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How to Set Goals and Actually Achieve Them
It’s all well and good saying you want to achieve something, but following through is the hardest part. However big your ambitions may be, one of the most effective ways of getting there is setting clear goals. In this guide, we’ll walk you through our top 5 ways to set goals and achieve them…
1. Set time-sensitive goals
When you set out to achieve something, it’s important to know when you want (and expect) to have achieved it by. Whether it’s the end of the week, in 6 months, or in 2 years, you must always put a timeline with each goal to give you a realistic chance.
You can then group your goals into micro, short term, and long term categories. Here are some examples of common goals and their timelines:
Micro goals (in the next few days)
- Tidy your room
- De-clutter and organise your work station
- Do that thing you’ve been putting off
- Get a personal best in a run or workout
- Ask your manager for feedback
Short term goals (in the next 6 months)
- Network more
- Stop procrastinating and improve productivity
- Learn a skillset from a colleague / mentor
- Increase the number of days you exercise per week
Long term goals (6 – 12 months)
- Get a promotion
- Become a subject matter expert
- Get an additional qualification or certificate
- Win an internal recognition award
Long term goals can then be broken down into micro or short term goals to make them more achievable! Another way to reach your longer term goals will be to establish good habits, which leads us on to our next tip…
2. Identify the difference between goals and habits
When thinking about micro or daily goals, you may find yourself actually thinking about developing good habits.
A goal is something that you work towards and achieve, such as running a marathon, or writing a book. Whereas a habit is a repeated learned behaviour that becomes routine. ‘Drink more water’, ‘get up on your first alarm’, and ‘take the stairs’ might seem like good personal goals to set yourself, but really they are good habits you want to develop.
This is an important differentiation when setting your goals, as habits require a different process to achieve. Habits and goals are both important, and often achieving one can help you achieve another. For example, if you have a weight loss goal, developing a habit of healthy eating or exercising will be a good place to start. Equally, you may set yourself a goal of making something a habit, such as ‘In three months’ time, I will be in the routine of stretching as soon as I wake up’.
Want tips on developing good habits? This gives some great insight.
3. Make a mentor accountable
If you don’t share your goals with anyone, life will find excuses and you’ll most likely drop them, as no one will know. Sharing them with someone is proven to change that dramatically.
In fact, research has found that you’re 70% more likely to achieve a goal if you’ve shared it with a mentor first. (Source)
At Guider, we’re familiar with the importance of mentorship. Having a mentor can increase confidence, self-assuredness, motivation, aspiration, communication skills and more. But it’s important you know why you want a mentor, and what you’re hoping to have gained or achieved from the relationship. When you become a mentee on Guider, you’re able to set goals and timelines for those goals. Your mentor will automatically be able to see this so they can hold you accountable, increasing the chance of achieving your goals.
If you don’t work in a large company that has an internal mentoring scheme, it can be hard to gain access to mentorship. Mentoring marketplaces help connect you with mentors to support with goal setting and business advice.
There are plenty of people out their with the skills to support you in your development – you sometimes just need a platform to help you find them.
Need inspiration? Read our 10 personal and career development goals
4. Always visible, always in writing, always well phrased
In order to regularly review your goals, they must be written down. The act of writing out goals also helps you formulate them into something tangible. Don’t just take our word for it, research has shown that goals are 40% more likely to be achieved if they are written down. (Source)
If you don’t write your goals down, life will get in the way and new circumstances could change your goal perception. While it’s important to be flexible, you don’t want your priorities to shift to the point you forget how important a goal once was to you.
Don’t forget the importance of the language we use, even to ourselves! It’s crucial to phrase your goals correctly, being specific and assured. For example:
- Don’t write ‘I will do more do more exercise’, but write: ‘I will increase my weekly exercise by 2 sessions a week with a minimum of 30 mins a session’.
- Don’t write, ‘Learn more skills’, but write, ‘I will find a mentor in another department and learn a skill that they hold and then master it for myself’.
Tip: Use language like ‘I will’ instead of ‘I would like’
5. Set goals that motivate you and align with your purpose
People often set generic goals because that’s the easier thing to do. But we’re all different, with different personalities and motivations, so it’s best to set goals that are highly specific to you.
If you’re finding the goals you’re setting just not sitting right with you, they’re most likely not right for you.
The point here is that you will much more likely succeed if you set a goal that aligns with your personality, interests and belief systems.
At the end of the day, setting and achieving goals is meant to be fun and rewarding, so do something you actually want to do, not something you just feel you should do.
Finally – stick with it!
Setting and achieving goals is not just about the result, it’s all about the journey. If you stick with it, you can create a life whereby your goals (and good habits) are ingrained into your daily activities.