Goal setting 101: fool-proof guide to getting results

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Brian Tracy wrote: ‘Your ability to set goals is the master skill of success…Without goals, you simply drift and flow on the currents of life. With goals, you fly like an arrow, straight to your target.”

It’s true. Goals hold you accountable. Goals create commitment. And goals give you the motivation and confidence to go after your dreams. It doesn’t matter if you’re struggling to lose those last five kilos of ‘stubborn fat’ or if you are looking to drop the first 20 kilos that are harming your health and your future, you must set goals. They are the fuel in the furnace of success.

Unfortunately, the art of goal setting is rarely taught.

So what makes a good goal and how do we set goals? According to research, there are five fundamentals for successful goal setting. Goals should be:

» Personal: your goals should be in harmony with your inner values. Or as best-selling author Stephen Covey once said: “Be sure that, as you scramble up the ladder of success, it is leaning against the right building.” One of the best questions to ask when you’re setting goals is: ‘What do I really want?’

» Specific: the most successful goals are specific. Such goals keep you motivated and steer your actions in the right direction. It is also easier to measure your progress when you have a clear sense of the outcome. So don’t say, ‘I want to lose weight.’ Instead say, ‘I want to drop my body fat percentage from 31% to 24% within six months.’

» Challenging: of course, remain realistic. So don’t say you want abs in a month if you’re 20 kilos overweight. But don’t be afraid to go for goals that push you outside your comfort zone. If you think about your goals, they should give you a tingling sensation in your stomach. Such goals not only motivate you, but they also give you a strong feeling of competence when you succeed.

» Written down: the act of putting your goals on paper creates a stance. According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, once we’ve taken a stance, we have a deep desire to be consistent with it. The goal becomes a part of us.

» Time-bound: You have to set a deadline. It forces you to take action, holds you accountable and makes it easier for you to measure progress. So take out the diary or whiteboard marker, make it the screen saver on your phone or even write them in eyeliner on your mirror. However you choose to set and document your goals is your decision. But the decision to not document your goals – that’s a fear of failure. That is what ultimately holds us back from success: that little voice in your head ‘what if I fail’. It’s time to step-up and set some big goals. You may fail – but if you follow these steps, you may just succeed.