We all set goals from time to time. In fact before we know it we’ll be looking ahead to 2018, and lots of us will be planning New Year’s resolutions, typically with an eye toward self-improvement of one kind or another. Setting a goal is the easy part though. Meeting it can be a great challenge, and can sometimes require some specific strategies or psychological maneuvers.
These are five general tips for how you might better approach reaching a personal goal.
1. Focus On Progress
You may have seen the recommendation to focus on the good in a previous article about how to be more optimistic. Well, this is more or less the same concept. In striving toward a goal, no matter what part of your life it might relate to, you’re going to have to progress gradually to some extent. Perhaps your goal is not to drink soda for a year, or to drop 15 pounds, or to become more organized. Try to take the time to recognize the baby steps – that first month without soda, the first time you weigh less, or the step of buying a day planner. Whatever the effort may be, recognizing your own progress can serve as excellent motivation.
2. Set Mini-Goals
This idea goes hand-in-hand with the first one, but it’s still important to single out. The benefits of incremental goals have been well documented, specifically with regard to fitness, and they give you an excellent way to stay motivated. This isn’t just about focusing on progress, but rather about setting yourself up for achievements en route to your ultimate goal. Using the common weight loss example, for instance, losing the first five pounds of a planned 20 can be a huge deal! With your ultimate goal of 20 in mind, you should first determine that you’re going to get to five. It keeps your timeline realistic, and it shows you that you can absolutely do what you’re setting out to do.
3. Bet On Yourself
This is a concept we often think about in vague, unrelatable, or unserious terms. For instance, you might jokingly bet a friend that you can accomplish something. You might enter a fantasy sports league for money, effectively betting on your ability. You may even have heard about Floyd Mayweather, the famous boxer, having bet on himself to win a recent mega-fight. Mayweather went public on the talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live revealing that he would wager on his own victory. It may sound a little bit silly, but you can achieve the same sort of motivation. You need only find a friend or family member who will bet against you that you won’t achieve something, and you’ll be surprised how determined you become to reach the goal. For that matter, there have even been instances when individuals pitted themselves against actual betting firms for personal achievements!
4. Adjust For Personality
There’s a misconception that a legitimate personal goal means changing who you are in one way or another. For example, if you haven’t ever worked out much but you’re determined to achieve better fitness, you might imagine totally turning yourself upside down, beginning to get up at 6 AM for morning jogs. Research shows that’s probably not going to happen though. As one article put it, your goals must be relevant to who you are. That doesn’t mean you can’t start jogging if you never have before; obviously some level of change is required to meet a goal. But you should do an honest assessment of who you are, what tendencies you have, etc., and find the best way to tailor a goal-oriented process toward yourself. You’ll be more likely to stick with the effort.
5. Find A Partner
This is a tried and true strategy that can be one of the simpler ways to excel in chasing certain goals. Yes, at the end of the day your goal is personal and requires your own time, effort, and thought. But if you can go through the process with a friend who has a similar goal in mind, you may find it’s easier to stay diligent. A friend can hold you accountable, motivate you when you aren’t feeling good about things, and ultimately make the whole thing seem a little bit more casual.