A few years ago, I had a year that I felt just kind of happened. There were a ton of really big changes, none of which were easy. As I look back on that year it stands out as being a hard year, one I was glad when it ended.
But here’s the thing, it wasn’t just the various trials that made the year hard, it was that feeling that “it just kind of happened.”
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That following year was actually filled with even bigger and harder trials. My daughter described that following year as “a train wreck”. Despite the harder trials and difficulties, I look back at the previous year as “harder”, it was “the year that just kind of happened.”
Looking back on that time, I have come to realize that a huge part of the reason the prior year felt so much harder was, I had never set any real goals that I was actively working on. You see the following year, the year with the bigger and harder trials, also had me actively and purposefully pursuing specific and clear goals.
This quote so clearly defines the difference between those two years:
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” ~ Jim Rohn
Setting actionable goals is key to taking charge of your life. Setting goals allow you to be purposeful with your life. Moreover, as you accomplish the various goals you set for yourself, you have that sense of accomplishment. This then gives you the strength to handle the tougher stuff that comes your way.
But just writing down a list of goals is not enough. You need an actual plan for achieving those goals.
Here are 6 key strategies that will help you set goals you will actually accomplish so that you have the strength to handle the tougher stuff.
1. Write It Down
Did you know that people who write their goals down are 42% more likely to accomplish them? Research has shown that writing down your goals helps you to visualize them. When you are able to visualize succeeding at your goals, you are significantly more likely to actually achieve your goals.
So if you really want to set goals you will actually accomplish, write them down. But don’t stop there, once you have written your goals down, take your paper and put it in a place where you will see it every day. Being able to visually see your goals on a daily basis will help to make sure you are sticking to them and actively working on them.
I talk about it often, because I really do love the Living Well Planner. It is such a great tool for writing down and keeping track of your goals. There are specific pages each month dedicated to helping you accomplish your goals. This ensures you are staying focused and working on your goals regularly.
Writing your goals down is one of the best ways to set goals you will actually accomplish!
2. Be Specific
You are far more likely to accomplish your goals when they are specific. By specific I mean your goal is such that you can create actionable steps toward accomplishing the goal.
Here is an example, one of my ongoing goals is to create stronger relationships with my children. This might sound like a great goal, but the problem is it is not specific. How will I get there, what action steps will I take to create the stronger relationships?
If I break the goal down and make it specific, my goal is now to take each of my children out for one on one time once a month. I have now created a very specific goal. My goal has actionable steps to be performed within a specific time.
To set goals you will actually accomplish have clear actionable steps. Be clear on how you will achieve your goal. Ideally, you will want to have small actionable steps that will lead up to your main goal. In my case, taking my kids out for one on one time each month will lead to the main goal of creating a stronger relationship.
One of the biggest obstacles to accomplishing our goals is a failure to prioritize. I don’t know about you, but I have been guilty of setting a lot of goals all at once. The problem is that we really can only focus on a small number of goals at a time.
We are far more likely to achieve our goals when we limit the number of goals we set. We can then break down and prioritize those goals.
Let me give you another example, let’s say this year I want to increase my business revenue by 40%. As we discussed above, I need to break this goal down into specific actionable steps. I can make a detailed list of lots of little specific goals for increasing my income.
As I look at my list, I need to decide which things will be most beneficial to helping me to achieve my ultimate goal of increasing my business revenue. This now becomes my set of priorities and I know what is most important to work on.
4. Leave Your Comfort Zone
The practice of regular goal setting and regularly reevaluating your goals can have a tremendous impact on your life. I say this because I have seen the positive impact this has had in my own life. Through effective goal setting, you are able to achieve the life you are dreaming of.
But notice I said through effective goal setting.
An element of effective goal setting requires us to go outside of our comfort zone. It is so easy to stay where it is comfortable. But when we do this we become stagnant and allow life to just happen, kind of like the year I told you about that “just happened”.
If you don’t push yourself you will never get to where you really want to go. Often when we set a goal outside of our comfort zone we rise to the challenge and we will meet that goal.
So if you really want to set goals you will actually accomplish, make sure they require you to go outside of your comfort zone.
5. Identify Bad Habits
Another thing that can often interfere with the goals we set are bad habits. We can create bad habits without even thinking about it. It’s important to identify those bad or negative habits and start to change them.
Start asking yourself what are the things getting in the way of what you really want to do. What are your distractions?
I know for me, my environment has a big impact on my ability to stay focused on my goals. If my environment is messy, cluttered or disorganized, I feel anxious and can’t get things done.
When trying to figure out what your distractions are, consider things like your environment or even the people in your life. Once you identify these bad habits or other causes that interfere with your ability to set goals you will actually accomplish, you can begin to change them.
Begin with little changes until you find what works for you.
Believe it or not, a major key to accomplishing your goals begins in your mind. If you don’t believe you can you won’t. It’s important to see yourself accomplishing your goal and telling yourself, I am the kind of person who __________ fill in the blank with your specific goal.
Not only do you need to lift yourself up by believing in yourself, but it is so helpful to focus on the positive. How can you take what appears to be a setback and turn it into a positive?
Words we use can define the reality that we live. When we describe ourselves negatively or as bad at something, we reflect those patterns in our day to day life. The reverse is also true when we focus on the positive, visualize who you want to be and you will be one step closer to accomplishing your goals.
Be purposeful with your life. Set goals you will actually accomplish by following the steps above and you will begin to take charge of your life.
Now live simply, live fully and make each day your Favorite day!