Many of us have goals we want to achieve in life but very few end up actually achieving them.
Why is that?
We get too caught up in the end result and what it takes to get there rather than the journey it takes to get there. This makes us feel so overwhelmed by the task at hand that we tend to procrastinate or give up too soon because it seems too hard or near impossible to achieve.
How can you change that and achieve goals?
Define your goal
Without a clear goal, you don’t know what you’re working towards or how to achieve it.
Let’s use an example:
Mary recently had a baby and wants to lose her pregnancy weight of 12kgs so that she can fit back into her skinny pair of jeans she used to wear before she fell pregnant.
The first step is to break the goal down into smaller more manageable size chunks:
The what – lose 12kgs
The why – to fit back into her skinny pair of jeans she used to wear prior to her pregnancy.
The how – the action one needs to take to achieve the goal e.g. attend gym 3 times a week and eat healthier meals.
The when – what is the time frame within which you would like to achieve this goal eg. Mary would like to do this by December when she goes to Mauritius on holiday which is 3 months away.
The Resources – depending on what the goal is, we may require resources that we don’t currently have e.g. knowledge or skills. Once you have identified what resources you need, you then need to assess how you can acquire them and by when e.g. hiring a personal trainer and how this fits into your time frame as it could have an impact on your end goal date.
Many people focus on the activity required to achieve their goal i.e. go to gym 3 times a week and eat healthier, instead of how achieving the goal will make them feel in the end and what it will do for them.
Loosing 12kg will make Mary feel healthier, better about herself, more confident, more energetic and sexier fitting back into her skinny jeans and putting on a bikini when she goes on holiday.
This is what you need to focus on as the driving motivation behind the goal. It is those thoughts that will keep us going on those days when it seems tough or you are struggling to focus and maintain your regime.
Break the goal down into smaller goals
By breaking down a big goal into smaller goals, you can track and measure your progress as you go along. This adds to a sense of accomplishment as you make progress.
In Mary’s case if she wants to lose 12kgs within 3 months, it works out to 4kgs per month and 1kg per week.
Is this realistically possible?
Yes, focussing on 1kg per week seems far more manageable and achievable than focusing on 12kgs.
Watch your language and thoughts
Taking into account the language you use and the way you think about your goal can influence your progress. Instead of focusing on diet, focus on eating healthy. The word diet sounds restrictive and negative in that you have to cut out or refrain from eating food items. This can leave you feeling demotivated and uninspired.
Often it’s not so much the food we have been eating but rather poor eating and lifestyle habits that has contributed to the situation.
With a few small changes such as healthier eating and exercise – one is already making a change that can only contribute positively towards the overall goal.
You also need to take note of the language you use when you speak to yourself and about your goals.
If every time the alarm goes off for your gym session and you tell yourself “I’m so tired, I don’t have the energy” then that’s exactly how you will feel.
If you use more positive and empowering language like “I can do this, I’m going to achieve this goal” then guess what – you will.
As the saying goes – you are what you think.
Reward yourself for small victories
Small rewards along the way help to keep the motivation levels going throughout the process.
If Mary manages to stick to her action plan of going to gym 3 times a week and she achieves her first month target of losing 4kgs – she deserves to reward herself for being disciplined and sticking to her plan. This can be any type of reward that has appeal and will incentivise you to keep going e.g. a new pair of shoes or a facial.
Get a partner in crime
At times it may also be beneficial to have a partner who wants to achieve the same goal. It helps to do it together as you can be honest, motivate each other and keep each other focussed. This works for some people while others prefer not to have the pressure of having to be held accountable.
It also helps speaking about your goal to others, the more you share it chances are you’re going to stick to it as people will be enquiring about your progress.
Don’t let the bad patches sway you
Everyone has a bad day now and then and that’s ok, you’re only human. What’s important is that you don’t beat yourself up over it but rather get back on track as soon as possible.
Say Mary’s willpower got the better of her and she had a piece of chocolate cake at her friend’s birthday party. This does not mean all her efforts have gone to waste; instead she needs to focus on getting back onto her healthy eating, exercise regime and goal.
Visualisation is a good technique to use
Every day visualise yourself achieving your goal. If you can see yourself achieving your goal and how that would look and feel, chances are you will achieve your goal. As they say, if you see it and believe it, you can achieve it.
Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert speaker and author of the self-help guide Embracing Conflict. Paula works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships in both personal and professional arenas by focusing on personal growth and development. Go to www.paulaquinsee.com for more info.