There are only two weeks left of the year and I know that, for a lot of us, our thoughts start wandering towards what we want to achieve in the next year. Many people make goals around this time but only a few of them actually achieve what it is that they set out to do. Why is this? If we want something, why aren’t we getting it?
One of the biggest reasons is because most people don’t know how to make effective goals. Effective goals are ones that give you a clear indication as to why you want it, what you need to do to achieve it and how you get it. Effective goals take a bit more planning but without it, your likelihood of achieving them are slim. To create effective goals you need three things: 1) Find your why. In other words, you need to be clear as to why you want your goal, 2) Create goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (S.M.A.R.T.), and 3) A clear blueprint as to how you will carry out the steps necessary to achieve your goal which include clear tasks, time management skills and support.
Find Your Why
The first step into achieving any goal you set out for yourself is to find your “why.” Why do you want this goal? If you don’t know why you want it, you won’t have any actual motivation to achieve it. This “why” needs to be internal, you must find it within yourself and not outside yourself because external motivation rarely ever lasts. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt pressured to do something so you decided to go ahead and do it? Did you actually do it or did it last? Probably not! You need to want it for yourself for it to happen, it’s like Nietzsche said: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” This means that when you know why it is you want something you’re more willing to do whatever it takes to get there. Finding your why gives you the dedication and commitment to carry out the tasks essential to achieving your goals.
A personal example is the final time I decided to get my weight off for good. I had been very overweight for most of my childhood and from being teased by kids in school, the media and my own upbringing, I was taught that being overweight was very undesirable so I always felt that I had to lose it. I tried all sorts of diets from pills to shakes to crazy drinks, I did whatever I could to get the weight off and it never worked! It wasn’t until I took a good look at where my life was headed, that the mixture of my high cholesterol and morbid obesity could one day cause an early death. That I was headed down a path towards health risks, unhappiness and early aging that I snapped out of it and made a change. It didn’t matter how often I was told to lose weight by others, it was only when I found the reason within myself and created a goal based on that realization that I turned my life around. It had nothing to do with my weight and everything to do with taking control of my health so I could have a greater chance of living a longer, happier life.
Whether your goal is to quit smoking, bring your blood sugar/pressure down, decrease your cholesterol levels, pick up an exercise routine or whatever, ask yourself why you want it. Don’t give into external cues, if it has to do with anyone else, keep digging until you find why YOU want it, no one else!
There’s nothing wrong with external motivators, whatever gets you to adopt a happier, healthier lifestyle is fine by me but external motivators tend to only work while you’re on the path to achieving an intrinsic goal. They’re like little boosts of motivation along the way but are typically not enough to last long term.
Find your why and you’ll soon discover the determination, focus and a desire you never knew you had to achieve whatever goal you make for yourself!
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Photo Credit: Lululemon