I have been thinking about this post for a while and I planned to keep it in my mind until the New Year when most people are setting themselves goals aka New Year resolutions. But the more I thought about it the more I realised now is the right time – not only because I know many people see September as a second New Year (thank you to Monica from The Elgin Avenue for verbalising that!) but also because I believe that starting now is always the first step to achieving your goals – not putting it off until a later date.
“Every positive change in your life begins with a clear, unequivocal decision that you are going to do something or stop something” (anon)
Your goals don’t always have to be a big life goal either. In February, I made the decision that I would introduce regular exercise into my lifestyle. I made the commitment to exercise once a week and whilst I know for many this is a ridiculously small amount of exercise and it isn’t a huge change but it was more than I had ever done consistently I can happily say that I have stuck to the goal that I set myself (a whole six months so far!) – and I feel pretty darn pleased about it too!
The thoughts, actions and strategy I took in my goal setting to ensure I achieved that relatively small goal is however transferable to any type of goal; be it a huge life goal or just a small habit that you want to change.
My top 5 tips for successful goal setting
Break it down
If you have a goal in mind it is useful to start by breaking it down in to manageable parts. Coming back to my exercise goal – really the bigger goal for me is to get fitter and make exercise part of my life. That sounded a bit hard as a whole and pretty easy to get side-tracked from.
So I broke the goal down – what would it look if I took the first step towards getting more fit? What was the easiest thing I could do to integrate exercise in to my life?
This can work whatever your goal – if you want to eat healthier what are the smaller steps that would lead to that bigger change. Can you change just one thing to begin with that would move you towards your goal?
If you want to move house, change career, stop smoking, get a promotion, what ever it is you want to achieve, ask yourself; what is the first thing you would need to do make that happen? And then what is the second and so on.
Once you have broken your goal down to more manageable parts, think about the first step. Is it realistic? Can you actually start to do it now? What can you realistically start to do and easily stick to?
If it involves a time commitment and you are already living a busy life, look at your schedule and see where you can allow some time regularly to work towards your goal. Then make your goal realistic within your time constraints.
If it involves changing a habit that you already have, don’t try and change it overnight. For example, if you want to eat healthier switching to an entirely plant-based diet overnight might last for a week or two but unlikely any longer. Decide what is realistic to you – decide on some smaller more realistic changes and build from there once that is your new normal.
Start now, not tomorrow
The problem that I have when I hear people say they will start working towards their goal at some future dat is that they are putting it off. This probably means they are making too a challenging goal that will be stuck to for only a short period of time.
I’ve heard the words ‘I’ll start my diet on Monday’ too many times!
“A year from now, you’ll wish you had started today” Karen Lamb
Don’t put it off or hang around – get going now as the sooner you start, the closer you will be to reaching your goal.
Make it accountable
It is always good to make yourself and your goal accountable. The type of person you are will drive how you can make yourself accountable. For some people simply writing it down and setting a deadline (be it a self imposed deadline or one that is externally set – for example a wedding date etc) will do the trick. Others may need external accountability such as publicly declaring the goal so it has be done or getting a buddy on board.
Have a think about what has helped you stick to goals in the past and make your new goal accountable in the same way.
Be kind to yourself
And finally, once you get started remember to be kind to yourself. It is likely you will slip somewhere along the line. Don’t let that put you off or derail you completely. Brush yourself down and get straight back to it. If t was going to be plain sailing the whole way it wouldn’t be a goal.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Are you good at goal setting?
Do you use any of my goal setting tips already or do you know of other effective goal setting ideas?
If you enjoyed this post, I have a favour to ask of you…
I have been nominated for the prestigious Amara Blog Awards 2017 in the Best Interior Lifestyle category. I need your vote to help me secure a place in the finals. It only takes a moment and I would be eternally grateful. Vote here!
(Voting is open until 15 September 2017)