Long-term goal setting can be hard to achieve. Here’s a different approach to help you achieve success.
Despite continued research and evidence that setting goals work, I hear many excuses why people don’t set structured goals for themselves or their business - and one of the biggest excuses is “I’m just rubbish at setting goals”.
There are many reasons behind this justification (which I’m not going to go through here) but here’s the thing… if you are using this excuse, then your excuse might not quite be true.
When was the last time you set goals?
… and the answer to the above question is…?
Your most likely response might be “in January as a New Year Resolution” or “Quite a few years ago, but it failed, so I gave up setting goals”. In reality, you are setting goals every day. You just don’t realise it.
Throughout the day, you are setting goals, many of which you achieve regularly. Here are some simple goals and targets you might be setting:
Any, many or all of these sound familiar?
You might have read the above examples and thought to yourself that these aren’t really what you consider goals.
A personal goal might include career progression, or it might be based around when you retire while a business goal might be to reach a sales target over 12-months. That argument is understandable, but they are still daily goals and targets that many of us set every day AND achieve on a daily basis.
So, are you still rubbish at setting goals?
You might try (regularly or from time to time) to set long-term inspirational goals but find it difficult for various reasons. The main problem with long-term goal setting is the way we approach it. We treat it (and act) differently compared to the targets and tasks we automatically set on a daily basis.
Perception also plays a big role. We often perceive long-term goal setting in a way that makes it harder for us to achieve those goals. We see long-term goal setting as a lot of work and something that puts pressure on our daily lives when we already have enough to do.
In reality, effective goal-setting can be the opposite. It can help make our daily lives easier, more productive and more enjoyable.
Based on our ability to achieve smaller daily goals, here are some tips to help you achieve more success with long-term goals that involve changing your approach and perception.
Break down goals
Daily goals are easier because they are broken down. Getting to a set location by a set time is much easier than a goal that says “retire wealthy with x amount in the bank” or “write a book”. Knowing where to start with these bigger goals can be daunting and can create demotivation before you have even started.
Don’t set a goal to run a marathon or to run every day for 30 minutes when you haven’t run at all in the last 2 years. Set a target to do a single run, or to just put your trainers on.
That might sound crazy setting a target to just get your running shoes on, but once you tick the box on this simple task, it’s the starting point that gets you going. You might as well go for that run.
If you are presenting in a networking event (like in the earlier example), you might set various targets without realising it. One target is to create the slides for example, while another target is to turn up to the event on time and so on.
Breaking down goals into bite-size chunks increase the chances that they will be achieved.
Change your language and tell people your plans
Research shows that you are more likely to achieve something that you identify yourself with, or as.
If you tell yourself “I’m rubbish at setting goals”, then you are more likely to fail. If you tell yourself that you are a goal-setter and achiever then you are much more likely to achieve success.
As well as thinking about what you tell yourself, think about what you tell others. Telling people that you are going to achieve or do something means you are more likely to hit your targets.
In the previous examples, you are likely to turn up at the restaurant on time to meet your friends because they will, in one way or another, hold you accountable. They might not put pressure on you, but knowing that your friends are waiting for you will actually make you hold yourself accountable!
If you are presenting at an event then the attendees and the organiser are also holding you accountable.
If you decide to set a target but don’t tell anyone, then you are less likely to focus on it. For more information on using accountability for success, read my previous blog on accountability.
Set goals you want to do, and will enjoy
There is a lot to talk about in this area so if I could summarise, it would be this - if you set goals you want to achieve then you are more motivated, inspired and more likely to work on them.
I’m not saying that if you love chocolate then set a goal that involves eating lots of chocolate (unless you have a really good reason that I can’t think of). I’m saying that you shouldn’t set goals that you really don’t feel motivated to work on.
If you set sales targets for your business, then there are different ways to achieve this - some you might like doing while others that don’t appeal to you. Similarly, there are various ways to achieve a fitness goal. If running isn’t your thing then try regular countryside walks or fitness classes.
Only doing what you want to do isn’t an excuse for not pushing yourself to new limits. It’s important to push the boundaries of your comfort zone but if something really doesn’t appeal to you then chances are, you are unlikely to stay focused on it.
Need help setting long-term goals?
My online course Setting Goals that gets Results uses groundbreaking practices to help you achieve the success you deserve. The course is full of templates and advice for how to set goals and stay on track.
You can find out more by clicking the button below.
The author Darren Hignett has a wealth of experience and knowedge on effective sales and marketing with 7 different books on Amazon as well as experience running a digital marketing business.