Yes, there are a few simple principles you can employ to improve the results you get with the goals that you set. Surprisingly, some of these do not seem to be common knowledge. Once you know them they are really simple and easy to use. But don’t let that fool you – just ’cause they are simple does not mean that they are not powerful.
Write A Goal Statement: In order to empower your goal with both clarity and deep commitment, (important elements in making sure you achieve your goal), write a “Goal Statement.” This is a succinct, clear, direct statement of what you want.
Aim Where You Want To Go and Not Where You Don’t Want To Go: This may seem obvious, but lots of people miss this when they set goals. Take a look at the following example:
Suppose you are 40 pounds overweight and wish to lose the excess weight and reach a more healthy weight. You might be tempted to set a goal: “I want to lose this excess weight and not be fat anymore.” That seems reasonable, doesn’t it?
But there’s a hidden problem with this goal statement: This statement, “I want to lose this excess weight and not be fat anymore.” uses what we call: “Away From Motivation.”
The Goal Statement is written to avoid something rather than aiming towards something that is desired. If you set this statement as a goal it is likely that you will feel motivated to take appropriate actions just until you have lost the weight. Then because you are no longer fat, your subconscious will assume the goal has been reached and the motivation will disappear. This will make it very difficult to maintain your new healthy weight. You are likely to find yourself a victim of the dreaded “yoyo weight syndrome”.
A far better goal statement might be: “I want to reach and maintain my healthy body weight”. Notice that this statement is pointing towards some outcome you want rather than away from some outcome you don’t want.
There’s another reason why setting a goal that focuses on what you want rather than on avoiding what you don’t want is more likely to help you get good results. Some years ago I was teaching someone how to ride a mountain bike. We started in a relatively flat, dirt parking lot. Pretty quickly we graduated to some simple trail riding. I’ll never forget watching her fix her eyes on a log that was alongside of the trail in an effort to avoid it. I yelled for her to look where she wanted to go. But her eyes were fixed on the log instead. Of course, she rode right into the log.
Fortunately, she was not hurt, and it cemented a valuable lesson for us both. In the physical, your body follows your eyes. In the world of goals, your life and your actions follow what you focus on; they follow your vision. So it is much more powerful to focus on a healthy weight as something you are moving towards as opposed to losing weight or being less fat as something you are moving away from. This also takes advantage of a basic but powerful aspect of the Law of Attraction. It’s always there, so why not use it?
Make Your Goal Realistic: It is important that your goals be realistic and that you believe they are attainable. In the case of our goal to reach our healthy weight we need to assign a completion date in order to determine if it is realistic. Obviously, if we set a goal to lose 40 pounds in six weeks our goal is not realistic. (Even if we could lose that much weight that quickly, it would not be healthy to do so.)
Setting goals that are not realistic is a cruel form of self-sabotage. Each time you set a goal that is not realistic and then naturally fail to achieve the desired result, you undermine your self-confidence and reduce your power to achieve goals in the future. Doing this repeatedly can also weaken your self-esteem. This form of self-sabotage is likely not conscious, but the damage can be profound nonetheless.
So to make our statement realistic we might modify it to read: “I want to reach and maintain my healthy body weight within six months.” If your Goal Statement feels too ambitious and you lack confidence that you can achieve it, then modify it so it feels more realistic.
Actually there is still a problem with our example Goal Statement: If you set the completion date as six months from now, you never really get there. Each day you look at your Goal Statement and the completion is always six months away. A much better way to write this Goal Statement is to set a specific date: “I want to reach and maintain my healthy body weight by January 10th, 2010.”
Formulating My Goal Statement: Here’s a general method I have used over the years to write goal statements that have helped me to get the results I want in my life:
1. I identify an area in my life where I want better results.
2. I allow my imagination to run wild and create the optimum vision of the results I want.
3. For complex or ambitious goals I often pick a realistic interim step that seems achievable within a relatively short time-frame – perhaps a month, maybe 3 months. For some goals, I may not need any interim step. I may be able to shoot for the ultimate result right away. So this is an optional step in my process.
4. Now I write a goal statement that succinctly and powerfully describes the results I want. I make sure I am focused on the outcome that I want and not on something I wish to avoid. I do not list or focus on the steps I may need to follow. I rely on my focus on the desired outcome and my committment to achieving the goal to help me with implementation as I work towards my goal.
5. Next I read my goal statement out loud and see how it feels. Does it make me feel good to hear it? Does it feel empowering? Does it feel realistic? I make modifications to my goal statement until it seems right.
6. Now I say it out loud a few times and visualize myself having achieved it. I make sure that I visualize a calendar that shows the date that I have set for achieving my goal. To put my whole power and force behind it, I pay attention to what I hear as I sit or stand there with my goal achieved. I pay attention to what it feels like, what is smells like, and to as many sensory perceptions as I can.
Now I am ready to move in the direction of my goal.
Optional – Working Backwards To Now: Actually, there is an optional step that may be helpful: If the goal is complex or particularly challenging, then it is helpful to work backwards in time from the day the goal is scheduled to be achieved to the present. When I do this I make a list of benchmarks and actions as I go.
For example, if my goal is to add 5 new health articles to my web site in the next 30 days, I ask the following:
In order to have my 5 articles finished within 30 days, what must be completed by day 29; what must be completed by day 28, by day 27, and so on. By the time I am at the present date I have my list and my action plan. As long as I check in every day and realistically assess my progress, making adjustments along the way, I have a very good chance to realize my goal.
Please note that the entire process described above is a simplified version. However, it still can be very powerful and effective. To reach complex goals or ones that involve overcoming significant challenges, please look for the “Setting and Reaching Goals” article which will be in our library, very soon. When it is ready, there will be a link to it here.