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Is this like the gazillionth time you’re attempting to set goals?  Have you resorted to simply crossing off the year from your goals list and replacing it with this year (you’re not alone!)?  I’ve been in exactly the same boat!  The new year rolls round, I’m all excited for the year ahead – ‘after all, this year is my year!’  😉  I write down all my goals determined to make them happen this year …

… then life happens.  And before I know it, it’s August and I haven’t looked at my goals since I wrote them down!  Yes, I had them in my head, but they were at the back of my head, and therefore, at the bottom of my to do list.  That was the old me.

Don’t let that happen to you!

Over the years I’ve found that there are 3 key things that tend to hold us back when it comes to setting and, most of all, achieving our goals.  If you’re ready to do things differently this time, read on!

1 |  Your Why is not big enough

What’s fuelling your desire to achieve your dreams and goals?  Is it just a nice little idea in your head that would be ‘lovely to achieve one day’?  Or is there a burning WHY behind your goals that makes failure not an option?   I remember once being asked if I would cross a plank placed between two high buildings.  ‘No way José!’ I said.  Just the thought of it gave me the shivers!  Ok, they said, how about if your daughter was trapped on top of the other building that was going up in flames?  Would you cross the plank then, to save her?  Kind of changes your perspective, doesn’t it?  If that were the case, my focus wouldn’t be on the plank, it would be on saving her life and, yes, I would most definitely cross that plant to do so!  See how a strong enough ‘why’ takes away the difficulty of what needs to be done to achieve your goals and instead makes you focus on your why?  

What’s your why?  In my Born to Flourish planner journal I have a section on goal setting, as part of the ‘Dream’ section (there are 3 key sections – Dream, Do and Learn).  In here you get to create goals for each area of your life and for each goal you are asked WHY this goal is important to you, what it would cost you if you didn’t achieve this goal.  This is what keeps you going when the going gets tough.  It allows you shift your focus from the hard graft to the underlying reason behind it, which then make the hard graft not look so hard after all!  Or at least, make it worth it.

Write down each of your goals on a sheet of paper.  Underneath each goal, write down ‘What’s my WHY?  Why is this important to me?’  Fill in your why, and beneath that, write ‘what will it cost me if I don’t achieve this goal?’  See, us humans tend to do more to avoid pain than we do to seek pleasure.  It’s one thing to think fondly of your goal with a smile on your face but quite another picturing the outcome if you fail to achieve your goal.  Which moves you more?  I’m definitely not saying you should focus on failure, but sometimes a reminder of what the cost will be if we do fail is the kick in the butt we need to get us moving again!

 

2 | You don’t have a system to support you in achieving your goals

Nine times out of ten it’s the action where we all fall over.  It’s easy to write down that we want to lose 20kg in weight.  Not so easy to say no to those yummy cupcakes being passed around at the office!  Why are elite athletes so accomplished, so successful, where do they get the discipline and drive to keep training year in and year out?  Firstly, they have crystal clear goals.  To be on that podium holding the gold medal.  They can feel the weight of the gold in their hands, they can feel the tears of joy running down their face, they hear the crowd cheering, they see the proud looks on their families faces, they have that vision with them every day.  Not only that, they have systems in place to support them.  Lots of systems I’m sure!  One of them is a coach, one that’s waiting for them at 5am to train, and there to remind them of their why.  Every day they have a clear cut schedule to follow that is in alignment with their goal of winning the gold. 

What systems do you have in place?  When there’s no one to crack the whip, we get complacent, after all no one’s really going to know if we don’t do anything today.  Take a few minutes to write down what systems you can put in place to keep you on the straight and narrow.  I used my planner journal to keep me accountable to myself and to keep checking in daily, weekly and monthly on my progress towards my goals.  And speaking of accountability, usually counting on ourselves as accountability partners isn’t the best idea (for obvious reasons!) and is just one element to use.  Try and get an accountability partner or join a mastermind or similar group where you can declare your goals and provide updates regularly.  When you’ve declared your goals to other people you’re more likely to follow through, right?  

What other systems could you put in place?  Environment is another biggie in my opinion.  Prime your environment for success.  If you’re planning to go the gym every morning, pack your bag the evening before and have it by the door ready for you to get up and go!  If you plan to read a chapter of a book every night before you sleep, put the book on your pillow after you’ve made your bed that morning so it’s there waiting for you when you’re ready to hit the sack.  If you want to journal every morning, put your journal out on your desk before you leave your office or wherever you journal from.  This is all part and parcel of creating good habits to support you in making your goals a reality!

3 | Your goals are not SMART

Yes, I can see you rolling your eyes at this one and I did too to begin with.  After a long, long time in corporate, there is no one more sick of the reference to SMART goals than me!  However, love ’em or hate ’em, our goals really do need to be SMART!  You probably already know what these mean, but just to jog your memory, our goals must be:

Specific – like I said in my Vision blog post, you need to have a crystal clear vision, you need to know exactly what you plan to achieve before you can attempt to take steps towards its attainment.  

Measureable – having measurable goals allows you to track your progress and see how well (or not) you’re doing.  So a goal of losing 10kg is far better than a goal of losing weight. 

Achievable – I am the first one to say DREAM BIG, we can achieve far more than we can ever have imagined – but do keep it achievable too so you don’t set yourself up for failure.  Aim high, but a goal of creating another planet Earth, for example, is, well, not really achievable 😉  Another thing we tend to do a lot is over estimate how much we can achieve in a certain timeframe, so lots of people set goals to achieve in the next year for no other reason than that’s what most people do.  What makes you think your goal will take exactly 12 months to achieve?  Is that really achievable?  Or are you setting yourself up for failure?  I read somewhere that we often over estimate what we can achieve in one year, but under estimate what we can achieve in five.

Relevant – are your goals relevant to your values, beliefs and who you are as a person?  This is tied in some ways to your ‘why’.  The more relevant your goals are to you, the more reason you will have to make them happen.

Timebound – although obvious, this is a biggie.  When we don’t set the timer, it doesn’t happen, it keeps getting pushed back.  My planner-journal took aaaages to see the light of day simply because I didn’t have a definite solid deadline for it to be out there, and so I kept tweaking it and tweaking it, until I set an actual deadline for it to be done and dusted!

 

Do any of these three things resonate with you? 

Is why so strong it makes you cry?  Do you have systems in place to support you every day when you’re out in the trenches trying to make things happen?  Are your goals SMART?  And most of all, are you crystal clear on what your goals are (if you’re not, go back to my Vision post and fill in the free worksheet!)?