We’ve all been there before – in that uncomfortable place, weeks, months, or even years after having set an important goal for ourselves – realizing that we’ve come up short.
Contrary to what that creeping feeling of self-doubt is telling you in that moment, your failure to achieve your goals has much less to do with your work ethic than it does with the time you spent planning your path to success. There’s an old, tired adage about how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; like most old, tired adages, it’s completely true, and more people would discover how to achieve their goals if they abided by it’s message.
Maybe you’re the kind of person who never feels the need to set goals. You breeze through your personal and professional obligations, meeting each challenge as it arises, never paying a second thought to the “how” or “why”. Or maybe you’re a serial goal-setter who would like to increase your ratio of goals set to goals met. Either way, read on for three quick tips on how you can achieve your goals more efficiently.
Write your goal down somewhere you’ll see it everyday
Our iPhone-obsessed culture has conditioned us to compartmentalize everything in our lives. From grocery lists to family photos to social calendars, we’re used to being able to slide all of our important information into our pockets and only call on it when we need it. Make no mistake: “Out of sight, out of mind” is the enemy of achieving your goals. While task apps such as Ever note and other productivity tools DO make it easy to build quick to-do lists, it’s tempting to close the app and forget all about your goals after a few days. Instead, write your goals down the old fashioned way, with pen and paper. Slip the paper stating your goal into your wallet or purse, or leave it in a conspicuous place like your nightstand. Having to confront your goal on a daily basis will up your odds of achieving it.
Create a detailed timeline
Most people set deadlines for achieving their goals. But people who really know how to achieve goals go one step further than choosing a due date. They build detailed timelines for themselves, outlining not just the completion date, but also several milestones along the way. The next time you set a goal for yourself, try picking several intermediate steps to treat as “mini-goals”. For example, if your goal is to save up for a new car, first decide on the date that you’d like to be cruising in your brand new ride. Then, working backwards, pick a date by which you’ll have half of your total saved. Then, do the same for a quarter of the cost. You’ll find it’s much easier to accomplish your goal when you set a detailed timeline.
Plan a reward for yourself ahead of time
Sometimes, even those of us with the best intentions to work harder at our goals self-sabotage by not taking the time to enjoy it when we succeed. A goal achieved is a big deal, and you should treat it as such. Give yourself a reward for every goal you achieve, above and beyond the gratification of the achievement itself. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant or expensive reward. Something as simple as scheduling a few extra hours from some leisure activities or allowing yourself a less-than-nutritious tasty snack is enough to do the trick. The important thing is to trigger the reward centers in your brain that will make you want to keep achieving your goals. Spread the word. Post your good new on Facebook, or tweet it out so friends and family can give you your well-deserved plaudits. Studies show that those who receive praise for a job well done are much more likely to continue working hard. So allow yourself some time to bask in your glory - you earned it!