Keys to Goal-Setting
I have done many things wrong in life. I have learned most things the hard way, and have suffered from poor choices and impulsivity. One thing that I have always done well, though, is set goals and achieve them. The first goal I remember setting was the goal to graduate high school when I was experiencing major turmoil. It seemed (to everyone) that I might not make it, but make it I did and I went off into the world empowered with a secret...success could be mine with the power of goal setting.
There are young people that I teach that can set goals but have not learned to follow through on them, and then there are older people that are my friends that do the same thing. It is a little bit of a mystery to me.Is it a character flaw? Weakness or lack of motivation? Maybe, but more likely these people just need to approach their goals in a more methodical way.
First, set the long-term goal. I don't have motivation or drive and then set a goal. My method is to stumble across something that interests me and then come up with some crazy goal before I think too much about it. I mean, it's not completely out of reach, but I do not look into all of the details first, otherwise I would never do it. For example, my husband and I wanted to buy a piece of land and build a house on it. Well, we did it, but honestly it was a long a horrific process that we never would have started had either of us really researched and thought about it. In the end, however, we have accomplished a great thing that has put us at an economic advantage.
My new goal is to ride 150 miles in a two day bike ride to raise money for MS. I have five months to train. I had six months, but my first task was to pull my bike out from the plants that were growing through it and take it in to get it worked on. Meanwhile, I cut off a bunch of sweatpants to make “bike shorts” and cut the sleeves off of old t-shirts to make professional biker shirts. Towards the end of my training, as a reward, I will buy professional gear so I don't look like a hobo at the race. For me, incentives work wonders. I will be fit, yes, I will spend time with family, yes, I will raise money for charity, yes, but I will also get new stuff!
Next, come up with the game plan. After initially making the goal, I spend a limited amount of time organizing a strategy. I do one thing each day to work towards this. For example, one day you just might make a list of tasks, or make one phone call. Small things add up, and the momentum of your goal starts moving in a forward direction. You do not need all of the details, or all of the steps figured out. Just the big picture, a rough timeline, and a concrete place to start the first month.
I started my biking goal with a call to the bike shop to figure out when they were open. One day I looked at the race website to see what I was in for. Now, almost three weeks later, I am ready to start training, with my first month's schedule and routes mapped out. I figured out the big goal, then broke it into rough monthly goals, and then came up with the details of only the first month. That is as far as I need to go to put my plan into action.
Stick to your guns. Make your strategy a priority. Tell at least one person what you are up to. Put it in writing, in your phone or on your calendar. It helps me to write lists, and I am also routine-oriented and stick to agendas. Make it a part of your routine, and make it blend in with your day. If it is to difficult, out of the way, or you are not organized and don't have everything you need in order to do it easily, in my experience it is more likely not to work. Also, DO IT! Do NOT come up with excuses! Do you want it? Do you want the satisfaction of reaching a difficult goal?
Perhaps there are some deep seated self-defeating behaviors that some people have that continuously interfere with their success. In that case, there probably needs to be some self-reflection. Sometimes goals just don't happen for one reason or another. I have made a couple that I did not reach. I berated myself severely, but sometimes the timing is not right or other things happen in life that are out of our control. In these cases, it is important to come to terms with whatever happened that interfered and continue on. Perhaps the goal just needs adjusting, or the approach modified.
It is worth persevering. Don't give up! The rewards of reaching a goal are many when it comes to feelings of confidence, self-worth, and empowerment.