We know that by mid-January countless New Year’s resolutions will have been abandoned. Why? – What’s not working about how people set goals?
We’ve been banging on for a few years now with our thoughts on goals. Here’s some key principles we return to again and again.
Firstly, don’t forget, goals are a motivational tool, and nothing else. When used well they help build motivation and confidence, plus they just give you a specific focus for your desire to make a change.
Adapt your goals to keep the challenge
If you entered a marathon with a target of 4 hours you’d keep this goal providing all of your training went smoothly to get you in the kind of shape to run that time. If you weren’t able to train for 2 weeks because of an injury, but were still going to be able to race, you’d be sensible to adjust the goal to reflect the compromised training. Most people forget that goals should be adapted as progress happens.
So, if you’re good at setting goals, see if you can be even better at adapting them so that they constantly provide you with a good foundation to build your confidence. Fuel your motivation on the way to the kinds of things you want to achieve.
Goal setting is the end of the beginning
Goals really work at their best when they’re checked in with regularly to learn the lessons about how well things are progressing.
Sharing your goals creates some accountability. Sharing the progress towards the goals creates learning and helps to cement habits in place. Setting a goal, not sharing it and not engaging with it until the finish date of the goal, is simply pointless.
User or loser?
So, don’t fall into the common traps. Don’t set goals and not engage with them again. Don’t set goals and not adapt them to respond to changes. Instead, having set a goal that’s really important to you, behave like achieving the goal is important to you too! That means keep checking in with the goals and how you’re doing. You’ll adapt the goal to reflect better or worse progress than anticipated. As a result, you’ll be able to keep focusing your desire with energy and purpose, and your motivation and confidence should stay in good shape.
As ever, the key message is – use goals and don’t just have them. Alternatively, have them but don’t use them and just become great at setting goals that never make any difference to you.