Every January, we set New Year resolutions, hoping this year will be different. We convince ourselves, ‘this year I will lose 20 pounds’ or ‘this year I will write that novel.’ However, as the sixth month of the year comes to a close and a new one begins, we are 5 pounds heavier, or are still staring at a blank computer screen with not a single word typed. Only 8% of people achieve the goals they set, and 46% of goal setters have not given up and tried to keep their goals 6 months later; that’s a staggering 54% have either given up or completely failed to action. Upon failure to achieve their goals, many people propose a variety of different reasons for not achieving their goals from poor time management to a lack of self-determination. Is a lack of time or willpower the real reason why people fail to achieve their goals? What are the successful 8% of goals setters doing right? How can you apply the tips from successful goal setters to create an action plan that is compelling, serves your goals and life vision?
Create an Action Plan
One you have gained clarity in relation to what you want out of life, have created a clear vision for your life, and set goals that serve your life’s vision, the next step is to create a plan of action. The secret is to create an action plan that goes beyond goal setting. An action plan allows you to set an emotional meaning behind all of your actionable steps, and, as a result, it creates a strong connection back to the outcome, thus creating an enticing reason to take the actionable steps towards achieving your goals. In my ebook, 100 Facts about Your Brain, I discuss the links and the effects between, emotions which come in the form of hormones, and the impact they have on creating change, like creating a new habit, or in this case, achieving your goals. In short, dopamine and serotonin are two hormones that are released into your brain in response to a variety of different emotions; these two hormones are addictive, and innately your brain will crave more of these hormones. On an extreme level, this is what drives addictive behaviours, and on a physiological level can drive you towards achieving your goals. This deep emotional connection can be channelled into the goal setting arena, and used as the driving force behind achieving your goals when paired with an action plan. When you create an action plan, ask yourself, the following three important questions: How much? By When? For What Purpose? Then write the answers down. The answers to these questions serve as a tangible expression of your target as well as motivational driving force.
What do you want to achieve?
As a part of the life on track series, you set S.M.A.R.T goals and write them down in a journal or notepad. The key to getting clear about what it is you want to achieve is to use action words as opposed to ‘to be’ words. When you use ‘to be’ the goal is a simple intention or wish, however when you use a verb that implies an actionable step the goal becomes more compelling, and serves as a huge motivator.
One of the greatest pitfalls of goal setting is setting too many goals due at a certain time. After reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, I set a list of 100 Goals that I wanted to achieve in my lifetime. I then went through and picked 10 to focus on for that year, and I set a time bound target of 31 December for all 10 goals. I procrastinated until October that same year then panicked because I had not achieved any of the goals that I had set. Don’t set all your goals to be achieved by a single date. It’s crucial to stagnate them throughout the course of a 12month period, carefully consider how long it will actually take to achieve your goals. The key is to set a time bound target that is in your discomfort zone but not in your delusional zone. An example of a poorly set goal would be to write my debut thriller novel by September 30. If this was the first novel that I had ever written a two-month timeline is unrealistic even for a first draft. However, a time bound target one year from now is not unrealistic, it allows time for a first draft, three rounds of editing, as well as submitting my story to beta readers. An unrealistic timeframe will encourage procrastination or discourage you from trying at all.
For What Purpose?
After each goal and its time bound target, write a compelling reason why you want to achieve the goal. The goals you set need to have an emotional resonance because this is the key to setting compelling goals that will challenge you and most importantly are motivating. There comes a point along the journey to achieving your goals when it seems like you are making no progress or when things seem impossible, at this point you need something compelling to see you through this period. This is especially true in setting a goal to launch your own business. A goal with emotional resonance will be a driving force through times that are hard.
Chunk Down Your Goals
Ask yourself, what do I need to do in order to achieve this goal? Create a list of all the steps required to achieve your goals. Break your goal down into manageable tasks with realistic deadlines. Focus upon the first five tasks, if you still feel overwhelmed, only focus on achieving the task ahead of you. The key is to continually chip away at the list of tasks until you achieve your goal.
The number one reason why people who set goals and fail to achieve them is they do not write them down and fail to review them. Psychology professor DR Gail Matthews conducted research on the effectiveness of writing goals down. His research showed that people were 43% more effective in achieving their stated goals by following this principle alone. Reviewing your goals on a daily and weekly basis will also motivate you and keep you on track towards achieving your goals.
Are you committed to making a change? Complete the Action Plan fun sheet by clicking on the icon below to download a copy, designed to help you stay on track.
Have you set any goals this year? If not, it’s never too late to start setting goals for the next 12 months. Go through my Life on Track posting series for tips and secrets to effectively set and achieve your goals.
Photo Credit: Andresr