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How to Set a Goal You'll Stick With

5 Steps to More Effective Goal-Setting


Goals help us become successful by providing direction, focus and benchmarks to help us determine whether we are actually on the right path. Here are five ways you can create meaningful goals you can actually achieve.

1. Choose goals that will keep you motivated. When we first establish a goal, we tend to feel highly motivated. Over time, however, this passion tends to wane, making it harder for us to stick to our plans. If you don't really feel passionate about a goal, or it is basically irrelevant to the larger picture, you will probably give up in time. Improve your chances of success by setting goals that relate to the values and priorities in your life. You should also focus on only one goal at a time, so you won't get distracted.

2. Be SMART about it. The best goals are designed around the SMART concept. There are all sorts of variations of what SMART can stand for, however, the basic essence is that goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time Bound

Be sure to avoid vague or generalized goals that won't give you much direction. Instead, set very specific definable goals that are both attainable and measurable. As stated before, these goals should be relevant to your distinctive values and lifestyle. They should also have a definitive deadline, so you will stay committed over time.

3. Write things down. It may sound like a small thing, but the physical act of writing down a goal can have a powerful impact on your psyche. As you write, use the phrase "I will" instead of "I would like to." For example, don't say I would like to travel more, lose weight or save money this year. Commit to the goal by writing, "I will." You should also frame the goal statement positively and include a step-by-step to-do list that will give you little achievable mini-goals on your way to reaching your ultimate destination.

4. Create an action plan. Many people skip this critical step when creating goals. If you are too focused on an outcome, you will be less likely to embrace all the little steps that will be required along the way. It's important to consider, identify and list all the steps on the way to your destination, especially if your goal is large and demanding. Plot things out by listing all the milestones you will need to reach on your way to achieving your goals. You should also take time to celebrate every time you achieve one of these smaller milestones and reward yourself for taking that next step.

5. Make room for your goal. Try to remember that goal-setting is not a single moment when you feel especially inspired; it's an ongoing process, requiring sacrifice, lifestyle adjustments and habitual action. While your end destination might stay the same, your action plan might evolve, requiring minor or significant adjustments. Whatever the case, make sure the value, relevance and necessity of your goal remains strong, and be willing to adjust your life to accommodate your goal.

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