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Growing up, I really didn’t believe in goals or hard work I mean sure my parents and teachers will say repeatedly that hard work pays off and leads to success but for whatever reason it just never stuck. How do I believe that when there was so much emphasis on good grades = success and I could ace a test or exam with little or no effort except maths that shit was always bringing me down lol. I used to be the guy who would sleep in prep (compulsory night study time in boarding school) then quickly read the morning of the exam and still come first in my class or at least top 3 in secondary/high school. I’m not trying to brag or anything but anyways this strategy doesn’t work for me anymore since when I got into A-levels and basically failed my 3 subjects lol. Anyways, I realised years later that it was childish of me to see life through those lens of just getting by and like Paul said in the Bible "when I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me" (1 Cor 13:11 [NIV]). I still struggle with goals and hard work but everyday gives me an opportunity to adjust my mentality.
INTRODUCTION TO GOAL SETTING SUCCESS
If vision is where you want to go or where you want to see yourself one day, then goals are the means of transport to get there. You can walk, run, fly, use a train or boat, drive etc. to get there. Goals are very important because without a means of transportation you can never get to your destination. There are few things you need for goal setting but I'll only touch on two.
A STRONG WHY?: Imagine your goal is a car and you’re driving it to your vision you’ll need to refuel and do some maintenance work every once in a while especially if it’s a road trip, your why will be like a mechanic who does maintenance work and also refuels your car. If your goal is perhaps long term you’ll need it more because there will be tough times and you might feel like giving up or stopping because your car is faulty or even wrecked so it will need maintenance at a price which you must be willing to pay. If you cannot pay this price then you cannot continue with your goal and you will have to give it up. This price does not have to be money, it can be time, energy and other resources.
Enabling environment: Whether you like it or not your environment will affect you one way or the other. So, for example if your goal is to lose weight so you can get that ‘summer body’ then having an environment where fast or fatty foods are easily accessible is counterproductive. As a beginner you're like a seed, for a seed to grow into a strong and productive tree it needs an enabling environment or favourable conditions (adequate sunlight, good soil nutrients, water etc.). Beginners especially need these favourable conditions or they'll end up like the seeds that fell in-between thorns or rocks in the parable of the sower in the Bible (Matt 13:1-9).When you’re new to the game having strong temptations in your environment don’t help, you don’t start out with the mental strength of Rambo. I know temptations are designed to test your might like a Mortal Kombat video game (if you know, you know, haha) but as a beginner just leave it alone. It will do you more harm than good, I've been there, trying to stop a bad habit by exposing myself to the temptation of it only you fall after a few minutes. In a nutshell, as a novice don't provoke temptation, it's like stepping on a tiger's tail as us Nigerians used to say, it's bound to devour you.
How to Set Your Goals
According to The Mind Tools blog, "to accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. You can't simply say, "I want" and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it". So here are a few tips to help you out with setting and smashing your goals.
1. Set Goals You're Passionate About or Motivated to do: Passion is the grease or oil to your wheel for your vehicle (goals). Without passion, you can move forward for a bit but it's bound to get hotter and harder and eventually you may not get far.
2. Write down your goals: The faintest ink can match the sharpest memory - Chinese Proverb.
Michael Hyatt said that 'most people know intuitively (and research has proved) that those who write their goals down accomplish significantly more than those who do not write their goals'.
Writing down your goals can make it feel more tangible. If you don't write down your goals you're likely to forget or even dismiss them subconsciously; in my opinion it's just better to see your goals written down. You can start with writing to-do lists and placing them where you can easily see and access them so they stay at the fore front of your mind. Jeffrey Hayzlett (VIP contributor at Entrepreneur) says: "I start every day writing down a list of "to-dos," as well as print out a calendar with my meetings for the day. I keep these daily goals visible at all times and cross check the things I’ve accomplished to gauge where I stand at the end of the day. This is a best practice for me, because it makes things tangible and me accountable'. Your own long-term goals don’t have to be spelled out quite as publicly, but you should keep them someplace where, every so often, you are reminded of where you want to go. Use an active voice when writing them down; for example, say, “I will increase my marketing budget.” Using more passive language such as “I would like…” gives you an excuse to get sidetracked)". It's also advisable to use a vision board (subscribe to get our free e-book for more on this) with pictures and minimal but meaningful text as pictures are easier to remember.
3. Review your goals frequently: Michael Hyatt said "writing your goals down is a powerful exercise in itself, the real juice is in reviewing them on a regular basis. This is what turns them into reality. Every time I review my goals, I ask myself, What’s the next step I need to take to move toward this goal. You can review them daily, weekly, or monthly. (I review them weekly.) It’s up to you. The key is to do let them inspire and populate your daily task list".
4. Make an Action Plan: Action speaks louder than words any day, any time. There's the saying that failing to plan is planning to fail and if you don't make a suitable action plan and take action then your goals will stay in your wonderland. According to Mind Tools, "this step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you'll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding, or long-term". Charles Duhigg in his book Power of Habit mentioned an experiment involving old people trying to walk after they've had treatment for illness or accidents that left them temporarily paralysed. In this experiment, they were asked to write down how they will overcome any challenges they face on their usual 'walks' especially when the pain became the sharpest. Those who wrote it down had more success and got back well on their feet compared to those who didn't!
5. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals: S.M.A.R.T= Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.
i. Specific: Goals are no place to be ambiguous or to be vague. Ambiguity or vagueness is the enemy of good results; it's like trying to drive in the dark with a foggy windscreen. Incomplete goals lead to incomplete future.
ii. Measurable: Always set goals that are measurable. Goals you cannot measure are not quite tangible. You should be able to work out how much you need to do in order to make it work. This means you should be able to quantify your goals, how else will you know if you accomplished the goal or not? So, instead of saying I'm going to 'lose weight' or 'get fit' you can say I will lose 20 kg by my upcoming birthday.
iii. Attainable: One of the counterproductive things a lot of people do is setting lofty goals that are unattainable at their current state. In a nutshell don't aim too high, don't shoot for the stars when you're only capable of reaching the moon. When you get to the moon then we can talk about reaching the stars...one step at a time.
iv. Realistic: According to Jim Rohn from Success.com in his article4 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals, "...a goal has to be something that we can reasonably make “real” or a “reality” in our lives. There are some goals that are simply not realistic. You have to be able to say, even if it is a tremendously stretching goal, that yes, indeed, it is entirely realistic—that you could make it. You may even have to say that it will take x, y and z to do it, but if those happen, then it can be done. This is in no way to say it shouldn’t be a big goal, but it must be realistic". Don't go around making goals about flying to the sun and back, ain't no way that's happening.
v. Time: Every goal should have a time-frame attached to it. One of the most important aspects of a great goal(s) is that it has to end. Goals without deadlines are just glorified wishes. The beauty of deadlines is that they add pressure. For example, when you're first given a coursework or project at school or work you might be a bit reluctant to start especially when you have a lot of time to do it but as soon as the deadline is fast approaching everyone turns into a ninja and gets it done. You should work on your big goals diligently as time goes on and even break them into smaller connecting goals with their own deadlines (see 12 Tips to Boost Self-confidence and Self-esteem). A S.M.A.R.T. goal has a timeline.
6. Accountability: To push through when things get tough, you have to hold yourself accountable unless you bring in outside help like a coach who provides it for you. Accountability helps you keep in check like the several arms in government in a democracy. The person who will keep you accountable whom I shall call your 'accountant' should be able to provide you valuable feedback at critical junctures, it could be a family member, friend or mentor. You should choose someone who will not be too lenient with you or that defeats the purpose (see 8 Practical Solutions to Procrastination).
QOTD: "If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things" - Albert Einstein.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR GOAL SETTING
1. Before Happiness: The 5 Hidden Keys to Achieving Success, Spreading Happiness, and Sustaining Positive Change by Shawn Achor.
2. Succeed: How to Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson.
3. Motivation in 7 Simple Steps: Get Excited, Stay Motivated, Achieve Any Goal and Create an Incredible Lifestyle by Marta Tuchowska.
4. Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny! by Tony Robbins.
5. Personal Development for Beginners: Book 1 - 3 by Eddie de Jong.
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Jeweller on Mondays, Book Connoisseur on Wednesdays, Quotologist on Fridays (ahh I'm still working on that one lol) and Blogger everyday! My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!