Seven questions to ask yourself when goal-setting

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

We don’t know about you, but we love a bit of organisation in September. Although typically associated with New Year’s resolutions, we like to set our goals as the long summer days slowly wind down and give way to longer nights. We’re feeling refreshed after some well–deserved time off and feeling motivated for the months ahead.

Goal-setting often gets a bit of a bad rep. It’s one of those things that feels fun to begin with but then winds up being a bit of a chore to follow through on. Sound familiar? It’s certainly the case for us. But after doing a little research, we discovered that it’s all about how you approach goal setting that can make the difference.

First and foremost, you’ve got to make your goals attainable, but most importantly, you need to figure out why they’re important for you. Good goal-setting means looking at the big picture, some reflection, and a solid action plan. So grab a pen and a notebook, and let’s get going.

Here are some questions to consider when setting your goals:

What’s your why?

Sounds intense, doesn’t it? But whenever you set goals, you’ve got to consider their purpose to help you stay motivated and on track. 

The exercise here is to understand why you want to achieve that goal. Let’s say you want to get into shape – it’s a bit of a generic statement. Think about why it’s important for you. Perhaps you want to feel healthy and full of energy. Maybe you want to climb to the top of a mountain or complete a certain challenge. Getting into shape is the means of achieving your goal, not the overall goal.  

Having an intention behind your goals will help to motivate you on those days when you feel like giving up, and will help keep the big picture in your mind.

How can you achieve it?

Now that you have an idea of your ‘why’ you can start to put an action plan together. Get specific and go into as much detail as possible.

Let’s take the previous example and consider what you will need to do. Maybe you need to start doing certain exercises, establish a weekly meal plan, or just get a good night’s sleep.

Now break it down further. Schedule time in your calendar for each action that you need to take. Commit a small amount of time each day to work towards your goal. This could be as simple as setting yourself up with a wind-down routine to get to sleep earlier, prepping your meals ahead of time to ensure you eat more healthily, and signing up for an exercise class to help you train.

What blocks have stopped you before?

If you’re anything like us, this isn’t the first time you’ve tried to set yourself goals and like us, you’ve possibly not always stuck to them quite as much as you might want. So, consider what might have got in the way of achieving them in the past. Think about it and write down any blocks you’ve come across, from time restraints to worries to expenses, so you know what issues you may have lying ahead.

What kind of pain do you want?

Sounds a little ominous, doesn’t it? Our research led us to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. In it, he says that the challenge of achieving goals isn’t whether or not you want the result, but whether you’re willing to accept the sacrifices it entails. 

 “The real challenge is not determining if you want the result, but if you are willing to accept the sacrifices required to achieve your goal”.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

He advises refining your goals down to those that you can focus on and achieve with the least amount of resistance.

How to make achieving goals easy

What’s the best way to achieve your goals? Make them as easy as possible. 

  • If you want to go running in the early morning, lay out your clothes the night before.
  • Make it easier for yourself to eat more healthily by setting aside some time and preparing your veggies and portions for the week ahead. 
  • Put your phone on aeroplane mode as you work to avoid distractions.
  • Sign up for a weekly exercise class for accountability.

Think about your goals and write down some ways that make them easy to achieve. Consider habit stacking, i.e. introducing a new habit by adding it to an existing habit. An example of this could be journaling as you drink your morning coffee.

What can you do tomorrow to achieve your goals?

Think about your overall goal and work backwards. What could you do in one month to achieve your goal? What could you do in two weeks to achieve your goal? What could you do next week to achieve your goal? What could you do tomorrow to work towards your goal? 

Think about the habits and practices you can set yourself up with to ensure you reach your goals and then schedule them in your planner. You’re far more likely to stick to your goals if you make a plan for where, when, and how you do them.

How will you feel when you’ve achieved your goals?

The last thing to ask yourself is how will achieving the goal make you feel. Take a moment to think how you’d feel if you’d already achieved it. Write it down and go into details as if it has already happened. Return to this feeling when you’re less motivated.

Lastly, know that every day won’t go to plan. Be kind to yourself. Some days you’ll need a break. Find ways to take some form of action if you can, even if it’s on a smaller scale. Think 10 minutes of yoga rather than an hour, or write something on the page, rather than committing to 1,000 words. As the saying goes, a little goes a long way.

If your goals feel far off, review them and tweak them to make them attainable. Have a check-in every month or every quarter to reflect and look back on your progress.

If you’re finding it difficult to stick to your goals, some accountability can make a difference. Let your friends and family know your goals to keep you accountable or buddy up with someone to share tactics.

As the leaves start to fall, what new daily habits can you weave into your life to help you achieve your goals? Have you decided or is it time to take pen to paper?

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