Plan For Success- How To Hit The Goals You Set
Whether you believe in New Years Resolutions or not January is a good time to reflect upon the last year and plan changes for the new year. There are plenty of great resources out there on goal setting, I have put together a few points that I feel have a big impact and I will provide a reading list bellow if you are keen on going deeper.
Effort Over Everything
Do what you can with what you have where you are.
Let’s start by defining Goals. A Goal can be defined as “the result from which forth you put an effort” Therefore there are two components to achieving a goal. The result and and the effort. But what do you have more control over? Results or effort.
In many cases people stop putting in effort because they fear trying really hard and failing. They stop trying, to give them an excuse if it doesn’t work out. For example if your goal is to do 3 consecutive pull ups in 3 months time, you start the necessary training but on week 2 it becomes harder and you doubt if you will be able to do it, so you stop trying. After 3 months when someone asks you how you got on, you can say I didn’t do it but I wasn’t really trying, then you are back to square one. Now imagine this, on week 2 you start to doubt whether it is possible but you continue to put in the effort anyway. By the end of the 3 months when someone asks you how you got on you say, I can do 2 and I think I could do 3 by the end of next month. In both scenarios the initial result was not achieved but by continuing to put the effort in you know what you are capable of and what your next goal should be. This is why the effort the important part and should be the measure of success.
Find Your Why?
With a strong enough Why You can endure any how
You may understand the importance of effort but still struggle to repeatedly put the effort in. This comes down to what is driving you towards your goals? I do not believe anyone is lazy, I believe they haven’t found a strong enough reason to do something. Having a strong understanding of why you are doing something helps to reaffirm to yourself you are doing the right thing. Consequently when it will inevitably become challenging you can remind yourself why you are doing it. A practice I use is going 3 “whys” deep. This will often give you a true reason to do something and if the reason isn’t good enough when you come up against a hardship you will fold.
Why do you want to train? I want to train to look better
Why do you want to look better? Because I have a holiday coming up
Why do you want to look good on holiday? So I can take good pictures for instagram.
Now if that is a strong enough driving force to get you to make the right choice when you are unmotivated then you will be successful. However for a lot of us if your given the choice of a drink, a pastry, another episode of Netflix or look better on instagram you’ll choose the prior. The reason isn’t strong enough.
Let’s try another example:
Why do you want to train? To look better
Why do you want to look better? So I can set a good example for my family
Why is that important? So they can be proud of me and encourage them to do the same.
Now when you are faced with the option of the sweet treat or doing you family proud it is easier to say no to the cake.
Start With the End in Mind
The Only Constant is Change
If you are putting in the effort with a good reason you will do well but you still need direction. The best way to create this is to think big and work back. What is the big end goal you want to reach, this could be by the end of next year or the end of 3 years. Think big, think life changing not just to the next holiday. What will bring you long term fulfilment and success? Then write it down. Studies have shown people to be 42% more likely to achieve goals and dreams that they write down (Matthews 2015) . So write them down and keep referring back to them.
Then Reduce it to quarterly how much do you need to do every 3 months to achieve your big goal. Then smaller monthly, weekly, daily. You might not know what you need in the 2nd or third quarter to achieve your goal so that becomes an objective you need to hit first. For example in the first week I need find out what resources or knowledge I need, to create realistic benchmarks. You may decide that you need to hire a coach or do some research or organise your diary to give yourself time to actively work towards these goals.
Once you have broken it down to the daily and weekly you can take action towards them. Something you want to be aware of is the positive reinforcement effect. This is where the act of making and setting goals releases dopamine which gives you this sense of reward. But this positive reinforcement may make you feel good without you actually doing anything. What we want is the release of dopamine whilst working towards the goal therefore enjoying the process.
If you follow this advice you should know what you need to do, why you are doing it and how you’re going to do it? Time to start
Find Your Why- Simon Sinek
Chasing Excellence- Ben Bergeron
Becoming Elite by Choice- Lauren Johnson
Gardner, Sarah and Albee, Dave, “Study focuses on strategies for achieving goals, resolutions” (2015). Press Releases. 266. https://scholar.dominican.edu/news-releases/266