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  • Writer's pictureSeth Flora

How to Set Goals the Right Way

Setting goals can seem like the most simple and straightforward task in the world; after all, you do it every day. But while they may be simple to set, they’re not always easy to do, especially if you don’t do them right. In fact, how you go about setting your goals can be just as important as actually setting them in the first place. Here are some tips on how to set goals the right way so that they help you succeed rather than hinder you in your endeavors.

Setting The Wrong Goals is a Bad Idea

Goals come in all shapes and sizes, but a goal is just a fancy word for an objective or target that you want to accomplish. The biggest difference between setting goals and having life-goals or objectives is that you want your goals to be realistic so you can actually achieve them. If your goal has no chance of ever coming true, then it's really just another failed objective—or worse, it's setting you up for disappointment and failure. That's why we're going to show you how setting realistic goals—and working hard towards them—is one of the most important ways to achieve success in business and in life.

Why Setting Realistic Goals Is Important

You’ve probably heard about goal-setting before, but it’s also likely that you’ve had no guidance or advice on how to set realistic goals. That is, of course, because there are so many different kinds of goals that it can be hard to figure out what kind yours should be. But don’t worry! It might take a little experimentation and a few minor adjustments, but we can help you set realistic goals for whatever situation you find yourself in. After all, when it comes down to it, setting goals right will make all the difference in your future success.

How To Set Goals The Right Way

Your New Year's Resolution Doesn't Have To Be Perfect, But It Should Be Specific & Measurable...If you don’t know how much it will cost or how you’ll go about achieving your goals, you probably won’t follow through on them. Case in point: a 2012 study by scholars at Harvard and Northeastern University found that people who set specific (and realistic) goals were more likely to reach them than those who just aimed high. For example, a resolution like I want to get in shape isn't specific—but it can be made more so by breaking down exactly what getting in shape means. Say you want to lose weight; does that mean lowering your body fat percentage? Lowering your cholesterol?

Five Ways To Achieve Your Goal

How many times have you set New Year’s resolutions that involved a complete life overhaul? You want to eat healthier, get organized, and lose 20 pounds. That’s awesome! You just might want to break those goals down into smaller chunks that are more realistic. Rather than trying to lose 20 pounds in one month by depriving yourself of food (and potentially losing weight in a way that doesn’t last), how about setting an attainable goal like eating vegetables with every meal? Once you nail that goal, come up with another realistic goal like eating fewer processed foods or avoiding candy at all costs.

(1) Don’t Go Overboard On Things That Aren’t As Important

One of my favorite quotes is from Michael Jordan: I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. It is a great reminder that goals are worthless unless they help you reach your most important goals (i.e., reaching your goal matters more than setting a goal).

(2) Write Down What Matters, Then Break Down The Goal Into Smaller Parts

When you set goals, you want to make sure that they’re realistic (that is, SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-sensitive). But what do realistic goals look like? You need something quantifiable—preferably numbers. That will help you later when it comes time to analyze your progress. For example: 'I'm going to exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week' vs. 'I'm going to go for a run each day.' The first goal is easier to measure—how much time do you actually spend running? How many miles do you cover? What are your times?

(3) Focus On One Goal At A Time

It's important not to spread yourself too thin when it comes to goal setting. The key is to focus on one thing at a time and put your energy and attention into achieving that goal before moving onto another one. If you try to do too much at once, chances are you'll get overwhelmed and let things slip through the cracks as you focus on what's in front of you instead of where you're trying to go. To avoid that, be sure each goal is SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.

(4) Reevaluate And Adjust Throughout The Process

Everyone’s experience will be different, depending on individual needs and circumstances. It might take some time before you find a method that works for you and your goals. In fact, it’s likely you’ll have to tinker with multiple approaches before finding something that fits well enough. Inevitably, though, it will happen – so when it does (and it will), don’t hesitate to adjust your plan as needed. For example, if it turns out that eating healthier foods actually doesn’t impact your weight loss very much, try switching up plans and see if you notice a difference.

(5) Reward Yourself Along The Way For Moving Closer To Your Goal

Like anything else, goal-setting is easier if you have a few rewards along the way for moving closer to your target. Pick out rewards that will help motivate you and keep you on track. Don’t promise yourself things that are too far out of reach—for example, if you want to lose 50 pounds and need to lose 20 pounds first, don’t promise yourself something like a new car or TV; those rewards might seem just as far away as your weight loss goal is! Remember, smaller milestones are still goals worth celebrating!

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