6 of the Best Ways to Reach Your Goals
If you want to make changes in your life and reach your potential, do something far more powerful and effective than making resolutions: Set goals.
Having goals that align with what’s most important to you can help provide a pathway to bring a vision to reality. Goals also help provide direction and purpose in life. Research shows that people who set realistic goals tend to enjoy greater well-being and life satisfaction.
Whether you want to improve your health, work life, or increase income and pay off debt, pursue a creative endeavor, or find a loving relationship; here’s what science and experts say about how to achieve your goals.
6 of the Best Ways to Reach Your Potential & Hit Your Goals!
- Define Your Goals
The first step to realizing any goal is to clearly define it. After all, you can’t get to a destination unless you know where it is!
A serious goal needs to relate to purpose in life – what matters to you most – in order for you to fully commit and do what’s required to make it happen.
Business management experts developed the acronym SMART for defining goals, but it can be used to help define your personal goals too:
- S is for specific. Identify the specific who, what, when, and where of your goal.
- M is for measurable. This will help you actually see if you’re making progress.
- A is for attainable. Do you have the capacity to reach this goal?
- R is for relevant. A goal needs to be personally relevant to you and your values.
- T is for timeframe. What’s the timing of your goal? Start at the end result and work backwards from there.
Let’s say your goal is to “get in shape.” That’s very vague.
Using SMART, here’s a revised version of your goal:
Specific: I’m going to exercise 30 minutes or more at least three days a week and reduce my daily calorie intake by 20%.
Measurable: My goal is to reach a healthy weight range of __ in the next 90 days.
Attainable: I have good walking shoes and a trainer to work with once a week. I can buy healthy food to improve my diet.
Relevant: I want to live long and healthy as well as feel and look better. I want to improve my brain health and boost my mood.
Timeframe: I’ll shop for fresh, healthy food on Sundays and Thursdays. I’ll get up 1 hour earlier to walk before work three days a week. I’ll have a weekly training session on Saturday mornings.
You can use this formula for writing a book, finding a partner, learning a language, or virtually any goal that’s meaningful to you.
- Write Down Your Goals
People are more likely to reach goals if they write them down, research shows. Place them where you can see them or use a visual reminder of your goal.
For example, if you want to save money to adventure in Africa and see cheetahs, place an image of a cheetah where you’ll see it every day. Whatever the visual image, be sure it’s positive and inspires you.
If you meditate, use a bit of that time to visualize your goal and what it will feel like when you reach it. This practice can be very powerful. The mind starts believing it’s real and works with you to make it happen!
- Find an Accountability Partner
One research study found that participants who wrote down goals and shared them with an individual that held them accountable on a regular basis were the most likely to succeed.
Find someone you’ll tell the truth to, and who will be kind and truthful with you. Meet with them or call them regularly – weekly, or bi-weekly – to help keep you on track.
- Plan of Action
Break down your goal into smaller, doable pieces. Make your plan of action by figuring out how you’ll manage your time and resources on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis in order to reach each piece and ultimately hit your goal.
Keep in mind your natural ebb and flow of energy and optimal cognitive function. You may need to schedule time first thing in the morning to work on your goal. Or perhaps you’re most creative at night and schedule time then. Establish a routine that works well for you.
Take stock each week to see how your plan is working. Discuss it with your accountability partner, if it’s helpful. Adjust as needed.
- Eliminate Distractions and Overcome Procrastination
Attaining goals often calls for some sacrifices. Be willing to eliminate or let go of unhelpful behavior like procrastination and/or distractions.
You may need to simplify your life or say no to distracting people or events and reduce the number of responsibilities you have. That’s okay. Remember it’s temporary and necessary while working toward realizing something important to you.
Caution: your cellphone can be a major distraction. Silence your phone or put it away when you’re actively focusing on your goal tasks/actions.
Procrastination can be a killer, but there are ways to counter it. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, finds that Newton’s first law of motion (“Objects in motion tend to stay in motion”) can be helpful in disrupting the non-action of procrastination. He suggests taking just two minutes to get started on a task or action. If you can do that, the momentum begins and you can usually keep going!
- Reward Your Progress
As you hit your daily and weekly goals, reward yourself. Enjoy a healthy smoothie after a tough workout. Give yourself the weekend off if you worked hard and hit your goals all week. Rewarding your progress may help you stay motivated.
Greater Life Satisfaction
If you follow these suggestions, you may improve your chances of successfully reaching your goals. Achieving a goal builds confidence and provides a greater sense of control and accomplishment in life. Choose meaningful goals and enjoy the process!
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