Are you setting and achieving goals consistently? Setting goals is a powerful practice.
I’ve always set big goals for myself. A few years ago though, I found myself setting goals and not achieving them.
My results would fall way below what I had set out to achieve. I’d end up feeling like a failure, and also super disconnected from my original goal. It didn’t feel good.
Over time, I’ve improved my process a lot. I don’t always achieve every single goal (that would mean I actually wasn’t stretching myself), but I do make significant progress.
And I’ve found myself achieving some things I used to think would just never be possible, like moving to California with two small kids and running a six-figure business!
I’ve learned that setting powerful goals requires taking your time and being thoughtful. It’s not something you should rush through. It also takes more than a framework to get there.
Here are 7 tips to set and achieve your goals.
Make your goals SMART
I know I said you need more than a framework, but I feel like I have to mention the SMART process because it offers a good foundation.
In case you’re not familiar, your goals should be:
Specific: You should be able to answer the question: what exactly do you want to achieve? It’s ok to start broad, and then narrow it down as you go through the rest of the process.
Measurable: How will you know you’ve achieved this goal? What is the result you’ll see? And is there a specific metric you can use to measure success?
Achievable: Is this goal something you can actually accomplish? You want to consider circumstances and things that are out of your control, while also taking into account what else you’ve committed to. After you consider all these things, can you actually accomplish this goal?
Relevant: You always want to connect to the bigger picture. Why are you setting this goal? What will it help you accomplish?
Time Bound: By when do you want to accomplish this goal? What are the time parameters from start to finish? This helps to keep you in check and hopefully on track.
Although I love this framework, I’ve learned there’s so much more to setting powerful goals. So let’s get to the other good stuff…
Align your goals with your “healthy self”
What is your “healthy self?” Your healthy self is the wiser part of you. This part knows what’s best for you. She tends to guide you to follow your heart and instincts.
This is important because she isn’t setting ego-driven goals. When we set ego-driven goals, maybe we’re checking things off our list and feeling accomplished, but after that win passes there isn’t that deep sense of fulfillment.
It can be difficult to know if our goals are coming from the ego or the healthy self. But one way to check is to ask yourself: What will achieving this goal allow me to do? How will I feel when I’ve accomplished it?
Then notice what comes up. Ego-driven goals have a sense of attachment, whereas healthy self goals may have a more neutral energy.
The more healthy-self goals you set, the more in alignment you live with your values and purpose.
If getting to a goal feels like a slog, then don’t make it a goal. You should enjoy the process as much as possible.
Ask yourself, how can I make this process more enjoyable?
Maybe that means bringing a friend or two along with you for the process or sharing your progress with a community.
This year, when I was working on my big 3 goals for the year, I shared my progress with 3 of my best friends.
And now I check in with them each week that I get closer to the goal. That celebration and acknowledgement helps me to keep going.
Connect to your goals on all levels
You have to feel really connected to your goal emotionally, mentally and physically.
Yes, even physically!
First, you have to see what you want in your mind and believe that it’s possible. Daydreaming, brainstorming, and writing things down can all support this.
Then you want to feel it in your body like it has already happened for you.
One way to do this is to connect more deeply with the emotions of achieving your goals.
- How will you feel when you’ve accomplished this goal?
- Where in your body do you feel that?
- What sensations are present?
Then be with this experience even for 2 to 3 minutes.
I find this helpful because it’s another way to connect more deeply with what you want. And, it allows you to feel that what you want is possible, which is motivating.
You can set goals that motivate you and that are exciting, but there are always circumstances and things that are outside of our control. Plus, life happens!
Take some time to anticipate roadblocks and things that may get in the way.
For example, I set a big personal finance goal for 2023. Roadblocks that may come up are unexpected expenses for our kids. Or, we may have extra travel expenses since we moved across the country and live far away from our family.
Don’t get discouraged by the roadblocks. Instead, incorporate those roadblocks into your goal.
While setting my financial goal for the year, I went through all of our upcoming expenses. Then I added an extra buffer for the unexpected.
Once I did this, I realized that it may be more difficult to get to where I want to be. So I extended my timeline a bit to make my goal more achievable.
The more you can anticipate potential roadblocks, the more you can adjust and pivot as you go.
Less is more
Focusing on less is more, is always more.
I know this is hard for my multi-passionate people, but the fewer things you focus on, the more progress you make.
This is because you need to leverage many of your mental, emotional and physical resources to achieve this one goal so you don’t want to spread yourself too thin.
My recommendation is to pick two to three big goals for the year, and focus on them with excitement.
Don’t be too rigid
Leverage structure in a way that serves you. I love structure! It helps my type A, high-achieving personality with setting and achieving goals.
I’ve found though that I also need a lot of flow. If my process for getting to my goal becomes too structured, I lose the excitement and that has a huge impact on my results.
So go for structure, but set it up in a way that energizes you.