Goal setting goes much deeper than just coming up with a few targets and willing them into existence. The psychology behind goal setting—i.e. why you want to achieve a certain goal, how to set attainable goals, and what to do in order to be successful with your goals—is imperative.
Once you understand and apply the mindful techniques that support achieving your objectives, your goals will seemingly manifest. But first, you must understand the simple craft of properly setting goals.
Be clear, actionable, and measurable
The first step in the goal setting process is to define your goals. Start by determining not only what you want to achieve, but how it will be quantified.
For example, if your goal is to grow your online community, then get specific on what that means. What would the metrics to measure progress and success look like? Are there a certain number of posts per week that you’re aiming for to increase engagement?
Setting straightforward milestones means you’ll easily be able to tell how close you are to your goal, so that you’re also able to clearly recognize when the goal has been achieved. This will in turn help you figure out the steps to take to build out your action plan.
If you want to increase engagement by 20%, then maybe that means you spend 20 minutes a day interacting with people that are in your community. Getting clearer with your measurable goals means that your brain has straightforward instructions.
All in the timing
Because your subconscious mind loves following specific directions, that means you’ll be on your way to achieving that goal with more speed and ease. This is also helpful when it comes to tracking your progress. Set check-ins for yourself at regular intervals with calendar targets to ensure you stay on track—and learn how to pivot if your targets aren’t met.
Start by determining the timeframe you want to achieve the goal, and then break that up into smaller chunks of time to monitor your progress along the way.
For example, if you’re aiming to accomplish a goal within a year, then schedule check-ins quarterly. If it’s within three months, perhaps you check in every two weeks. Taking a moment to assess your progress at regular intervals will ensure you stay on track or take steps to refine your plan as needed.
Motivate your brain with “why”
The next essential step to reaching any smart goal is to understand your why. Get crystal clear on why you want to achieve the goal you are setting forth to tackle. What kind of impact will it make on your business if this goal is achieved? How will it affect you if this goal isn’t achieved?
The key here is to get into the feeling of your specific goal. Your emotions are a critical part of how your brain perceives the world. So if you can get into the feeling of success, your brain is more motivated to take actionable steps towards your goal in order to perceive that feeling again.
See it through
A highly effective way of doing this is through visualization. Spend a few minutes taking deep breaths into your belly to help calm your mind. Then, as if you were watching a movie on a big screen, imagine what it will look like when you reach your goal. Get really specific here and appeal to all your senses. What will this look, feel, and sound like? This is most effective if repeated daily, and makes for a powerful part of your morning routine.
Keep it small, keep it consistent
Once you are clear on what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and how it’ll feel once your goals are met, the final step to goal achievement is consistency.
Taking small actions on a regular basis compounds over time, so it’s better to consistently tend to your goal (think: spending 20 minutes a day engaging with your audience) rather than trying to do a lot at once (like spending two hours engaging once a month.)
The power of positive
It’s important not to get discouraged if you stray off track when working to achieve your goal. It’s likely that you’re the only one keeping tabs of your personal goals, especially as they relate to your course or other entrepreneurial endeavors.
This means you have the power to be flexible with yourself in the moments when events may not be unfolding as you originally planned or you may need to pivot certain projects or short term plans. If you find you’re struggling to stay on track with your goals, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect with your “why” and evaluate if there’s any part of your goal that could use tweaking or if you need to revisit your steps to setting a different type of goal for you or your business entirely.
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Pitfalls and the workarounds to beat them
You set too many goals
The fastest way to goal abandonment is by overloading yourself. Set three goals—max five. This way you’re able to focus more energy and attention on these endeavors and monitor them in a more mindful way. Over time, you’ll achieve a lot more than if you’re continually setting (and abandoning) the same ten goals for your business at the start of each year.
You lose touch with your “why”
It’s inevitable that challenges will arise, especially in small businesses. But that’s when it’s the most important to remember why you set your goal in the first place. Revisit a visualization of how it will feel once your goal is achieved. Think about the positive impact it will have on your business.
You don’t really believe your goals are attainable
If you look at your business or career goals and they seem more like a wish list, break some of them down into stepping stones.
Instead of growing 100,000 social media followers by the year’s end, maybe you change it to 10,000 followers. That’s not to say 100,000 followers won’t happen at some point. Rather, 10,000 is still a significant and more attainable goal to get you on your way to that even bigger number. Your goals should feel like they stretch your limits but aren’t impossible.
You’re attached to a certain outcome or timeframe
If you are absolutely set on your goal achievement looking a certain way within a very specific timeframe, rethink. You might actually be sabotaging yourself. When you set a goal to be achieved within a certain amount of time, let’s say a year, you’re more likely to give up if the goal hasn’t come to fruition by year’s end.
Likewise, if you’re too attached to the outcome, your brain is more likely to perceive your endeavor as a failure. If you end up with 9,800 new followers instead of 10,000, celebrate. This is an accomplishment and a win if you allow yourself to see it as one.
Releasing firm expectations from time to time can give you some breathing room to see the goal through until it’s fully accomplished, even if that means taking an extra couple of months.
Begin again—the reality of falling short
The first and most important part to remember is—falling short happens, and it’s OK. Instead of seeing this as failure with a capital F, remain neutral. Observe what went well, what could have gone better, and what changes you can make to set a more attainable goal for your business next time.
In this stage, re-evaluate to see if you’re still passionate about the why behind the certain goal you originally set. Take your discoveries as useful feedback as you re-craft your goal and remain dedicated to seeing it through next time.