Most of us want to make some sort of positive change in our life but often don’t know where to begin. Tips, hacks, advice and suggestions – the web is so inundated with them that it can be totally overwhelming. How to achieve your goals is a popular topic, especially this time of year with New Year’s Resolutions’ season just around the corner.
One place to start is to know how to effectively set your goals in the first place. Makes sense, right? Like everything nowadays you can find plenty of goal-setting advice online. After a lot of investigation we’ve compiled the best five principles to help you define exactly what you want to change and how to make it a reality.
PRINCIPLE 1: FOCUS ON ONLY ONE OR TWO GOALS AT A TIME.
“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” – Seneca
Life can get hectic so it’s no wonder that we multitask in the hope of getting more things done in less time. When we try to multitask however, we are only giving a portion of ourselves to each of our goals. The truth is that even though we do it trying to juggle a whole list of goals actually holds us back from achieving them. In fact, research suggests that multitasking can change the structure of your brain, make you less productive, and even lower your IQ. Maximise your productivity and work/life balance by not tyring to change everything at one.
PRINCIPLE 2: SET DEADLINES.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill
One of the reasons why there is such a high failure rate when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions is because people start off on the wrong foot by setting vague goals that are weak and unachievable. Not setting a completion date for your goal increases the risk that it will be surpassed by other less important everyday tasks. Moreover, it opens the door to procrastination. Don’t disregard the importance of a deadline. Putting a time limit on your goal forces you to prioritise, stay focused and avoid pesky distractions.
PRINCIPLE 3: WRITE IT DOWN.
“The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.” – Gustave Flaubert
Instead of just another well-intentioned thought, writing down your goals can be incredibly powerful as it affirms your intentions by making them real and concrete. Put them down on paper and stick them on the bathroom mirror or set them as your computer wallpaper. By doing so your goal will become something tangible that you can work towards and it will encourage you to do more than simply think about the change you want to make – it will motivate you to take action.
PRINCIPLE 4: RAISE THE STAKES.
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T. S. Eliot
Raising the stakes can be a sure-fire motivator. Research in behavioural science shows that putting money on the line can increase your chances of achieving a goal by up to 72%. Make a bet with a friend or use a website like Promise or Pay and pledge money to a charity if you don’t follow through. Imagine if you promised to run four times a week or pay $500 to charity? That’d get you off the couch! Combining social motivation with charitable giving is a win-win way to help you stick to your commitments and change the world for the common good.
PRINCIPLE 5: SHARE IT WITH OTHERS.
“Sharing is caring.” – Barney
After you have set your goal it’s now time to share it with others. Your goal becomes official when you make it public and creates a sense of accountability and commitment. You don’t have to tell the whole world, but sharing it with another person (a family member, friend or colleague) can increase your chances of success by up to 33%. Not only will it keep you honest by making you answerable to your words and actions, it will also make it easier for others to support and help you along the path towards success.
Making positive changes can be very difficult, but knowing how to set practical, meaningful goals is the first step towards a healthier and happier life. After all, “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement”- Brian Tracy. While there is no ‘one size fits all’ method, these principles are an excellent start and will empower you to take control of your decisions and increase your chances of success in 2015.
This article was written by Jay Boolkin and originally appeared as a guest-post on Eat Beautiful.