How often do you set goals for yourself and find that overtime, you haven't really achieved much? You create such elaborate plans to achieve your goals with detailed steps and possibly colorful markers and vision board cut-outs. And in the beginning, it genuinely feels like you might just achieve your goal this time around.
However, as time goes on and you reflect on the progress that you've made, you realize that the fire that was inside you when you initially set your goals actually burned out 3 days in to working towards your goals. Life gets in the way or worse you lose interest altogether.
Goal setting doesn't have to be this way. There are actually ways to go about achieving your goals without throwing in the towel. Below I'll share 4 ways in which I personally go about setting goals and following through with them.
Keep Your Goals Realistic
What could be consider 'realistic' is relative to the individual. Some goals can be easier for some individuals to obtain than others purely due to a variety of factors. When you decide to set a goal for yourself, it's important that you sit down and reflect on your own personal life. Don't spend time considering what has and hasn't worked for others. We all live significantly different lives with varying privileges.
Is your goal something that could be considered realistic to achieve given where you are in your life? For years in undergrad, I wanted nothing more than to be a competitive body builder. I knew that I had the drive but what I was lacking was the time and financial resources. I held 3 jobs in undergrad while maintaining a full-time course load and active participation in various organizations. There was literally no time for me to commit to becoming a body builder. Not to mention, I was living on a college student's budget. Body building is an expensive sport and requires consistency to achieve results. My goal wasn't realistic for where I was in my life.
Once I graduated, I began working a full-time job and had no other extracurricular commitments. I was finally in a place where I could actually dedicate myself to bodybuilding. I revisited my goal to become a competitive body builder and within a few short months I was on stage competing at my first competition. I even won first place!
When you set a goal for yourself, it might not be the proper time to work towards executing the necessary steps to achieve your goal. It could very well be worth planning to work towards your goal at a later time. In any case, consider whether or not you're setting a goal that's realistic given your current lifestyle.
Consider the Prerequisites
When I decided to move from DC to California, I knew that I had to have a plan in place. It wasn't realistic for me to just pack my things and show up in LA with my suitcases. Although that does work for some individuals, that approach was not conducive to my life.
I had to set a plan in motion. Moving to California required a variety of tasks to be completed and accounted for prior to purchasing a one-way ticket to LAX. I knew that I needed a job, somewhere to live, transportation, a way to relocate my furniture across the country, relocation funds and a true retrospection as to whether or not relocating was something that I truly wanted to do. All of those tasks that I mentioned were prerequisites that needed to be met before moving to California. Without completing all of the tasks, there would be no way that I could comfortably move across the country.
Consider a goal that you're hoping to achieve. Are there tasks that must be completed in which your goal depends on for achievement? Just about every goal that you set in life will require some smaller tasks that must be completed in order to achieve your desired outcome. Think about those tasks and work towards completing them first. It's sometime the micro-elements of goal which can truly make or break whether or not you can achieve a goal that you set for yourself.
Prioritize Your Goals
If you're ambitious like me, you often find yourself setting a lot of goals. You have amazing ideas which come to mind often and you consistently decide to add those ideas to your 'goals I want to achieve bank'. And before you know it, you have more goals to achieve this month than you could properly handle. This is where prioritizing your goals will come in handy.
Everything that we want to do in life is important. However, some goals can be more important than others just given where you are in life. When I decided to relearn and fill in the gaps for becoming a Python developer, I had created an entire curriculum of courses for me to take that would help strengthen my knowledge and preparedness to one-day interview for a Developer Advocate role. However, I knew that I couldn’t just relearn everything at once. I had to look at what I was working towards and place the concepts I wanted to master into a sequential order that would work best for what I was hoping to achieve.
Rather than hop all over the place and learn out of order, I found that prioritizing learning certain concepts over others was very powerful. There was no reason to start off with Python and then visit the Command Line later because you need to use the command line to execute your code. I truly saved myself from working backwards.
Look at goals and figure out what order makes the most sense for you to work towards achieving your goals. Does the order make sense? Are you choosing to buy new furniture before even purchasing a home to place said furniture? As the phrase goes 'Make it make sense'.
Always Remember Your Why
Why did you decide to make something a goal? This should be the one thing that keeps you going when you feel yourself feeling defeated. Your 'why' is what encourages you to work towards your goal in the first place. It's safe to say that overtime, our priorities and/or circumstances change. However, if you've set a goal for yourself that makes a significant positive impact on your life, it may very well be worth staying true towards achieving that goal and remembering why you set the goal in the first place.
I'm a firm believer that we all have the capability to achieve any goal that we set for ourselves. However, you can't expect someone else to do the work for you. Rather, you have to commit to working towards achieving your goals and following through even when the going gets tough. And trust me, coming out on the other side is always such an rewarding experience.