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5 Tips for Setting Goals That Stick

Last rays of light in Central Oregon. 2014.
Last rays of light in Central Oregon. 2014.

I’ve heard the statistic thrown around that 80% of people never bother to set goals, and of the 20% that do, 70% fail. So we are talking about 20% goal setters with a 30% success rate. This means that only about 6% of the population proactively directs their life to keep it moving it in a positive direction. That is less than 1 in 15 people! What terrible odds. The rest rely on chance, fate or momentum.

It doesn’t need to be this way. There are proven techniques that can greatly improve the odds that whatever goal you set can be achieved. If you aren’t setting goals, well, that one is tougher to deal with since it requires intrinsic motivation. You can try watching some motivational videos on Youtube, like this one, or check out one of Tony Robbins programs. If that doesn’t do it, well…why are you reading this blog anyway? 🙂

I’ve found that for the goals setters among us, there are five key things you can focus on to supercharge your goals and help you see them through. I use these techniques in my own life, and want to share them with you before the new year to help you avoid being one of the 94% of people that keep things going in status quo fashion.

1. The “WHY” matters more than the “HOW”

Don’t let your brain nix potentially fulfilling goals because you don’t know how they will be accomplished. Ultimately, none of us have complete control over how anything in this world works, so don’t try to make guesses. Let’s take the example of an aspiring marathoner. Let’s say that you have a goal to run your first marathon, but have never run over a mile in your life. Setting a goal to finish a marathon does not and should require that you have all the steps figured out between now and the day of your race. What matters, is that the reason (the “WHY”) is incredibly strong. With compelling reasons, you (and the universe at large) will find a way!

What do you want to achieve? Why is it important to you? Ponder this question for a while (at least 10 minutes). Write down your answer.

2. Make powerful goals

Don’t set weak goals! Weak goals are doomed to failure. Back to the marathon runner example….let’s say you really want to do a marathon…but since that seems like too far, you comprise, and instead say you are going to run 2 miles some day on the roads near your house nonstop (your previous best was 1 mile). Is that enough to keep you motivated? Will it get you up early on the weekends with excitement to go train? Is it something you would be proud of accomplishing? Whatever your goal is, it’s OK to dream big….it’s these big dreams that get us excited. For me, I have a goal of running 100 miles in a single day within the next 2 years. It is a big goal (one that most people find shocking), but it sure is a powerful one that keeps me motivated.

Is your goal compelling enough to excite you? How could you make it even more exciting?

3. Be specific

Ambiguity is a fact of life, but it is also a source of incredible fear. Uncertainty can paralyze you before you even start. The more specific you can be in shaping your goals, the better chance you have of achieving them. Being specific helps your brain realize that the goal is not just a dream, but a real and tangible thing. For example, instead of saying “I want to make more money next year than last year”….get specific. Figure out exactly how much you want, down to the penny. Don’t worry about how this will happen, or whether the number is too big. Just get specific. A few years ago, I set a financial goal for monthly income. I wrote a check (made out to myself) and posted it on my vision board. It was made out for a very specific amount of money I expected to bring into my life on a monthly basis within the next year. While I did not reach this goal within a single year…I greatly surpassed it within 2 years! I’ll take that as success!

How specific is your goal? How could you make it even more real, tangible and specific?

4. Use peer pressure to your advantage

Humans are social animals, and much of our behavior is driven to both serve, lead and gain acceptance from our peer group. Use this fact to your advantage. Don’t be shy about your goals. Keeping them secret helps no-one. Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell your co-workers. It shows that you are someone who is motivated and could help inspire others to start setting some more compelling goals themselves. People are far more likely to follow-through on a goal when they have other people keeping them accountable. You also never know who in your peer group might have some insights that could help you achieve whatever it is you are after (physically, financially, etc.).

Who are you accountable to regarding your goal? Is this person (or people) supportive of your achieving the goal? Who else could you recruit to keep you accountable?

5. Reference them daily

Put your goals in a place that is highly visible. Ideally, you should reference them on a daily basis. Put them on a sheet of paper next to your bathroom mirror. Put them on a poster and hang them in your bedroom (or even better, living room). Out of sight means out of mind. Keep them in a place where you are forced to look at them. Reading them is best, but just glancing at them will jog your memory and get your sub-conscious engaged to help you achieve what you want.

What reminders do you have in place that keep your goal top of mind?

So there you have it, a few quick tips to help make 2015 the best year ever!

Call for comments:

  • Do you set goals?
  • What have you done to increase your chances of actually achieving your goals?

One comment

  1. Srinath says:

    That is one powerful note and I was made to wonder whether the so called successful people are from that minuscule minority 6% . Possible,as the world would have been a heaven if it was other way!

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