Ever wondered how to achieve a goal successfully? Does it feel like other people seem to know how to do but you just can’t stick to your plan?
Do you want to get healthier? Do you want to learn how to run? Are you saving to buy something in particular or to travel? Are you trying to create a new habit? Do you fancy learning something new?
There is so much information out there about goal setting and SMART goals but I want to talk to you about one factor that often gets overlooked. And it’s probably not what you think.
This factor is crucial for how to achieve a goal successfully and it applies no matter what your goal is.
So, think of a goal. Have you got it? Right, my first question is…
Yes, that is my question. Why is that your goal? What made you choose this goal? Do you have a clear end goal in mind or is it a bit vague? Have you got a vision of what life will be like for you if you achieve your goal? What difference would it make to your life?
It doesn’t matter what it is, what matters is your reason why you want to achieve your goal. In my opinion, this is the crucial factor. You can read all the articles out there about how to achieve a goal successfully or SMART goals but if you don’t know your reason why then it just won’t stick.
When I was employed as a Personal Assistant, I used to be made to set SMART goals every year. I’d sit with my boss and we’d make something up just to fill out the form. I was never engaged in this process because I just didn’t give a sh*t about the goals that the company wanted me to focus on.
The only reason I completed the goals was because I didn’t want to get told off for not achieving them. I had no interest and no passion so it was just a formality. How to achieve the goals successfully didn’t even pop into my head, I just had to get the job done.
Onto my next question, which is…
Is your reason why strong enough?
Basically, I’m asking you if your reason to do the thing you want to do is strong enough to keep you on track. Does it light you up? Do you feel excited when you think about it? You need to have an emotional connection to your goal.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve set a goal to eat healthily from Monday. I’d plan out my meals, I’d stock the fridge but by the end of the 2nd or 3rd day I would be inhaling a packet of biscuits that I’d reserved for ‘treats’. Why did this happen? Because my reason why was usually something related to what I thought other people thought of my body. I didn’t have a good enough reason why I wanted to feel healthier so I failed time and time again.
It doesn’t have to be a personal goal either, it could be career related. I was a Personal Assistant for over 16 years and I hated it. Getting up in the morning was something I dreaded so I became passionate about changing my career.
My goal was to retrain as a Sports Massage Practitioner and set up my own business. I worked full time and studied part time as well as learning at home during evenings and weekends, I also had to complete 100 hours of free sports massage in order to qualify.
I was so determined that I did it all within 6 months. The thought of being in a position to leave my PA career behind spurred me on and kept me going.
Confidence Oh Confidence
I struggle with lack of confidence so whenever I set myself a goal, the first thought that comes into my head is “I don’t think I can do this?” or “I don’t know where to start!”. I give up before I’ve given myself chance to try.
How to achieve your goal successfully includes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone A LOT. I’m not so good at this but I’m getting better. This is where you need a strong reason why or you’ll quit before you start.
Is it a Goal or a Daydream?
Thoughts always pop into my head like, “I’d love to speak Spanish fluently”. Do I speak Spanish now? No. Have I started learning? No, because it’s something I think would be cool but not something I’m willing to put any time into. My reason why I want to do it just isn’t strong enough.
I have a process for how to achieve a goal successfully that I do whenever one of those thoughts pop into my head. It helps me work out if it’s a daydream or something I actually want to explore.
Think of something that you really, really want to do. Have you got one? Right, grab a piece of paper or a notebook and write it at the top of the page. Next you need to write the following:
What is your reason to do this?
Why do you want to achieve this goal? What do you think the outcome will be? How will it improve your life? etc.
What will it take to get you there?
Plan out what you need to do in order to achieve your goal. Really break it down into steps. Bitesize steps. You don’t need to know all the details right now so just jot down what you think it will include.
Give yourself milestones to reach as this will help you keep yourself on track. It’ll be less overwhelming this way. Make sure you reward yourself along the way too. You need to give yourself incentives in order to keep motivation going.
Plan for hiccups
It’s so easy to give up when we come across a bump in the road. Maybe you’re trying to get healthier and you have a day when you inhale a bag of donuts. Who hasn’t done that? I’ve totally done that! So, what’s next? Do you decide you’re a failure and give up or do you dust yourself off and get back to it?
You will have hiccups. That is life. Things happen and you’ll be knocked off track but it’s up to you if you allow it to cancel the rest of your journey. Are you going to sit there feeling sorry for yourself or are you going to put on your big girl/boy pants and get going again?
Sometimes a hiccup will mean you need to change your plan in order to reach your goal. If this happens then just shout “plot twist!” and tweak your journey accordingly.
This is important. You don’t have to tell everyone, you could tell just one person if you want. It’s up to you. Make sure the people you tell are going to be cheerleaders and support you. They’re the ones that will ask how things are going and how they can help. They’ll want you to succeed.
Don’t tell the people that will tease you about it or be smug when you hit a hiccup. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. If you’re anything like me, you’ll already be wavering in confidence so don’t need their input as well.
There are two kinds of people in your life, there are radiators and there are drains. Radiators make you feel warm, supported and cosy. Drains are just that, they drain the life out of you and make it all seem so much harder. Choose radiators every time!
Your Reason Why Can Change
In 2015 I decided to train for a marathon. I hadn’t even run a 10K at this point but this was my new goal. I knew that I could achieve it if I followed a training plan. Simple!
I told everyone about it. I needed to have lots of people to know and hold me accountable so I sang it from the roof tops. I’m sure people got sick of me mentioning my marathon training but I didn’t care as I needed to tell them. I also decided to raise money for a local dog rescue charity, I couldn’t let the puppies down either.
Marathon training did not go to plan. A few weeks into training I ended up injured (due to badly fitting new running shoes which went in the bin!). I went straight to physio as I knew I couldn’t fix myself and I didn’t have time to waste. I was on a deadline! Luckily I was back pounding the pavement within a couple of weeks.
The biggest hiccup of my marathon training plan was when my dad passed away. I was devastated, I don’t actually know how I managed to function but somehow I went to work every day and I kept training. I did skip some runs but I made sure I always did my long run.
My reason why changed from ‘cos I really want to run a marathon and be able to tell people that I ran a marathon’ (yes that was a strong enough reason for me) to ‘my dad sponsored me before he died so I need to do this’.
On 10th April 2016 I completed my first marathon and raised over £450 for my local dog rescue charity. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done and there were times when I just wanted to quit but I didn’t. My reason why was too strong to let me give up.
Whatever it is that you want to do, your reason to do it has to be stronger than all the reasons you’ll come up with to give up. Excuses are so easy to come up with and justify to yourself but you’re cheating yourself out of achieving so much. If you’re unsure then talk to a friend and get their input.
I’d like to hear from you if you have a story to share or if you’d like to leave a comment below. However, if you’d rather contact me privately then please get in touch via one of the ways on my contact page.
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