Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Simple Strategies to Achieve Goals

Achieving goals can be tough. We can overload ourselves with 'things to do' and end up sitting in front of the TV, too exhausted to deal with them. Here are a few things I've realized (and put to use) to help me achieve my goals, whether it's a large life goal, or something small like getting groceries on the way home (more of a task, than a goal really).

We can easily become overwhelmed, which destroys motivation. We need simple, clear plans of what we want or need to do. So to start:

1. Set Realistic Goals

If your goal is to lose 10 pounds in a month, it's not very likely you will achieve it (not that it's impossible, but it's not very likely). This will result in frustration, and eventually dropping the goal all together. Instead, choose something realistic, such as losing 3 pounds. When your goal is more likely to be achieved, you will be more motivated to get there. Smaller successes (the first pound) will feel like larger leaps towards success. If your goal is still to lose 10 pounds, you will be more motivated to continue your second month after seeing the loss in month 1.

2. Have a plan

Don't just say "I'm gonna lose 10 pounds". This is an abstract idea, that you won't be able to achieve as easily as setting up steps towards success. Set simpler, mini goals, to help you achieve these goals, and don't go overboard. The more drastic the change from regular life, or the more difficult the task, the more likely you are to stop it all together. Make it a part of your daily life. For instance:
- I will stop taking cream and sugar in my coffee
- I will do at least 3 serious workouts per week (again, make sure it's achievable)
- I will eat a healthy breakfast every day

3. Write your goals down and put them somewhere you see them often

The fridge is often a good place. You will likely be reminded of your goals every day, a little guilt never hurt motivation ;) I have set my goals into areas of my life such as career, personal development, financial, health, relationships etc. Each of my goals has it's mini sub goals, and I can keep an eye on my progress. Sometimes I can't work on all of my goals at once (usually always the case) so I'll focus on certain areas at different times. Having a timeline also helps, such as 'My 2010 Goals'.

4. Have a Most Important Task (MIT)

This can work for large or small goals. If you have a list of things to accomplish (fix the squeaky door hinge, do laundry, get light bulbs, re-do my budget etc.) choose only ONE thing that is your most important task of the day. In the morning, decide which task you are going to do this day, such as get light bulbs. Sure, the other things still need to get done, but you have been living in the dark for a week and these light bulbs need to be got! No matter what you do or don't do this day, you need to accomplish this task.

5. Do it before you sit down

I find with a lot of tasks or goals, as soon as I sit down and get distracted, or glaze over in front of the computer screen, I lose all motivation for getting back up and doing my task. I usually get the most done right when I get home from work, or right when I get to work (if I have little tasks like internet related things). When I get home from work, before I sit down or turn anything on, I will usually tidy the whole place. All dishes will get done, clothes put away, papers tidied, and then I'll do my workout. If I come in, take of my coat and switch on the TV, immediately the likelihood of those things getting done diminishes. Do it *now*. Same goes for longer term goals. Tell yourself all that matters is right now, and that right now all you have to do is this one thing. Saying "I'll do it tomorrow" will set a bad habit for yourself, and you will accomplish far less.

6. Reward your efforts

Sometimes if I'm feeling lazy, or not motivated to do something, I'll tell myself I can have a reward afterwards. Right now, my reward has been watching an episode of Dexter. If I come home and do my workout before I do anything else, I can watch Dexter that day. It also gives you something to look forward to, and a way to unwind and reward your achievements.

7. Don't rush

Don't quickly get your tasks out of the way by half-assing them. Remember, this is something you want or need. When you do something, do it 100%. It will help you get into the habit of doing things properly, will reduce the chance of you having to go back to it later and fix it up, and you will likely get more results out of it.

These are a few of my methods to keeping motivation up and achieving goals, I hope some of them work for you guys!


  1. I'm gonna get all up in that goal achieving...

    But tonight Biggest Loser, Parenthood and LOST are one... so... yeah...

    My first goal is to get all that watched.