Setting ourselves goals is ultimately what gives us purpose. It’s what gets us out of bed in the morning, it makes us step outside of our comfort zone, and it ensures we do not give up when the going gets tough. We have been regular goal setters now for more than half of our lives, and there’s no denying that there’s no better feeling than having a list of freshly written goals that you know you are now working towards achieving. We have ensured that we use this same structure that we are about to share each and every time we set ourselves any goals. So grab a hot drink and a fresh notepad and let us really show you how to set goals for a more fulfilling life. What could be more meaningful than that?
Know your destination, and know it inside out!
Why do we plan our car journeys better than we plan our life goals? Crazy hey? But it is true! The process we undertake when planning a journey tends to go as follows:
- We know our destination clearly and the reason why we are traveling
- We know what route we will take (and will have our reason on why we chose that particular route)
- We know how long it is going to take us (taking in to consideration traffic, speed limits etc)
- We make sure we have enough fuel in for the journey (and if not we will stop on route)
Now that all seems pretty routine doesn’t it? But just compare that to our typical goal setting method:
- We have a vague idea of what we want to achieve (I want to lose weight for example)
- We set how long we want it to take, which is usually completely unrealistic (I want to lose weight by next week)
- We don’t tend to get to our destination because we get distracted along the way (“Mary had a birthday party and I couldn’t resist her birthday cake, and then I thought I’ve ruined my whole diet now so I may as well just forget my goal and restart after Christmas next month”)
You’re laughing now aren’t you! How do I know this? Because we have all either been there ourselves, or we know somebody who has shared that exact (if not, very similar) scenario.
Now you may be thinking, “What’s the problem? That person said they wanted to lose weight, but it just didn’t work out for them this time.” You would be correct, and please do not get this confused with me saying that there will not be any obstacles along the way, but, by getting crystal clear on the goal (destination) the likelihood of success will skyrocket.
So let’s look at how to set an effective goal with an example:
- Be really clear on what you’d like to achieve (this has to be Measurable and Specific)
- Set a realistic time frame on your goal and break it down to include check in points.
- MOST IMPORTANT: Understand WHY you want to achieve this goal and what it will do for you.
Example: I would like to be in a size 12 clothes by the time I go on holiday in 4 months time. If I can achieve this it will mean I will feel comfortable when I wear my bikini around the pool and will not feel like I need to cover up all the time. It also means I am more likely to get in the swimming pool with my children to play with them because I will feel confident enough. This is important to me because life is all about us capturing the memories, and I no longer want there to only be photographs of my partner with my children having fun.
I would like to be in a size 14 clothes in 2 months time for my Birthday, which will mean I can buy myself a nice outfit to wear for my celebrations. This will mean I will allow myself to look forward to my birthday even more, knowing that I have something nice to wear and my family can feel proud of what I have achieved.
But where are you now?
Now whilst you may not want to admit or accept where you are now, it is really important that you take a moment to look at this. It will help you to firstly understand if the time frame that you have set yourself is realistic, and it will also help you to set the key actions that you need in order to achieve your goal.
Example: I am currently a size 16 and do not feel comfortable going shopping to try on bikini’s for the holiday at the moment. I have been eating ready meals and takeaways for my main meals each night and I skip breakfast on a daily basis. I have 10 cups of coffee throughout the day, and 2 glasses of wine each evening. The only exercise I am getting is running up and down the stairs getting my children ready to school in the mornings.
What could stop you along the way?
Addressing anything that could be an obstacle or that could get in the way of you achieving your goals can significantly increase the chances of success. By using past experiences as well as any weaknesses you know you have, it can help you to understand the key things that could become potential obstacles along the way. In turn this allows you to set up the appropriate actions.
Example: In previous weight loss attempts I have tried to have an ‘all or nothing approach’, but have found that this lasted a week or two and then I failed completely. I do not enjoy cooking, and find that time is always an issue in the mornings with getting everybody ready. I also have an old ankle injury that means I cannot run.
By considering these points mentioned above it allows the action plan to be realistic and is more likely to result in success.
What are some key actions you can put in place?
Having looked at where you are now and any potential obstacles, it really helps to visually see what needs to be done to achieve the goal set and how big the gap is. This may be a process whereby some actions need to come first before others can be put in place. The important thing for setting key actions is they are realistic for you to do.
Example: I will start by only having 1 take-away each week, and will replace 3 of my cups of coffee with a glass of water. I will reduce my wine to 1 glass each evening, and I will join my partner to take the children out with the dog after school instead of sitting on the sofa scrolling through Facebook.
You may be reading this thinking that much more needs to be done than those actions mentioned above, but the key is to make the initial steps achievable with a view that these will change as the journey continues (as mentioned below). If that person decided that they would completely cut out wine, cook everything from scratch every single evening and start jogging 5km each morning, whilst this may be possible while the Willpower is present, it is the staying power that is most important.
Review, review, review.
This is such a key part that often gets overlooked. But how do you know that you are on the right path if you don’t keep checking in?
Choose how often you will review your actions, assess how they are helping you achieve your goals and then importantly, adapt as needed.
Example: I have reduced my takeaways to 1 each week successfully for the last 2 weeks, my Partner has agreed to help by cooking 2 meals each week. I have managed to cut my coffee down naturally to just 5 cups instead of the 7 I set myself and feel this has been quite easy, so will now try just having 3 cups (1 for breakfast, lunch and dinner) and will have water throughout the rest of the day. I achieved 3 out of 7 nights with just having 1 glass of wine, I found on the other nights I had another just because of boredom, so I think if I go to bed half hour earlier each night it will stop me drinking that extra unnecessary glass. I have successfully managed to get out for some exercise and will continue with this.
By regularly reviewing the actions it means you are much more likely to achieve your goals. A suggestion would be to schedule in a set time on a weekly basis and to compare how you are progressing towards what you set yourself in your goal (long term and short term)
You now have a great structure for how to set goals for a more fulfilling life, and the beauty is that it can be used for any goal in any area of your life. If we could pick out one of the key parts of this whole process it is most definitely your ‘WHY’, this is ultimately your motivator and it’s what puts the fire in your belly, so make sure you spend lots of time on this part and don’t be afraid to dig deep to really find out why the goal you are setting yourself is so important. We urge you before you finish reading to re-visit the example above for knowing your destination: You can feel the emotion and the importance of this goal and you can tell that this is everything to that person. THAT is what a goal should be!
But most importantly, have fun! Who said this all needs to be so serious? After all, when we enjoy something we are much more likely to carry it on.