Everyone has a dream they’d like to come true. Perhaps it’s the physique you’ve always longed for but could never quite obtain. Perhaps the dream is to earn a living doing that thing that you love. Looking at those who have managed to live their dream, you may wonder what the key to their success is. The difference between having a dream and making that dream come true is how well you are able to set goals.
The Power of Goals
The power of setting goals can alter your life tremendously. A goal is simply your dream written down with a deadline and measured steps on how to get there. It’s really that simple. Keeping your dreams locked intangibly in your thoughts with no road map on how to get there does you no good. It can wreak havoc on your peace of mind and even your self-esteem, making it seem as if what you want is obtainable for others but not yourself.
There is scientific evidence that completing goals cause your brain to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical, giving a sense of satisfaction. Accomplishing goals causes your brain to create new neural pathways, which makes it easy to form positive habits. When you understand and tap into this reaction by completing goal after goal, goal-setting can become the catalyst that changes not only your thoughts but also your life.
Without goals, it’s easy to waste a significant amount of time doing things that, while entertaining, do not bring you closer to realizing your dreams. When you set goals, time management becomes simpler and you see that you’re able to get more accomplished.
When tackling goals, it’s important to start small. While it may be tempting to place a large goal or multiple goals in front of you to begin with, small steps will get you to your desired results faster. Taking on too much without counting the cost may cause you to give up entirely on your goals. This happens frequently with those beginning a new year with lofty goals and no true understanding of what achieving those goals take.
Additionally, if you’re not in the habit of goal setting already, you will need to retrain the way your brain thinks, which is a literal physical process. Start with small steps and as you complete these smaller goals it will become easier to take on more. If the goal is to lose weight, and you have identified the lifestyle changes you’ll need to make to get there, having a long list of goals to accomplish can be overwhelming and incredibly difficult at the start of your journey. This is why Alcoholics Anonymous and its alternatives use a step program to help people get clean. Small, achievable goals build on one another like building blocks. A building doesn’t go up all at once; you must first lay the foundation and add brick by brick. Start with the easiest thing you can do on the list and work your way up.
Make Goals Visible
Once you’ve become specific about the end goal and the steps you’ll need to take to get there, then it’s time to make your goals visible. You can be as simple or as fancy as you’d like, but your goals need to be somewhere you can see them on a daily basis. It’s important to check in and assess where you are in the journey.
When you’re driving to a new location, whether you’re using a map, GPS, or instructions from someone, there is a visible detailed representation of where you need to go and how to get there. You must adopt this same formula when it comes to your dreams. Write out your goals into an actionable plan and keep them in front of you to motivate and inform you.
Don’t Be Vague
In your head, your dream may be a vague concept with the emphasis being more on the result than the process. When you set your goals, try to be specific, intentional and set a deadline. If the goal is to be physically fit, then break down and define what fitness means to you. Is it better cardiovascular health, great muscle tone, a healthy weight, or something else?
Once you’ve identified what the specific goal is, think about the steps you’ll need to take to get there. This is one of the most important parts of goal-setting to achieve success. If you don’t understand the steps you’ll need to take, then you make give up prematurely.
The Power of Reward
Knowing your goals and how to get there is great, but sometimes you need a little push. Depending on your personality, setting up a reward system may be the driving force that helps you complete your goals. Giving yourself a threat or withholding something you enjoy doing until your goal is accomplished is a commonly used tactic in those who are lifelong goal setters.
Part of goal setting is understanding what motivates you to achieve your goals. Your goals can change once you get to the root of what motivates the change in habit. If your motivation is strong enough, rewards and withholding to get goals done may be unnecessary.
Plan for Setbacks
The last thing to consider when using goals to achieve success is the potential setbacks that can occur as you reach towards your goal. Accept that setbacks will occur. It’s just a part of the process. If you approach goal setting with this forethought, you will be less likely to give up when a setback comes your way. It’s helpful to write down all the potential roadblocks to your goal and how you will address them when they arise. This readiness is essential and can give you confidence and peace of mind.
Once you start setting goals and accomplishing them, you will see how monumental goal-setting can be to your life. Start with small steps, make your goals visible, accept that there may be setbacks and plan for them, be specific in your goals and detail your steps to achieve them. Start by setting a small goal today and reach for success.