Why is it so easy to write goals but impossible to follow through?
Writing and setting goals can be an emotional rollercoaster. Our mind is filled with awesome ideas, we feel motivated and then get overwhelmed.
We give up only to start again next year.
There are times when life just gets hectic and we neglect what we are aiming for in life and that’s okay because even Steve Jobs had unproductive seasons. The problem with constantly abandoning goals is we end up craving a different life and losing sight of who we are. We start having a mid-life crisis in our early thirties. We feel unsuccessful and sleepwalk through life.
“If only…’’ seems to be the common theme amongst retirees who feel too old to accomplish certain goals. What they failed to realise is that it really wasn’t so complicated…the steps were in front of them the whole time.
Have you noticed why everyone has goals at the beginning of the year? The mind is somewhat relaxed after vacation, people feel ready to embrace new goals when there are no demands. When work and life schedules kick in, goals become irritating and eventually, unattainable. Work. Kids. Commitments. All these things take priority because they are important, right? But if you never prioritise yourself that’s a problem because as the writer Jim Rohn famously once said,
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
You want that sense of accomplishment, right? You want to achieve something for you and not just your employer, yeah? Then ditch the new Year mindset, simplify your goals, and start small. Otherwise, your goal will become another new year’s resolution and procrastination will kick in.
5 keys to setting clear goals
1. Simplify your life
It’s easy to be busy in this time-poor world we live in where we subconsciously say yes to everything. Busy is our automatic response to everyone these days who asks about our life. We feel like somehow we’re less productive if we’re not busy doing something worthy of acclaim. Simplifying your life means saying no to less important things and yes to things that make your soul sing.
If you’re too busy to do anything for you then you’re not truly living.
Being too busy all the time frustrates us. Busyness removes our creative flow, depletes our energy and creates a feeling of mind claustrophobia where our brains can’t cope with additional demands. Sure, work might pay the bills or give you endorphins while you smash your work PKI’s, but if you had to stop everything overnight, literally, if you lost your job today what else do you have? Do you have a life outside of work?
2. Adopt the SMART goal process and create a poster for your fridge
For years, educational organisations and workplaces have used this framework to help people establish clear, practical goals. Smart stands for:
Specific – Aim for goals that are specific to what you want to achieve. Provide a clear outline of what you need to do. Don’t just write ‘Save money’ – provide a specific purpose to your goal with an end result in mind ie Save $25,000 for a new car.
Measurable – Ensure your goal is measurable and that you can track your progress. Can you quantify your goal? For example, the goal ‘Lose weight’ is not measurable – you haven’t got a clear idea of how much weight you want to lose. Lose 5kg in three months gives you a clear, measurable, goal that is easily attainable.
Attainable – is your goal realistic? Ensure you can achieve your goal based on your current skills and circumstances. For example, you’re probably not going to achieve any Mt Everest climbs this year with Covid-19 cases still rampant. You’re also not winning American Idol if you can’t sing. Be realistic and stick to what you’re good at.
Relevant – Keep your goals relevant and consistent. If your goal is to save money to buy a house – don’t add additional goals to purchase a car or quit your day job. Stay focussed on the main goal.
Time – Give yourself an exact deadline (ie I will complete writing three chapters of my book by the end of January. I will lose three kilos by Christmas. This way you have something to aim for and you keep yourself accountable.
You can find further information and examples of SMART goals here:
3. Keep a calendar on your phone to remind you of deadlines.
There’s no point in making goals if you don’t remind yourself of deadlines. You need an end in sight, but you also need to visually see what you have to do and when. Set alerts on your phone to remind you of any deadlines.
4. Have an accountability partner
Every important, life-changing goal needs a buddy to help remind you. If you are the kind of person who is not great with personal organisation and frequently gives in to your emotions, then having a friend to keep you accountable will do wonders.
Obviously, you need to find a friend who is not failing miserably in your particular goal area (ie if your goal is to lose weight, don’t ask your friend who is 90 pounds and invites you out to KFC to keep you accountable).
5. Aim high but be realistic.
Getting back to SMART goals and the realistic aspect, it’s important to note that being honest with yourself and where you’re at is critical to any goal planning. If you have a lot going on right now, don’t overload yourself with a burdensome goal that will crush your spirits if you can’t achieve it. If you’re busy, start with something small. It could be as simple as Marie Kondo-ing your bedroom or attending a book club for three months. Once you have achieved these with ease then move on to the serious goals.
At the end of the day be kind and allow yourself room to grow.