Set Successful Goals…and Achieve Them

We all have milestones we’d like to reach, some of them are big and some are small. Regardless of size, having goals is an important part of both our long-term physical and mental health. Whether your goal is to do something tangible like buy a house or to do something more esoteric like display greater empathy, there are concrete things you can do to help achieve your goals.

1. Be Realistic

We’re often encouraged to think big: If you can dream it, you can do it! However, if running a marathon were as simple as dreaming, I’d have a 26.2 sticker on my car bumper by now. Having a goal and reaching it are two very different things—and setting unrealistic goals and not achieving them may discourage you from trying a new challenge in the future.

When setting new goals, keep in mind your current skills and how much you can expect them to improve in the future. Since I am not an avid runner, setting the goal of running a marathon a month from now probably wouldn’t result in my actually running a marathon. I might instead become frustrated by my lack of progress and likely give up on running altogether.

It would be more realistic for me to set a goal of training for a 5K race to start, then building up to a 10K, then a half marathon, and finally a marathon. Taking your goals in smaller, more manageable bites will likely result in a greater chance of success and more positive feelings of accomplishment. These positive feelings will fuel you as you continue to aim for your goals and inspire you to create new goals.

2. Write It Down

Take the time to physically write down your goals as it will not only help to keep you accountable, it can also help you clarify exactly what you want to do and how you plan to get there. Sit in a quiet space and consider how you can achieve your main goal. What steps will you need to take along the way to ensure your success? Write it all down and be sure to consider what might derail your progress as you move forward.

It may help to provide yourself with some sort of reward when you do achieve your goal to keep you motivated. Need help organizing all this information? Our handy Path To Achieving A Goal can help you organize your thoughts and create a plan of action.

3. Be Specific

Typically, a goal of any size has a number of tasks that need to be completed for success. For example, if my goal is to buy a house, I likely don’t have everything I need to make that goal a reality today. I will probably need to save for a down payment, research my local real estate market, find a licensed Realtor, get pre-approved for a home loan, etc. The more specific you can be about the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal, the more likely you are to be successful. Being specific will also allow you to see the challenges you might face on your path. Take the time to write this all down and see where you stand.

4. Be Positive

A can-do attitude can go a long way toward helping you attain a desired outcome. If you’ve completed Steps 1-3 so far, you’re clear-headed and prepared for many of the obstacles you may face. Therefore, you have every reason to be confident about your ability to do the work necessary to achieve your goal!

5. Be Kind

Setbacks happen. You want to run a marathon but you suffer an injury that prevents you from running. You want to buy that house but an unexpected life event makes a big dent in your savings account. Such is the ebb and flow of our lives and our goals. Sometimes we can march directly from start to finish with very little adversity and other times we are forced to struggle toward our goals. Remember that failure is only a temporary state and that you have the power to set yourself back on track when the time is right. Be kind to yourself even as you fail and remember to keep any setback in perspective as you move forward.

Setting meaningful goals can be difficult and reaching big goals can sometimes seem impossible, but with a little forethought, a healthy dose of realism, and a positive attitude, you’ll be well on your way to making your goals your new reality.

Download our Goal Worksheet now to help you identify tasks, motivation and rewards to achieving a goal you have in mind.