Making it Stick – 3 Things I’ve Learned about Goals

When it comes to setting goals (or intentions or resolutions), I am gung-ho to start. I am an eager beaver. I am full steam ahead. I throw myself head first into it. Then something happens and I lose steam. I start procrastinating. I make excuses. I stop reaching for the goal. I let fear and doubt creep in and I’m derailed. Ugh, total failure.

Okay, I know I’m not a total failure. I’m being a bit dramatic here to make a point about setting goals.  You might be familiar with SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) goals or BHAG’s (big hairy audacious goals, to which I must say that there is no goal I want to be hairy – just reminds me of gigantic creepy crawlies).

SMART goals and BHAG’s (and many others) are a good framework and provide a solid guideline to setting goals. And I’ve learned that hard way, through amazing failure and a few fantastic successes, that there are some critical elements when setting (and ultimately achieving) a goal.

Three things I’ve learned about setting goals:

Heart, baby – Goals need to have some spark and fire for me. It needs to meaningful and ultimately tied to how I want to feel when I achieve the goal. It’s the big WHY. The big-kahuna of purpose. Without this, it’s dead in the water. How do I know it has heart? I ask myself: Am I excited about the goal or even about the steps it will take to achieve? Does it fill up my cup? Is the goal aligned to me, my values, what’s most important to me?

Simply achievable – It has to be manageable given everything else going on in life cuz life is busy. I have the best success when I can break it down into the minutia. The simplest steps with the most realistic of timelines. And then I take one simple step at a time. Pace will be different for everyone. In order for me to achieve, I need to be realistic about what I can actually do. It has occurred to me that when I break the steps into micro-steps, I do not get overwhelmed and I build my confidence in achieving the goal.

Little wins – I’m human. I need some instant gratification and to know I’m doing a good job along the way so there needs to be some milestones or little celebrations along the way. After all, it’s about the journey as much as it is the destination. When I was building my coaching business, I still remember when I got my business number. It was a great day, I was able to stop and say Wow…I’m legit! And take a moment to sit in this little success.

“If you want to accomplish the goals of your life, you have to begin with the spirit.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

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