When we’re starting out, it’s tempting to treat goal-setting as an all or nothing mindset, where aiming to excel, establish a great reputation and be recognised as successful are the daily focuses of our lives.
Over time we may come to realise that big goals are in many ways like onions, with multi-layers contributing to the finished product, each needing to be nurtured and developed.
It’s important to make time for them to grow and be recognised as separate components, with the layers eventually coming together to make the ultimate result.
We maybe set aside time to promote ourselves on social media, update our accounts, complete our journal, do some yoga practice, go online for a special class, but it’s only when our goals are absorbed into our way of life and become second-nature, a habit, that they become an automatic part of our functioning, pulling together to make a well-rounded quality of life.
By making your goals a habit you’re living each day to the full, enjoying what you’re doing and are less distracted by how much it advances your route to success. You simply keep going, working with your master plan towards the big picture, whilst incorporating positive practices into your daily life.
You may have identified stepping-stones, actions and decisions that need to be taken every day to achieve your goal. For example, progressing your business growth may require a specific number of contacts to be made on a regular basis, losing weight may include daily choices about exercise and what to eat, running a marathon may mean covering a certain distance each week. Doing something big or small that becomes a part of your regular mindset and commitment.
Even on relatively inactive days or those times when other things take precedence it’s important to make some acknowledgement of your ultimate focus. That way, your actions gradually become a habit. Remind yourself of your goals by having them in plain sight on a vision board, on your screen saver or by writing them in the front of your journal or diary, so that you connect with them regularly, either consciously or unconsciously. Ensure that they’re always with you.
You may have high-lighted specific big goals as the focus for your efforts, but habits come about through being a reasonably comfortable, regular commitment, rather than being so big that you risk becoming overwhelmed or required to park other areas of your life. Doing something that’s straightforward and relatively easy to include has a greater chance of becoming a habit and subsequently resulting in success.
That’s why it’s best to break big goals down into smaller segments, bite-sized chunks that don’t need too much thought or can be arranged in advance. Otherwise, on busy, stressful days all your good intentions risk being cast to one side, as you default to easier, more familiar habit patterns, or reject them as you deal with pressing matters that require all your attention.
Positive New Habits
Some people find that making lists is a positive way to introduce a new habit, breaking down a larger goal into achievable actions each day. Setting a timer can help you manage how long to spend on each task, so ensuring there’s real focus on the task in hand, whilst also avoiding becoming too absorbed for too long on a single piece of work.
It’s good to cultivate the habit of achieving something, however small, each day. That mindset is proactive, motivational and encourages you to intermittently review your plans, raise the bar and move them forwards. Even a quick phone call or email can be enough to make progress.
When that outlook has become a habit, there’s an enthusiastic approach to what can be achieved each day; something small on busy days, taking larger steps when there’s the time and energy available.
Accountability is often important, having someone to regularly check-in with, who wants to know what you’ve done, where you’re up to, what the likely outcome could be. Scheduling an appointment when you have to explain yourself is incredibly motivational; something that’s only too evident on the days before a slimmer’s class has a weigh-in!
But a coach or mentor can also help iron out any issues, steer or guide you as to available options, help you re-focus after a set-back. Someone who’s on your side, who’s with you during your struggles, who understands what you’re going through can make a massive difference to your motivation levels.
Making your goals a habit is an important contributor to your success, but don’t allow yourself to be too tied down by them. Allow yourself to enjoy the journey and maybe even appreciate occasional detours along the way. After all, once you reach your destination you may be at a loss as to what to do next or simply be inspired to start again and set some new goals.
Sometimes it’s exciting not to be too rigid about chasing your initial goals. It can be satisfying to enjoy exploring new opportunities and follow where they lead. Unexpected adventures can be a reward in themselves. Take time to value each experience that presents itself as you progress. Then, your goal-motivated mindset will become a habit, as well as a stimulating and enjoyable contributor to your way of thinking.
Susan Leigh, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s an author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.lifestyletherapy.net