(7 minute read)
All over the world, people are riding the excitement of the holidays and thinking about their resolutions for the new year. For many people, they are setting the same goals from a previous year that they failed to accomplish.
Unfortunately, most people find that change is hard. Sticking with and achieving goals is a big source of struggle and grief for the majority.
Almost everyone wants to improve themselves, their lives, and the world. We have been told over and over that setting goals is key to doing this. While this is true, there’s one big problem…
If we do not set and pursue our goals effectively, they will just become another source of frustration, doubt and failure.
The 5 main problems that keep people from success:
- They haven’t identified what is most important to you
- Their goals aren’t clear, specific and action oriented
- They haven’t established accountability
- They don’t actually believe you can accomplish your goals
- They don’t celebrate your successes and integrate the progress
Ultimately this article will teach you how to:
Formulate highly effective and impactful goals that you can achieve,
Actually improve your life by changing your identity and integrating your progress.
Throughout the article, we will workshop the following desire into a goal using 5 steps:
“I want to learn a martial art this year”
Step 1: The Why
PROBLEM: You haven’t identified what is most important to you
The biggest reason people fail to accomplish their goals is because the goals aren’t actually that important to them. Before setting goals, it is important to look at yourself and your life from a 360 degree view. You need to identify what is most important to you as well as what isn’t. Unless your goal is directly connected to one of your deepest needs or desires, you will almost inevitably fail.
Emotions are the fuel for action and change. People only change when there is desperation or inspiration present.
ACTION: Establish why your goal is meaningful by adding a because statement to your goal
“I will learn karate in 2023 because it is important for my health, presence and confidence.”
ACTION: Identify a list of things you need to say no to or remove from your life so you can focus on your goal.
Once you have established why your goal is important, you need to free up space and energy for this new goal by getting rid of things that are less important in your life. We need to say no to many things so that we can be a 100% hell yes to what is most important.
Step 2: Get Specific
PROBLEM: Your goals aren’t clear, specific and action oriented
Let’s face it, vague or ambiguous goals are worse than no goals. They leave us wandering through life consuming energy and hoping we get somewhere. This ultimnatelty leads us to a predictable fizzling out (or blowing up) where we feel like a failure, frustrated and worn out.
ACTION: Make your goals objectively measurable, undeniably clear and realistic to accomplish
Your goals should be so detailed that you can recognize the moment you are off path so you can course correct. Whenever possible, use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. when detailing your goal. This stands for:
“I will learn karate in 2023 because it is important for my health, presence and confidence. I will attend the beginners karate class at One Karate studio in February and March. I will participate every Monday and Thursday for one hour at a time or more.”
In our example goal, the specifics we have identified are:
- What our exact action is: Learning karate through attending a beginners karate class
- The exact total length of time we are committing to: Two months (Feb and March)
- The exact measurements of time per week: Two 1-hour sessions (2 hours per week)
- The exact days that the action will take place: Monday and Thursday
- The physical location and source of guidance: One Karate Studio
- The goal is realistic
Step 3: Accountability
PROBLEM: You haven’t established accountability to go with the goals
Modern humans have a lot going on, which means a lot of things asking for our limited energy, time and attention. Making real change requires energy, time and attention.
ACTION: Commit to regular and honest check-ins with someone or something
Step 4: Believe
PROBLEM: You don’t actually believe you can accomplish your goals
This is one of the most overlooked yet important pieces to this whole process. Instead of of just setting goals we need to ask ourselves, who do I need to become to succeed at this? James clear makes a strong point in his book Atomic Habits, that new goals won’t change you, but new identities will. You need to be able to say, and believe, that you are the kind of person that does this thing and lives this way.
ACTION: Create identity statements
ACTION: Create mantras
You want your mantras to create a strong feeling of ownership over your goals while enabling you to believe in yourself, take action, and integrate.
ACTION: Practice repeating and feeling your mantras daily
I personally find that speaking them out loud and writing them out are both more powerful than just saying them in my head.
If after a few days of practice, you find that you don’t 100% believe in your ability to accomplish your goal, then you need to change your goal.
Step 5: Celebrate & Integrate
PROBLEM: You don’t celebrate the successes and integrate the progress
Ultimately, the whole point of the goal is to make yourself, your life, and the world better.
ACTION: Celebrate your efforts and successes at a regular cadence along the way
Marinate in the positive emotions that arise. Focus on integrating any and all progress that you make. Stay attuned to your original why while continually opening yourself to your new identity and all the ways you will benefit from your new way of life.
Coach Tyler Le Floch of TFLOFITNESS encourages us to "create a celebration that is authentic to you. When you connect your action to a positive emotion, it will help in making it become more habitual. This could be a fist pump, a 'hell yes', or even a victory dance. The more it elicits a positive response, the greater likelihood of that action becoming habit."