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14 May 2013
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"In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it" (Robert Heinlein)
TRY THIS EXERCISE if you've struggled to set and stick to goals in the past:
1. What do I want? (Of all of the things that I could accomplish or change in my life, which one is most important to me?)
2. State the goal positively. ‘To be trim and healthy’ is better than ‘not to be overweight any more’. Science has found that the subconscious mind doesn’t process the negative, ‘not to’ – it only hears ‘be overweight’.
3. Write the goal down (goals that are in writing are far more likely to be achieved) and ensure it is something that is within your power to achieve (that is, don’t rely on others to help you achieve it).
4. Ask, ‘if I had this, or if I achieved this, what would it give me?’ (For what purpose do I want it?) Think not only of the obvious and straight-forward gain, but of other benefits stemming from it. Try to build a bigger picture of why this matters to you.
5. How will I know when I’ve achieved it? What will I see that tells me I have reached my goal? What will I hear? What will I feel?
For example, if you are currently a little overweight and your goal is to be trim and healthy, what you will see is yourself in the mirror, looking terrific, wearing your old jeans again comfortably, or a new outfit. You’ll see yourself running around the playground easily with your children and hear them laughing while you chase them. You’ll hear compliments from other people and you’ll feel excited, optimistic and confident… you’ll hear that old self-esteem again in your voice when you walk into a room and you’ll feel energised.
6. Why haven’t I got it now? Exactly what’s been stopping me?
Be honest with yourself here. What’s really been holding you back? What excuses have you been making? Do these obstacles still stand in your way? If so, what can you do about them?
7. Is there a price to pay for achieving my goal? Am I prepared to pay that price?
Again, using the ‘fit and healthy’ example, there IS a price to pay for achieving this goal. You’ll have to eat/drink less of certain favourites, and find time to exercise, which you may not enjoy at first. Being clear on what you’ll be giving up or going through in order to achieve your goal is crucial. You’re far more likely to stick at it if you have analysed and accepted these things in advance.
8. Does this goal sit comfortably with me and with the people around me?
You’re unlikely to achieve a goal if it advertently or inadvertently inconveniences or hurts someone else. Make sure there are no stumbling blocks of this nature.
9. What resources do I have, and what resources do I need to achieve this goal?
What emotional strength do you require? Who do you need to be on your side (speak to them about this)? What information do you need and where will you obtain it?
10. What is the first step towards this goal, no matter how small?
When will I take it?
11. What is the next step/milestone?
12. How committed am I to achieving this, out of ten?
Spend some time imagining yourself at some stage in the future, when you have achieved your goal. Bask in this thought for a while. Tie emotions to it. Understand that there may be moments when you stumble and fall on the way, but that’s okay. Just get up, dust off your knees, and keep going!