I find that setting goals is one of the best ways to keep my days on track and my head in the game. That being said, setting realistic goals can be tricky. You may be wondering how to walk the line between pushing yourself and staying reasonable. Here are 7 tips that help me stay balanced and productive.
Often times when people start setting goals they only picture where they want to be. They fail to consider the path between point A and point B. This results in a seemingly endless trek towards their goal, and often causes overwhelming discouragement.
If you want to reach your big goal, you need to get better at setting little ones. Break down your ultimate aim into smaller, quantifiable goals. These mileposts will help you continually focus on progressing towards what you really want.
The nature of your goal may not lend itself to setting short term goals. In this case, it is important that you track your progress. This will serve the same purpose as short term goals by keeping you motivated and on track.
For instance, if you want to get into running and decide that your long term goal is to achieve a 6 minute mile time, it would be wise to use a fitness app like Runkeeper to monitor your progress. Even on the days when you feel you’ve underperformed, you’ll have a solid record of your progress to look back on for encouragement.
Sometimes, people get in a frenzy when they begin setting goals. They set a wide range of goals, from flossing every night to quitting social media and then find themselves not knowing where to start.
To fix this, focus on one goal at a time. Lets say you draft your goals, and you write that you would like to accomplish the following: read every day, meditate, and begin exercising. You may read and pot some plants, but because you had not read in awhile you had trouble focusing, and now you don’t have time to go to the gym. You end the day discouraged, when in reality, you made steps towards two goals.
Now, lets envision this same goal drafting process. This time, you are honest with yourself. You schedule the goals to be done one after the other. You spend two months creating the habit of reading, then you start making steps towards your next accomplishment.
Your goals will not be accomplished unless you are actively working on them every day. This is because reaching your goals is not a special task, it’s a habit. Teaching yourself to create these habits means exercising self-control and dedication.
Think of these concepts like muscles—the more they are used, the stronger they become. If you are struggling to be consistent, keep in mind that once that first habit is created, the rest will form more easily.
When setting goals, it is good to first focus on creating keystone habits. These are habits that once developed, will help other habits form. They also tend to promote well-being, productivity, and mindfulness. Some good examples of keystone habits include: getting 8 hours of sleep, regular exercising, reading, or regulating your diet.
Developing keystone habits can give you the boost you may need to accomplish your longterm goals. If you’re an entrepreneur, keystone habits may be the secret to sharpening your business acumen or achieving better work-life balance.
A key to setting realistic goals is knowing yourself. Take stock of who you are and the realities of your life before setting your goals. It’s important that you’re totally honest with yourself.
If you fudge anything, or base your goals on a total personality overhaul, there’s a good chance that they won’t be attainable. For instance, if you struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, it’s best that your goals not be predicated on a 5am wake-up time.
In some cases, you can use these aspirations for a longterm target. After you build up your discipline, revisit your ideal goal and consider whether or not it’s become more doable.
You won’t accomplish your goals if you don’t invest in them. Investing in your goals means putting time, money, energy, and any necessary other resource towards your goal. In turn, this means that when you set your goal you should have an idea of what price you have to pay to reach it.
Becoming more fit might mean you sacrifice 5 hours a week and a certain amount of money per month for a gym membership. You may have to adjust your grocery budget to accommodate healthier food options. When it comes to setting realistic goals, being fully aware of costs is key. Do your research ahead of time so that you aren’t discouraged when faced with unexpected sacrifices.
Another important benefit of investing in your goal is the litmus test it provides for you. If you figure out the cost of attaining a goal and it gives you pause, you may need to reevaluate.
This often means that you are not setting realistic goals. A reluctance to put forth the necessary resources may be an indicator to you that either you have created a goal that is not yet attainable for you, or that you may need to reorganize your priorities as you set your goals.
When you’re considering what you’d like to accomplish in the long-term—whether it’s growing your business, changing your office culture, or improving yourself in some way—it’s incredibly important that your goals be grounded in reality.
While setting realistic goals, be sure to create a long-term plan, break your goals down into manageable and trackable milestones, and fully understand the resources you’ll have to devote to reaching your targets—as well as whether or not your personality and lifestyle will allow you to make those sacrifices.
If you’re able to be honest with yourself and truly commit to your endgame, you may reach your goals sooner than you expect.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.