Updated February 11, 2019
If you’ve contemplated making some life changes, setting personal goals is the first step. The next step is taking action and being consistent about it–this is where some individuals may stumble (I admit that I could easily be placed into this category). However, I’ve learned to utilize three simple strategies to help me to attain and maintain my goals for lasting change.
#1 Be Specific & Make It a Reachable Goal
It’s true. Overly vague resolutions with nothing to back them up simply won’t do. An empty statement like, “I want to get healthy,” isn’t likely to last past the first month. Adding some specifics such as a timeframe, strategies and accountability check-ins is a far better way to go about setting resolutions, whether it’s at the New Year, for your birthday or simply on a Tuesday in May. Also, be sure not to bite off more than you can chew. Your goals must be relatively realistic if they’re to have any real chance of success. Specify your S.M.A.R.T. goal (Specific, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound). Additionally, identify your barriers and how to overcome them.
#2 Find Your Motivation for The Change
Finding your “why” is an incredibly powerful and motivating concept. Your “why” is your reason for wanting to change. It’s the thing that will keep you reaching for that goal when things get hard or life gets busy and you want to give up. Wanting to get healthy so you can be the best mom for your children, have energy to play games with them and be in their lives longer is strong motivation. Use that intense desire to keep you on track and accountable. Allow me to expand upon what the why means and its importance so that you can return to this important concept again and again when you need it most.
About Your Why
Your why should be very personal to you. It’s the reason for why you, specifically, wish to accomplish a goal. It’s imperative that this reason be meaningful to you, rather than something pushed upon you by an outside force. What someone else wants for you or what you think you should want isn’t significant enough to sustain your why. This driving force needs to be something that can outlast any challenges. For instance, deciding to lose weight is something most of us have declared as a resolution. If we want to be successful in that pursuit, we need to understand just why it’s important to us. Reminding yourself regularly that your independence, your energy levels and your loved ones are the reasons you want to shed pounds will keep you going during the hard times.
Keeping It Central
You and I both know that we’re apt to fail when the important things begin to slip our mind. That’s why it’s so important to keep your why at the forefront of your resolutions. There are lots of little tricks you can employ to make it easier to remember your why. If you enjoy writing, keep a journal. Write down your personal reasons for wanting a dream to come true. Expand upon its importance. Imagine what it will be like when you achieve your goal. Place post-it notes where you can see them, as visual reminders of that thing you want most. Spend time with like-minded folks who are trying to achieve the same thing. You can motivate each other and hold yourselves accountable to one another.
You now know more about what the purpose of understanding your why is. I hope you’re ready to declare your very own why and to use it to guide your resolutions.
#3 The Value of Tracking Your Progress
Often, it’s hard to see slow progress. Measuring change and recording it to review later can help you see that you are actually making progress and will reach your goal if you keep going. Without concrete measurements, you might not realize you’re truly getting somewhere. Every baby step is progress. Let’s look at the value of measuring your progress along the way, how you can do that and why it works.
When it comes to goals, measurement is any method that identifies progress or lack thereof. Therefore, it makes sense that your units or ways will vary depending upon your specific pursuit. How often you note your progress will also be tied to the specific goal at hand. Some things will be best measured sporadically, as progress is expected to come slowly. Others can be examined on a more regular basis, such as weekly, because the change is more noticeable. It’s important to get a handle on the general type of measurements you’ll want to take.
Measuring your goal lets you see whether you’ve made a dent, are at a standstill or have fallen behind. This information is useful in helping you to make or adjust a plan of action for getting on track. Your measurements act as your guide toward reaching your goal. They give you a realistic “big picture” as to how you’re doing along the way. Without any type of progress indicator, you may find yourself lost in overwhelm or thinking you’re doing better than you are. Both of these scenarios can lead to disappointment and failed goals.
How to Measure Progress
When possible, it’s good to use quantitative measurement of some kind. This is the type of figure that is concrete and not left to interpretation. Sometimes you can measure by task or plan. Do this by setting up a daily, weekly or monthly activity list for tasks you need to complete in order to reach your goal. Check off each activity as it’s done, and you can easily see if you’re on track. Other record keeping methods are good, too, for certain types of goals. Beyond tracking pounds lost or dollars saved, you might also wish to record observations. If you’re working toward having a more positive attitude each day, keeping a diary or journal is useful in viewing your progress regarding such abstract concepts.
In summary, tracking the progress of clear, realistic, and meaningful goals will drive your commitment for change and ensure goal setting success.
Call to action: What are some of your helpful hints for goal setting success?
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