“It’s time to stop setting the wrong goals and start using goals to determine the journey, not the destination.”
A key reason that they feel this way is that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about what they want from life, and haven’t set themselves formal goals. After all, would you set out on a major journey with no real idea of your destination? Probably not!
1. Think about what you want.
Your goals should be about what the most important things to you. Ask yourself: among all the things I could do in life, what do I care about most? What are the high priorities? Then, decide on just a small number of things to work on (one at a time, if you prefer). Having goals that matter to you is the key to staying motivated day in and day out. You’re pushed to actually achieve it, because you’re doing it not for anyone else, but for yourself.
Again, focusing your time and energy on just a few things—the important ones—makes you more likely to achieve your goals. Distractions are never helpful and will only drain you.
2. Your true potentials will be unlocked.
Not only does progress motivate you to keep going, but also makes you start believing in yourself more. You’ll know more about your abilities, and discover your unknown potentials. You’ll see yourself achieve what you didn’t think you could.
You’ll learn that your life is the totality of the choices you make along the way. With each step you take towards you goal, you’re writing a new page in your big book of life.
3. Stop setting goals for the wrong reason
The first step to setting goals that will bring you an awesome life is to stop setting goals that will bring you a sucky life.
Most goals are about a destination. “I want a million dollars.” “I want enlightenment.” “I want a truck.” If you tend to set your goals based on the destination, and don’t consider the journey, try switching it around.
4. Write about yourself
One good way to start moving from general to specific is to do some free-writing about yourself. Think about your personality and your interests. This can help you define what is most important to you.
- Try writing about how you enjoy spending your time. Begin your brainstorm by writing down what you enjoy doing and what excites you.
- Don’t limit yourself to activities or experiences that you think are productive or “worth doing.” The point of a brainstorm is to get down as many ideas as possible, and this list will be useful later on in the process.
- Write about things you are interested in and/or would like to learn more about. Are you interested in science? In literature? In music? Any of these could become lifelong pursuits.
5. Set SMART goals
A helpful tool to evaluate your goal is to see if it fulfils the SMART criteria:
- Specific (S) — A clear and specific idea of what you want to achieve. A simple trick to set a goal is to start with a verb.
- Measurable (M) — Be specific with how much or how many about your goal.
- Achievable (A) — Look at the skills you have or you lack. Make a plan of the exact things you’ll have to do to reach your goal.
- Realistic (R) — Think about the resources available to you and be realistic about the effort you’re willing to put it.
- Time-bound (T) — Set a time limit to keep you motivated. It can be a daily, weekly, or monthly target.
These 5 letters help you set the right goal for your situation, and help you achieve it effectively.
6. If the goal doesn’t work, change it
- We adopt goals for one reason and one reason only: to change our lives. Rather than adopting a goal you hope will change your life once you reach it, do it the other way around. Choose the journey that for you would be awesome–the activities, personal growth, and friends. Then choose a goal that acts as a compass to give you that life as part of the journey.
- And if you ever feel your direction needs changing, change goals. Because it’s not about where you end up, it’s about the life you live on the way. Your life is too precious to settle for less than extraordinary.
7. Make a Plan for Achievement
At the point that you have a few (or many) possible life goals, it’s time to get serious about making a plan for achievement. A first step in this is prioritizing your goals.
- Create subgoals
- Create a timeline/ TO-DO list
- Rank your goals
- Do some research
- Plan for obstacles etc.
8. Working Toward Your Goals
- Create the right environment. Whatever your goal, there are probably some environments that are better for achieving it than others. Do whatever you can to make sure that the people and physical spaces you spend time with don’t create obstacles.
- Get to work. Pick a date to begin work on the first subgoal on your list. Then, dive in! If you aren’t sure how to accomplish your first subgoal, it is too complicated to be your first subgoal. If you can’t identify the first step toward that goal, you may need to to more research and/or break it down into smaller subgoals.
- Work on your goals consistently. Once you get started, the key to achieving life goals is work on them steadily and consistently.
9. Stay motivated
Because consistency is so important, it is crucial that you stay motivated.
Having achievable subgoals is crucial to your motivation. It will be much easier to stay enthusiastic and committed if you feel that you are making progress.
Use reinforcement to create incentives. Positive reinforcement is adding something good to your life. Negative reinforcement is taking away something unwanted. Both can help you stay motivated. If you are trying to keep yourself focused on filling out a permit application for your restaurant, and notice you are getting distracted, offer yourself a reward. Maybe after you’ve finished the application, you can treat yourself to a professional massage. Or, maybe you’ll be more motivated by allowing yourself to skip out on a weekly chore for once. Either way, reinforcement can keep you on task.
10. Track your progress
One of the best ways to stay motivated is keep track of your progress and check it regularly. Depending on your goal and personal preferences, you can use an app, a journal, or a calendar.
Any of these will help remind you of subgoals you’ve already achieved. They can also keep you accountable to yourself for staying on schedule.
Writing in a journal regularly can also help ease stress and anxiety that might come with the process of striving for a long term goal.