How To Set Goals And Stick To Them

It’s so easy to say you’re going to do something, whether it be learn a new language, write a book or take part in a sporting event, however things can often be easier said than done. I’m probably the worlds worst for being all or nothing, so I’ve just got work on that little bit extra of sticking something out. I’ve done some practicing and experimenting and I think I’ve come up with a pretty decent list of ways to stick to goals! I also figured considering today marks one year since I started blogging (eek!) it feels like I should pay tribute to this being one of the first major goals I’ve ever stuck with!

Obviously, first you have to set some goals. This is kind of self-explanatory as it is the first part of the blog post title. I feel this is particularly relevant as January is the time for New Year Resolutions! It is so easy to say you’re going to do something, so it’s about setting realistic yet challenging goals. You shouldn’t set a goal of running a marathon in 6 months if you’ve never run to the end of your road. You need to aim for things you know you could achieve, that way the process won’t be disheartening and it will be so much easier to keep going. Set a realistic timescale for the goal and your own ability and things will be so much more simple!

When setting a goal think about the things you want to achieve. For example, I’ve set myself a goal of learning German. Of course I will not be fluent in a month or even a year, learning a language takes time. I use an online language programme and so far I have completed three units in level one out of four and this has taken me three months of irregular activity. I say irregular because I’m having to fit it around my university life and deadlines so some weeks I’ve had time for more practice. Now there are 5 levels all with their own individual units. Therefore, realistically it’s going to be a few years before I complete the programme if I continue at my current pace. There are a few ways in which I can make myself stick to this goal, as listed below.

Create smaller goals

Rather than saying I will complete level 5 in 2 years, which seems rather scary and unachievable, I should say I will complete level 1 in 5 months, which means I have 2 months left to complete it. This seems completely achievable as I am already over half way to this goal. The chances are I am very likely to achieve this and it keeps me motivated to carry on, and even beat my target!

Set incentives

This could be anything, like absolutely anything. It’s an incentive that you want to work towards after all! One key thing to think of is whether the incentive matches the challenge. It’s hardly worth saying you’ll go on a weeks holiday if you complete Level One of a language course, whereas a shopping spree after completing a marathon seems more reasonable! For this target I could set an incentive of a new lipstick or something. Keep the incentives in perspective, but don’t forget to reward yourself for sticking to something!

Make a done list

I’ve read about done lists, and I’m sure everyone has heard of a to-do list. Basically, a done list is a list made up of things you have already achieved. I don’t know about you, but I find nothing more satisfying than crossing off a completed task from a to-do list, so imagine the satisfaction when you get to create a massive long list of things you have achieved! A done list can make those days where you feel so unproductive turn around. For example, when I was writing a recent essay for my degree, rather than thinking I have 1500 words left to write…that’s so many  I would think, Wow I’ve already written 1000 words! Just that slight change in perspective is all the attitude shift you could need to keep going. So write a list when you’ve completed something so that when things seem all too much you can see how far you’ve already come!

Accountability

This is such a key one for those people that really struggle to self-motivate and self-discipline. When you have someone else counting on you, you’re more likely to do a task than if it’s just yourself. This is because no one likes disappointing other people, whereas if it’s just you you’ve only got yourself to blame. It’s the prime example of why gym buddies work so well! When you really can’t be bothered to go to a spinning class you’re much more likely to go if you promised you’d meet your friend there and you’d go together! Do the same with simple goals; find a friend to start a language course with or both agree to do a certain activity at a certain time. You’re so much more likely to stick to it rather than to flake!

Give yourself a deadline

Same with setting a timeline, you want to have a deadline. If you give yourself forever to achieve a goal, guess when it will be achieved? NEVER. There’s no urgency or desire to finish (or even start) as there’s no end in sight. A prime example of this are the essays I have to write for my degree; if we were all told at the start of the year we had as long as we liked to write our essays, we could hand them in anytime in our life we wanted, I can assure you that no-one would hand it in within 4 weeks. We would take our time ensuring its perfect, if we had a social we would go to that rather than write the essay because what’s the rush? However, because they do give us a deadline of 4 weeks, guess what? I write it in time. Simple as. By setting a deadline you create that sense of urgency and ambition needed to carry you through!

Now always remember to be kind to yourself with your goals and expectations. No-one is expecting them of you. Just set the parameters of your goal on your own terms and it will be so much easier to stick to. Try to be ambitious and break out of your comfort zone, but never go too far, remember it’s okay to take baby steps!

Ox

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