Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Why making firm positive goals and writing them down is so important for achieving them

If, for you (and indeed like many of us), the New Year equals a new start, you will no doubt have returned to work brimming with enthusiasm and keen to set goals for the twelve months ahead.

These goals may be personal or work related – most probably a combination of the two – and the purpose they serve in our lives is to give us a purpose and channel our energy in a way that moves us forwards.

Accomplishing even the smallest of goals can help us feel fulfilled and give us direction. They keep our lives on track and help us on our annual journey of self-development and growth. We’ve identified three steps that will help you make 2017 a productive one.

Step 1: decide exactly what you want to achieve

A study in 2010 - published by the American Psychological Association - found that the key to achieving your goals was to plan out exactly what you wanted to do. The study shows that it doesn’t matter how audacious your goals are, what matters is that you actually pin down what you want to achieve.

The study focussed on people who wanted to change their dental hygiene habits. It found that the people who pinpointed when and where they would floss their teeth did so, and were more successful in changing their dental hygiene habits as a result.

To help you pinpoint your goals, it may be helpful to think about how you will feel when you have achieved your goal? What will have changed in your life? What will be different? How will you know when you have succeeded? By thinking about what will have changed after your goals have been achieved you can then work backwards and identify what you need to do to get there!

Step 2: write your goals down and share them with others

Once you know where you want to get to and what you want to achieve, it’s really important to write your goals down. Research shows that when it comes to goal setting, people often fall into one of two camps – the thinkers and the list makers. Be honest, which camp do you fall into? A psychology professor from the Dominican University conducted a study to establish whether writing down your goals helped you achieve them. The results found that more than three quarters of the people who took the time to write their goals down actually achieved them, this is compared to less than half who did not.

When writing down your goals, take the time to break each one down into manageable steps, making them SMART if you can. SMART goals can relate to personal, as well as professional goals. Put simply it’s about being clear about what you want to do and setting out how you will get there. There’s a simple guide to setting SMART goals here:

Once you have written down your goals, it’s really helpful to plot out your very first step to get you off the starting block. This is often the most difficult step, so once you are comfortable with how you will start on your journey, you are more likely to continue. Think of each of your goals as a to-do list that sits right alongside your daily tasks, such as do the laundry and collect the children from school. This allows you to carve out time in your daily routine to dedicate to your goals.

Review your progress

Once you have set off on your path, remember to build time into your schedule to review your progress. This doesn’t have to be weekly, or monthly, it really depends on your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. What is important, once you have taken the time to articulate your goals, is not to blindly continue on a path without reviewing your progress.

Build time into your schedule to check how much headway you’re making and amend your course of action, as necessary. This is also the time to cross those goals off your list that you have already achieved and take the time to celebrate your achievements.

So, what are you waiting for? Get scribbling those goals down and make 2017 your year of improvement and advancement…

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