Goals make life exciting. But they also have the ability to make life excruciatingly difficult. They can act as a reminder of where you are not compared to where you are.
A really important life skill is the ability to set goals and have a system for actually achieving them. Because a goal without a plan is just a dream. Today, I want to focus on the most important, not-often-talked-about elements of setting goals in a way that will help ensure you can actually achieve them.
With that being said, one of the most important aspects of goal setting is envisioning the reason behind the goal.
The why. Without knowing the reason behind why you're trying to do something, it doesn't matter how you're going to do it. The reason why is the thing that you will reference every time you want to give up. Because wanting to give up while on the road to trying to achieve your goal is normal. It's actually abnormal to not have a moment of wanting to give up.
Striving towards one's goal(s) is really hard. It's not easy. It's not meant to be easy. The hardship that you go through on your path to actually achieving your goals is what helps build your character. It helps prepare you for future challenges. It's in the hardship that you end up learning the special life lessons that you will carry with you for a lifetime.
And this is why you need to have a very clear understanding of your why. Because without a very specific and personal reason for why you're trying to do something, when the going gets tough, you will find a reason to stop. Wanting to achieve the goal that you've set will never be enough when temptation comes and tries to steer you off course.
Don't be generic with your reason why either. Be as specific as you possibly can because specificity helps you really build a connection with your goal. If you want to start a YouTube channel, be really specific and honest about why you want to start your channel. If you want to start because you want it to become your full-time career - be honest with yourself about it.
Too many times, when we talk to ourselves, we aren't honest with ourselves. We bleach our answers to reflect societal norms and best practices. But you don't have to do this when setting your goals. You actually should avoid it at all costs. Who cares if the real reason you want to become a singer is because you want to be famous? If that's the real reason behind why you'll wake up for dance lessons at 5am every Saturday then so be it! Just be honest with yourself so when the going gets tough, you'll know the real reason that will keep you going (not the socially acceptable answer that will just keep you stagnant).
You need to begin with the end in mind.
What I mean is start imaging what the completion of your goal will look like and work backward. Let's take for example the goal of learning how to bake a 3 layer cake with fondant by your mother's 60th birthday (which is in 6 months). Starting with the end in mind means you'll take the final goal of making a 3 layer cake with fondant and break it down into the steps necessary to not only be able to make the cake but to be able to do within the required timeframe. I find a lot of times when people make their goals, they begin with the first step and work progressively toward where it is that they want to be. I find working backward, ensures that I don't miss any smaller but important steps needed to get to the end goal.
A lot of times, we can get bogged down by focusing on the micro steps required to get to our goals - often losing sight of the goal itself. If you keep the goal your trying to get to as the center of your thinking, not only will you feel better, you will increase the likelihood of you actually achieving your goals.
Get or create a visual representation of what meeting your goal will mean.
It's important to be able to see what meeting and achieving your goal will mean to you. Maybe you need to make a vision board, maybe you need to go to a car dealership and look at and test drive the next car you'd like to buy. But being able to see, touch and or feel what you're working towards is often the boost you need when the going gets tough. Because it will get tough. You will wonder why you're even wasting your time. You will feel like you won't get to where you want to go. You will feel like it would just be easier to stop right now and use your time for 'better' things. Don't do that. Having visual representation that you can reference helps to keep the goal 'tactile' and within reach. Something that I sometimes do I print out a picture of what it is that I'm working toward in various sizes. One large one for an area that I pass by frequently (a mirror, my closet etc), and then another, smaller one to carry around in my wallet or handbag. It's nice to have the constant reminder of why I'm making certain sacrifices. I know it helps keep me from making certain decisions that are detrimental to wherever it is that I'm trying to get to. Often times, without these reminders, it's much easier for me to throw caution to the wayside and give up on making progressive steps towards my goals.
Lastly, you need to shift your mindset.
You see, getting to where you've always wanted to be requires sacrifice. It requires you to change what it is that you are currently doing and that's really hard. It's not easy living your life in one way and working against the momentum so you can do something completely or even slightly different. Think of how long it takes a train to stop. It's not something that can be done on a whim. It takes planning. It takes patience and it requires being intentional. That's how you have to see you and setting your goals so you can actually achieve them. It's one thing to say you want something, it's something completely different to actually go out and do the things necessary to get there.
So figure out the real reason why you want to achieve something, begin with the end in mind, get a visual representation of where you want your goals to take you and become comfortable with the change and sacrifice required to become the person who has the things you want.
Because the life you want to live is on the other side of your comfort zone.