It's that time of the year when we sit down, feeling refreshed, motivated and ready to write out our goals for the year.
As humans, we’re designed to be goal-orientated. We're naturally driven towards achieving goals and desired outcomes that will improve our lives and better ourselves.
We need something to work towards or we often feel lost, uneasy and out of sync.
And as much of a gift that this is, it can also be unravelling – placing high expectations, pressure and stress on ourselves to achieve such goals.
This article is centred around how to set goals, achieve them and how to avoid “failure”, but it's also important to first put goal setting and the striving toward them into perspective.
Table of Contents
Striving For Goals Without Ruining Your Health
Having goals and striving to achieve them is great but it’s not worth compromising your wellbeing, health, relationships or mental state.
Too often we’re encouraged to go balls to the wall and work until we drop. We live in a society that encourages burn out and working hard until the point of exhaustion. It's even seen as a badge of honour to work and live this way.
Derailing your life and health is never worth forfeiting for the achievement of your goals.
There’s also the component of enjoying the present and trusting your journey when striving to achieve our goals, and that failing is a part of life. We need to shift our mindset around failing – which in itself is a key to achieving our goals – but more on that later.
For now, let’s talk about how to set goals.
How To Set Goals
There are multiple methods for achieving goals: using time frames and vehicles; such as sticky notes, vision boards, journals, bucket lists etc.
Here are a some tools and tactics that may work for you:
Setting goals from a micro level to a macro level can be very valuable. Here’s how to do it:
Set yourself three goals each day.
Three things that are very do-able in one day. Don’t trick yourself into overshooting or choosing too many tasks that you know you can’t get done in a day because of your time or schedule.
These three things that you commit to each day could be replying to ten emails, writing a blog, doing the washing, only drinking one coffee, reading one chapter of your book, listening to two podcasts, making three business calls, editing your website, posting twenty orders, chasing two new leads, or making an appointment for the dentist – whatever it is, outline three things each day that you can accomplish that also aligns with your values, intended outcomes and macro level dreams.
By setting yourself these three daily goals and working to achieve them – it creates momentum for yourself, builds self-esteem and signals your brain to look for more things to achieve.
From there, you can set weekly and monthly goals in which your 3x daily goals also align with.
For example, if your monthly goal is to make $6,000, then your daily and weekly goals should be centred around gaining profit, chasing new leads, strengthening existing relationships, improving your systems, feedback, etc.
Or, if your goal is to lose 4kg, then you must commit to going to the gym 4x a week (or more or less), running or riding a bike to work and tracking your food intake each day, for example.
Or, your goal might be to deepen your relationship with your significant other. Each week, organise a date night together and tell each other three things every day why you’re grateful for them.
Aligning your daily, weekly and monthly goals with your then quarterly, half-yearly or yearly goals – which will expand into your big, overarching goal and dream. This is how you step closer and closer, each day, each week, each month to achieving your big dream whilst kicking ass on your micro level dreams and goals – adding purpose, momentum, confidence and structure to your life.
Writing Your Goals
Choosing a method you prefer, either write your goals on a piece of paper or type them out on the computer and split them into these categories:
- Academic Goals
Then using these categories, write or type out your goals within each of these areas of your life and then, breaking it down into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals that attain to the macro level dream.
Doing it in such a manner, at the micro level (daily) to the macro level (yearly / lifetime) gives you direction, so when you’re lacking motivation or feeling lost or consumed in life’s day-to-day’s – you have a reference point – a plan, for your life.
Writing down our goals in this way also helps us to manifest them. We begin visualising them and start working towards their success, and prime our brain to look for patterns and develop habits that are in inline with our values and ideal self.
When you set yourself goals, it also gives us a bumper for motivation, direction and action – which is what drives the goals – action.
Actually doing what we write down or, what we say we’re going to do to reach our goals is what it's all about.
There is no point, writing down your goals, and then that’s it.
We need to also create actionable steps to achieve them.
Maybe you think about your goals every now and then, maybe they’re just written in the first page of your 2019 journal and calendar, but then we just embark on wishful thinking – or, we self-sabotage.
How We Self-Sabotage Our Goal Setting
Wishful thinking lacks action.
We just think, if we write down our goals and say a prayer, make a wish, see ourselves in that that the work is done. But sadly, it doesn’t work that way.
It’s the everyday habits, behaviours that achieve your daily and weekly goals that surmount to the big goals and dreams you want to achieve.
Also, when goal setting – be honest with yourself.
Don’t be ashamed of your goals.
If you want $10 million dollars – own that. These are your goals and no one else’s. Don’t worry about other people’s judgment’s or what society encourages us to want or need.
Also, be careful of limiting beliefs – the stories we tell ourselves that stop us from achieving and doing what we want – here are some examples:
“No matter what I do, I just can't lose weight, it’s just who I am.”
“I never went to university, so I won’t get that promotion.”
“There are no good guys/women left.”
“Work’s not that bad, I shouldn’t complain, and just stay put.”
“Someone else will get it, I’m not _____ enough.”
“My family wouldn’t approve of that direction, it’d cause so much drama and problems.”
These statements (or stories) are self-sabotaging and will. automatically prevent us from achieving our desired goals.
Our belief in these stories already sets us up to fail before we’ve even begun.
You never even gave yourself the chance.
You stopped yourself because inside you didn’t believe you could achieve these goals. And that’s where goal setting really lies – in your mindset.
How you think about yourself, your self-belief, self-confidence, self-reliance, and ability to self-soothe determine if you’ll actually try to achieve your goals, or at the first, second and third opportunity you succumb to your limiting story and go to your default mode which is usually the opposite of what the goal requires of you.
And how you can overcome this is to start off with small, attainable goals, that you can do and will achieve. This builds momentum for your bigger (macro level) goals.
Setting SMART Goals
Using the anagram–SMART–is a helpful tool to help us set our goals, and probably the best and diversely used structure to goal setting:
Specific – The goal has to be significant and precise, get to the nitty-gritty, for example: “I will ride my bike to work 4x per week.”
Measurable – You need to be able to measure your goal so you know if you achieved it or not, or, are able to reflect and adjust accordingly if need be. For example: “I will go from 85 kg to 80 kg in four weeks.”
Achievable– Make a pact with yourself: Agree with what you’re going to do and then action it. For example: “I will practice riding on the weekends before going on the roads.”
Realistic – Your goal has to be achievable within your resources, environment and timeframe. For example: “Riding to work 4x per week will help me lose that 5kg.”
Time orientated – Give yourself a timeline and a due date, for example: “by February 12th I will have lost 5 kg.”
When writing your goals, it’s helpful to write them in the present tense – as if your goal has already happened and you have attained it.
Instead of “I want to be…” or “I will be…” it will be “I am _____” (insert goal here).
Another macro-level goal setting method is to write out your “the perfect day”.
I heard about it from entrepreneur and podcaster Lewis Howes. What would your ideal perfect day look like?
This also gives you an idea if you’re feeling lost, or of what your goals might be.
What do you look like? Your home? Your car? Your job? Your family? Your surroundings? What do you do for the day? Who do you spend it with? Where are you? How are you feeling? Why do you want this day to go this way? And then deconstruct it from there.
Going from the macro level goals and dreams down to the micro level is an effective way of working backwards to achieve your perfect day – a day in which you visit once a week or month to really cement why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Deciphering the Why
Deciphering why you want what you want and why you want your goals is the other piece of the puzzle.
By attaching emotion and your identity with the goals, it makes it more likely that you will actually achieve them.
When you’re invested in your goals, you’ll be willing to change your habits and behaviours in order to achieve the desired outcomes.
Knowing your “why” will also enable you to stand strong when old-limiting (self-sabotaging) stories appear, when you fall into default mode or when distractions occur.
Having a why will also help you be reminded, emotionally - which are powerful motivators of why you set your goals in the first place.
Creating Habits that Stick
Creating the habits and behaviours that will successfully manifest your goals is another piece of the puzzle.
Because habits run our lives.
And these habits will either move you towards or away from your goals.
If your goal is to lose 4kg in a month, then you will need to change something about your lifestyle to achieve that result.
So you step into that version of yourself.
You become the type of person who rides to work, who works out, whose conscious of what they’re putting in their body. You make your habits work for you so achieving your goal is inevitable because that’s just what you do, and who you are.
How You Create Your Goals
How you create your goals is also very important.
It has to be personal and you’re more likely to achieve them if they're in your face every day as reminders – forcing you to see, read, and envision your goals more frequently.
Some ideas are: you could use vision boards, sticky notes, journaling or your calendar.
If you’re a visual person, create a vision board. Pop sticky notes on your mirror or office wall, somewhere you’ll always see them.
Do you open your journal and calendar each day and know if you have your goals written down on the first (or every) page, will that be the best way for them to stay in your mind?
If you’re an audio person, record your goals and listen to them each morning or night. Share your goals and get someone to hold you accountable, or even use Google home or Siri to read your goals to you every day.
Whatever works best for you – do that.
11 Reasons Why People Fail to Achieve Their Goals
Let’s look at some of the best strategies to overcome the eleven main reasons why people fail to achieve their goals.
1. Our Limiting Beliefs
Limiting beliefs are those self-sabotaging stories that we tell ourselves.
They usually stem from our childhood, where we were imprinted and impressionable and adopted words and ideas about ourselves based on moments that have happened.
These, I feel, are the biggest roadblocks to succeeding and achieving our goals.
We don’t feel worthy. We feel ashamed, embarrassed, sell ourselves short and settle for less than we deserve.
Start out by writing down as many limiting stories you can think of and watch how you speak.
Do you repeat the same stories?
When you meet new people, do you say the same things over and over?
Do you tell yourself the same thing, over and over?
And then, why? Why do you tell those stories and make them a part of your identity?
Do they serve you? Or are they constricting you, keeping you stuck?
Where do they stem from?
When did you first think that and what cemented this belief?
Did your parents or siblings tell you this? Did society? Did your friends?
Reflect on this and take as much time as you need.
Once you have seen your limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging stories, you can gain your power back.
Then, you are able to re-write these stories into ones that match your goals and dreams and who you want to be.
2. Our Environment
Humans contain mirror neurons which means we match and mirror the actions and behaviours of those around us, especially who we spend the most amount of time with.
If you want to achieve your goals, find a tribe who share similar goals or are doing what you want to be doing.
Poke around the people you work with, your family and friends, and see if they align with your goals.
Again, with the 4 kg a month goal, do any of your colleagues ride to work? Do they have any advice for you? Is anyone else in your circle trying to lose weight? Can you support each other?
If you want to make $6,000 a month at work but you currently only make $4,000, surround yourself with those who are hungry for greater results and distance yourself from the individuals who just complain and waste time at work.
3. Setting Accountability
Get yourself an accountability partner.
Someone you trust who will call you out on your shit. Someone who you will feel uncomfortable to let down. Someone who checks in with you to make sure you’re on track.
Whether it’s a mentor, a friend, a fellow goal orientated individual or group, or yourself. Challenge yourself to not fall into default mode or make excuses to avoid the goals you’ve set for yourself.
Maybe place a bet with yourself and someone else, or a group? Make it competitive or say you will do something you don’t want to do if you don’t achieve your goals. This will hold you accountable and keep you on track.
4. Failing is a Good Thing
Failing can always be viewed as a blessing in disguise. It’s a learning curve. Failing is required, it’s a “pass go and collect $200.”
If we don't fail, we don’t learn. We don’t grow or adapt and that is how we achieve our goals – through growing, adapting and learning.
We need to learn what doesn’t work, to figure out what does. Don’t be hard on yourself if you “fail.” Get out of your head, you’re not a failure, you just failed at this “thing.”
Don’t attach failure to your identity and sense of self. View failure as a necessary stepping stone toward achieving your goals.
Laugh at yourself, self-soothe, be patient and try again. Throw away the shame and just keep trying. Don’t give up!
5. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Choose SMART goals–3x daily goals that you can achieve.
Don’t try to run 5km when you haven’t jogged in years. Start out with a 2km walk (or less), and build from there.
Be realistic and allow yourself time and room to grow. Don’t beat yourself up or give up, or be disappointed. Learn from your mistakes.
Be patient and allow yourself to feel the feels and use it as fuel to continue and keep striving.
Nothing you want will magically happen overnight.
It takes repeated work and effort to change habits and achieve our desired goals.
6. Change Your Habits and Behaviours
If we don’t change and shift our habits, values and behaviours, we’ll lose interest in our goals then blow them off and fail to achieve them.
This is the bulletproof way to achieve or fail, no matter what you set out to do.
Change your lifestyle to compliment your desired results and always be in alignment with your micro and macro (long-term) goals.
7. Focus On the Journey As Much As the End
Rather than obsessing about achieving your goal(s) and the end product, the emotions that come with it, and outcome that it brings, tune into the process along the way.
See yourself changing, evolving, growing, learning and enjoy the practice of getting to the goal because that’s what is happening in the now.
There’s another concept that when you shoot for the moon, you miss the stars, that the end product is never as good as we envision it to be. It’s a short-lived victory.
So remember, enjoy the journey as much as the outcome.
8. Deliberately Practice
Achieving any goal we set ourselves will require effort.
It requires energy, prioritising, making time and honouring it. Give the right amount of energy, effort and the time to your micro goals, which will build into and achieve your desired macro goals.
9. Become Conscious
Consciously put your goals in your face all the time.
Read your goals each day, week, and month. Envision them, feel them completed, will them and adjust them accordingly.
It’s okay if our goals change. It’s okay if we fail and need to create new ones in the adjusted direction.
Just be aware of how everything is playing out, your attitude, your environment, your commitment, your limiting beliefs, your self-sabotage, your weaknesses and your strengths, and adjust accordingly.
10. Act Now
We need to go out there and actually execute, actually do what we need to do.
Without intention and action, goals are never going to be achieved. Marry your habits and actions together, so that it becomes automatic and carves out a new neural pathway.
Neurons that fire together, wire together.
For example, a goal of mine is to have cold showers each morning (it's one of my 3 daily goals) and so, I’ve set myself up to automatically do it because it’s become part of my morning routine. My alarm goes off, I just get up, get naked and throw myself in that cold shower, no time to think, to talk myself out of it. So now my alarm and cold showers are married together because as soon as that alarm goes off, a cold shower has to follow, and it does.
Figure out what goal you can insert into your already current routine, or what can you marry that you already do to achieve a micro goal.
11. Don’t Be Too hard on Yourself
We often beat ourselves up, work too much, sleep too little, burn the candles at both ends and then wonder why we have no energy to achieve anything, let alone our goals and intentions?
Remember, you’re a human being whose body needs rest, replenishment and fun. These are all part of the formula.
Too often we go from 0-100 too quickly, we burn out and then we’re back at 0 again. Then we feel disappointed and throw the baby out with the bathwater and wonder why we even tried in the first place?
When we take our time and set ourselves up to win or learn, playing the long game is sometimes the best thing for us.
Proceed with the necessary to attain your goals but don’t neglect rest time either. Don’t push yourself too hard, physically or mentally.
Remember to take care of yourself– your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing is all very important, as well as nurturing your relationships.
All of these are a part of your success and having goals in all these areas will help you to stay levelled and balanced.
Embrace Your Failures
Remember to embrace failure.
Align your values and habits with your goals and hold yourself accountable to the success of your goals.
Set 3x daily achievable goals (should be different each day), put in the effort required for success and be aware of your self-sabotaging stories and enjoy the journey of reaching for your goals and achieving them for the day, week, month and year ahead.
Written by Eliza Hedley
Eliza is the millennial nutritionist– a health, mindset and abundance enthusiast obsessed with helping millennial's experience living at a higher level.
Her relaxed new age approach and understanding of nutrition and wellness sees her empowering and coaching individuals to understand that their health is the ultimate asset.
Upon experiencing first hand the power and place of tonic herbalism and medicinal mushrooms in everyday life, Eliza’s become an adaptogen fangirl and feels their utilisation in today’s world is essential for abundance and wellbeing.