Goal setting can be very fun and exciting at times!
There’s nothing like being pumped up to make some positive changes in your life…things like losing weight, exercising more, eating better, learning a new craft or skill, etc.
Once you decide on a goal, you sit down and make yourself a nice little plan that’s guaranteed to get you the results you desire.
And then comes the tricky part: you actually have to stick to your plan.
Unfortunately, this is where most people drop off. After all, if the goal is worth achieving, it’s very likely going to involve a lot of hard work.
So what should you do? (If you’re thinking you shouldn’t make goals and plans in the first place, please keep reading!)
While there are about a million strategies you could use to help you reach your goals, I’d like to share 2 really simple and effective strategies with you. (Skip to the bottom of the post if you’d prefer to watch the video instead)
Strategy #1: Tell Someone About Your Goals
I love this strategy because it’s simple yet very powerful. Something wonderful happens when you tell a close friend or a spouse your goal(s): you become more accountable! When the goal was a private desire in the comfort of your own mind, it’s really nothing more than an idea. But when you share the goal, all of a sudden it’s alive (the scene from Frankenstein comes to mind…he’s alive!!!). Without any extra time or energy, you’ve just flipped a little switch in your mind, and you’re much more likely to stick to your plan, simply because someone else knows about your goal.
Another expansion or progression of this idea is to not only to tell someone else about your goal but to actually share the goal with them, meaning you now have a common goal. Just think about it: how much more likely are you to stick to your plan if you have a partner along the way who’s trying to achieve the same goal? Much more likely!
Here’s a nice example of this goal in action: let’s say one of your goals is to lose weight, and part of your plan is to work out more often. You decide a reasonable part of your plan is that you’re going to go for a jog or work out at the gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Sounds like a good plan! Now, to make yourself more accountable, you tell your best friend the exact details of your plan to reach your weight loss goal. Boom! You’ve just become more accountable and much more likely to stick to your goal.
Now let’s take this example another step farther: after talking to your best friend about your plan, she mentions that she’d also love to lose weight and start exercising more, and you decide that you’re both going to exercise 3 days a week together. What just happened? Not only are you both more accountable, but you also have a built-in support system. So when you get up early some Wednesday morning and really don’t feel like working out, you’re much less likely to let yourself off the hook, because not only will you be letting yourself down, but you’ll be letting your friend down as well. And when your friend doesn’t feel like working out some day, you can be there to help encourage and motivate them. It’s a win-win!
Strategy #2: “If/When, Then” Tactic
This is a new idea that I just ran across about a week ago, and like the first strategy it’s very simple and has tremendous potential. Here’s how it works: with this strategy, you’re going to look into the future at specific times when it will be the most difficult to stick to your plan. Let’s use the weight loss example again. Say part of your plan is to stop eating dessert after you’ve had a nice dinner at a restaurant. And tonight you and your spouse are going out, and you’d love to skip dessert. What you’ll then do is create an alternate ending to your meal that doesn’t involve the sweet treat. It could go something like this: “WHEN the waiter offers us dessert, THEN I’ll ask for a cup of mint tea instead.”
Here’ another example (sticking with the same weight loss/exercise scenario): “IF I wake up and don’t feel like going to the gym, THEN I’ll go for a 3-mile jog instead.” Can you see the potential power of this strategy? Projecting yourself into the future and working out potentially difficult situations ahead of time can help you stick to your plan and ease the stress of being blind-sided by uncomfortable situations.
Personally, one of my ongoing goals is to eat less sugar. While I’m pretty healthy in general and avoid all processed/refined sugars, I’m still very susceptible to eating large quantities of dried fruit.
(That gigantic bag of dried figs from Costco is killing me!)
Lately, I’ve been using both the strategies that I mentioned. First, when I’ve had a rough streak and the sugar cravings are starting to build, I’ll tell me wife something like “I’m not going to eat figs for the next 3 days”, which makes me more accountable and also builds in a little support from her as well.
Then I’ll project into the future: typically, I’ll eat the figs after dinner. And once I start, I really don’t have much control. In other words, if I decide to eat a couple figs, I’m going to end up eating at least 10 (no one’s perfect right!). Using strategy #2, I’ll tell myself “WHEN I’m done with dinner and I get the craving for some figs, THEN I’ll first make sure I ate enough dinner and then make myself some apple cider vinegar and ginger tea”.
Like I said, both of these strategies have been super useful for me. And while they may not work 100% of the time, they greatly improve my chances of success when I have a specific goal in mind, with a well laid out plan.
I hope these strategies help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be.
Best of luck!
As promised, the video version of this post is below:
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