Goals – we have a love-hate relationship with goals. We love them because they are such a great idea and are a superb way to motivate us to achieve and then to evaluate our progress; but we hate them, because for much of the time, they go unattained and simply frustrate us. This isn’t what goals should do!
Having been a Life Coach for many years now I would like to suggest some straightforward and practical techniques on how you can set goals you can achieve! After all, what good is a goal if it isn’t something you can achieve?
• Life Coach tip no 1 – You have to want it!
Firstly – do not bother to set goals for things you don’t really want. For example: if your partner says they want you to quit smoking or lose weight but you do not want to, why even bother setting this as a goal. If your goal(s) are not something you personally want to accomplish, and they are not relevant to you, you are unlikely to succeed – because deep down you don’t really want to.
State your goals in a positive way – a goal should always be something you want to have, or change. Not things you or someone else think you should.
Always ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being totally committed and 1 being zero commitment. How committed are you to reaching your goal? If it is less than 8, you might want to reconsider the goal.
• Life Coach tip no 2 – Focus
Start small. Pick two or three areas that you want to work on. Too many people say to themselves, “I want to do this, and this, and this, and this……” and they end up achieving nothing! Most of what you do throughout your day can be done without a lot of mental effort, but change isn’t one of them. So try to keep your focus down to a couple of things. This way you can get success in your identified areas. Here are some aspects of your life you might like to think about: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual, Financial, and Relationships. Now, which is the first thing on your list? The others can follow later, but for now, you should focus on two or three, no more.
• Life Coach tip no 3 – Goals – the long and the short
So you want to lose 50 pounds? Good. Long-term you will. But for now, think short-term. Don’t think about losing 50 pounds by February. Think about losing 10 pounds by October 1st.
This does two things. First, it makes it pressing and urgent. Instead of saying, “I still have 6 months to lose the 50 pounds” (6 months quickly disappears into 2 months, into one month – with the 50 pounds still securely in place!) your first goal is only a few weeks away, so you have to get started. This is far more successful in terms of reaching your goal. Secondly, as you reach these smaller goals (your mini-milestones!), you achieve a success, which gives you regular motivation and encouragement to keep going.
• Life Coach tip no 4 – Make it manageable
Instead of saying, “I am going to quit my 20 smoking a day habit straight off” change this to: “I am going to smoke no more than 15 a day for a week, then 10 the next week and so on.” Give yourself small victories a little at a time. It is far easier to accomplish many smaller goals that make up a large goal – rather than trying for the large goal straight off!
• Life Coach tip no 5 – Reward yourself along the way
When you lose the 10 pounds by October 1st, go and order yourself large mocha with cream from Costa’s (just the one though!), then get back to your goal for November 1st. This puts a little fun back into the process of self-control and self-discipline. You will look forward to and enjoy the reward and when the going gets tough, you will say things like, “two weeks to go, and only two more pounds to lose” etc – I can do it, then I can enjoy my mocha guilt free!
• Life Coach tip no 6 – Be specific with your timeline
Don’t just say, “I am going to lose 10 pounds.” Say, “I am going to lose 10 pounds by December 1st.” This way, when you start being tempted into Thornton’s Chocolates in the middle of November – under the guise of buying early Christmas presents for other people, you can say, “No way, only 5 more pounds to go in three weeks and I am not going to blow it now.”
• Life Coach tip no 7 – Post it where you can see it
Keep your goal in the front of your mind at all times. Instead of allowing yourself to ‘forget’ that you are trying to lose weight by ordering a big slice of cheesecake, your visual reminder will help you to choose something a little on the lighter side but at the same time keeping on track – having your cake and eating it! This will help you beat your desire and stay focused.
Post your goal anywhere you will see it regularly, like maybe the fridge or a mirror, on your wardrobe door – you know where is best, you must be able to see it regularly throughout the day.
• Life Coach tip no 8 – Encourage, respect, and accountability
Explain to a friend or family member what your goal is, including the timeframe, so they can help you with it.
This person should regularly ask you, how you are doing etc? They should hold you accountable, but at the same time keep you motivated and encouraged. Obviously they must be the encouraging type! (If not, ask someone else who is) If you are blowing it, they can tell you so, but at the same time gee you up and say things like “Well, that’s okay, it’s done now, don’t sweat it, just get back to it tomorrow.” If you are doing well, they can say, “excellent, well done etc” and make you feel great.
• Life Coach tip no 9 – Write (and then reap) the benefits
If you are trying to lose weight your benefits might look something like this: Feel better, better self-esteem, longer life, clothes are more comfortable, a bigger choice of clothes shops to shop it, your husband says you look 25 again and so on. For quitting smoking, it may look like this: Fresher breath, no more brown fingers, less wrinkles on my face, no more red eyes, no more smelly clothes, longer life, and the wife won’t make me spend two hours a day on the back porch in the pouring rain anymore! By making a list you will be able to you see what you will benefit from accomplishing your goal.
Again it is a good idea once you have thought of these benefits to write them down with your goal (On the fridge, mirror etc) so that when you review your goal everyday, you’ll also see the benefits to achieving it.
• Life Coach tip no 10 – You have succeeded – reward yourself!
This can be anything – large or small. If you dropped the fifty pounds, really treat yourself, plan to go out and buy yourself that size 12 dress you have always longed for – and then wear it with pride.
Make a deal with a partner or friend that if you reach your goal they will take you out for a meal or and spoil you.
Whatever it is you plan, make it personal, enjoyable and desirable to you, so you will look forward to it.
Do not miss this part out – it is one of the most important bits. It will help to keep you motivated when you’re struggling and give you something enjoyable to aim for.
Make sure you reward yourself for all your hard work!
Remember folks – goals aren’t just for footballers! They are for us real people too!