How many times have you failed at trying to achieve your goals? For me, the number of times I have failed is higher than I would like to admit. But for the most part, many of my failures were early on. I took some time to figure out why I was failing so often and came up with a plan of attack. Since I’ve created my plan of attack, I’ve become more successful at reaching my goals.
Do you struggle to achieve your goals? If you are like many others, the answer is probably yes. Why do so many people have a hard time reaching the goals they set for themselves?
There are all sorts of studies out there trying to pinpoint why so many of us never reach our goals. I have my own theory based on my experience and I present it below. I also will show you how to overcome your failures using the plan of attack I created so that you can begin to achieve your goals.
Why We Fail At The Goals We Set
I think there are 2 reasons why people quit so quickly when trying to reach their goals: the first is because we live in an instant gratification society. We want and need things now. Not tomorrow, not next week, now.
The second reason is that many people only focus on the end result. You could be in credit card debt and have a goal of becoming debt free. If you only focus on the part of becoming debt free, you are going to get frustrated and give up quickly when you check your balance after making a sizable payment and see you still owe thousands.
Or you could be overweight and have a goal of six-pack abs. This too is a great goal. But many people will only focus on the six-pack. Every day they look in the mirror and don’t see results from the previous day’s cardio session. They look the day after that, don’t see results and get depressed and give up.
In order to achieve your goals, you need to take a different approach and learn to not only be more patient, but also not focus solely on the end result. In other words, enjoy the journey!
6 Tips To Achieve Your Goals
So how to you go about taking a different approach so you are more likely to see your goals through to the end and experience success? Here are the 6 tricks I used when I started to succeed at reaching my goals.
1. Set Reminders
When I recently talked about how to save money, I briefly touched on the importance of reminders. When it comes to achieving your goals, reminders are where it’s at. How many times do you set a goal and 6 months later forget about it? More often than not I would guess. It even happens to me at times. I come up with a goal I want to reach and a few weeks or months down the line, it’s completely forgotten about.
In order to keep up with our goals, we need reminders. Any sort of reminder will do. Studies have shown that when you are reminded of your goal, you are more likely to succeed in reaching that goal.
So start setting reminders for the goals you want to reach. Put them on your daily to do list. Add them into the reminders app on your phone. Make note of them in your work calendar. The more places you enter your goals the more likely you will see them written there and be motivated to act.
But what is even more interesting is that when you tie an image to a goal, you are three times more likely to succeed than with just a regular reminder. This is why you need to understand the importance of visualization.
2. Use Visualization
Let’s talk about how to incorporate visualization into goal setting. Let’s say your goal is to retire one day. Awesome, that is a great goal. But many people fail with this goal. The reason is because it is too broad. What exactly is retirement? In order to succeed with this goal, you need to get more specific about it. What does retirement mean to you? What do you want to do with your time in retirement?
For me, retirement looks like playing a lot of golf. This is much more specific. My goal is to save for retirement so that I can play a ton of golf. That is more specific, but many will still fail at achieving the goal. If I really want to increase my chances of success, I need to add a visual reminder to this goal.
This is easy to do. I can cut out pictures of a golf course and put them in my office or on my mirror at home. I can put a ball marker in my wallet if I wanted to. Anything that will remind me of my goal will work. This is because when I see the reminder, my mind will instantly tie it to its meaning to me – in this case, retirement.
When I was in credit card debt years ago, I used a visual reminder to help me get out. I took a picture of all of the stuff I bought with my credit card and kept that picture in my wallet. Whenever I was tempted to buy something and pulled out my wallet, I saw that picture. It would make me stop and question the purchase and most times, stop me from making the purchase altogether.
You will be much more excited and motivated to reach your goals when you begin to visualize. Let’s use another example, this time, getting into shape. Your goal might be to lose 30 pounds. In this case, you can get a fitness magazine and take out pictures of people that have the body that you would like to achieve. Then take those pictures and use them as visual reminders. Make a ton of photocopies of your future body and take it with you when you go grocery shopping and out to eat. This will help you pick healthy choices so that you can meet your goal.
3. Keep It Visible
As great as writing a goal down is or as powerful as visualization is, if you never look at the piece of paper the goal is written on or see the picture of your goal, you will still most likely forget about it and never follow through and achieve your goals. To overcome this, you need to keep that goal visible.
Have the reminder on your computer monitor or in your car or on your bathroom mirror. Any place you will see it on a daily basis works. This will avoid you forgetting about the goal, which is a big reason we fail.
The key here is to place the reminder in areas where you will see them most often. So take a few minutes to really think about where you spend the majority of your time and start to strategically place reminders in those areas.
4. Set Up Intermediate Goals
As I mentioned earlier, one reason we fail to achieve our goals is because we expect too much, too soon. Take the example of getting out of debt. You make a plan to pay more than the minimum for a few months. After a few months, you check out your balance thinking you are just about debt free but in reality you still have a long way to go. You become disappointed at not seeing the result quick enough and give up.
To achieve your goal of getting out of debt, you need to set an intermediate goal.
If you have $50,000 in debt and your goal for the year is to pay it off completely, you will first need to assess whether your goal is realistic. If you only make $25,000/year and do not plan on getting an additional job, receiving a windfall of cash, or robbing a bank, you cannot meet this goal.
However, let’s say that your goal is realistic and that you can pay off $50,000 this year. To arrive at a short term goal, divide $50,000 by 12 to get $4,167. That is the amount you need to pay each month for 12 months to pay off your debt. So your short term goal for January is to pay $4,167 of your debt. Your mid term goal would be to halve the debt to $25,000.
Without a short term goal, you may have made that $4,000 payment but get frustrated because you don’t think you will ever meet your goal. But with the short term goal, you know you will meet the goal. And, you can try to beat your short term goals. Try to pay an extra $5 to beat that goal. It will motivate you more each month.
If you want to pay off your debt but can’t do so in one year, you can still take advantage of setting intermediate goals. Again, assuming you have $50,000 worth of debt, focus on getting it down to $40,000. When you do this, celebrate it as you have reached a goal. Sure it isn’t your ultimate goal, but it is a goal nonetheless.
Then set up another goal for $30,000 and another for $20,000. If $10,000 increments are too much for you and you still lose focus, then set up your goals for $5,000 increments. Do whatever amount is necessary for you to stay motivated to reach your ultimate goal.
5. Ask Your Friends For Help
Although a goal is often something very personal, asking your close friends to help you fulfill it makes things a lot easier. Often, they won’t have to do anything other than give you a nudge or remind you of your goal. This is why most people that enlist the help of others are successful with reaching their goals. For example, if you plan to quit smoking, then your friends can help you by not smoking in your presence or steering you away from places where people are smoking.
I find that this trick really does work wonders. When I have used this trick, I have found that in moments when I was weak and wanted to give up, I would get a text or phone call out of the blue from a friend asking how things were going. Many times, the call wasn’t even to check in on the progress of my goal but rather just to say hi. But the fact that they were calling made me think about my goal and would relight the spark of wanting to achieve it.
Now, I get that some goals – many financial goals – aren’t ones you really want to share with friends or even family. But you should. They won’t judge you (especially if they really are your friends) but rather they will want to help and support you in any way they can. All you need to do is build up the courage to tell them about the goal. Trust me when I tell you that it is worth it to tell them.
6. Avoid Temptations
Lastly, giving in to temptations is a big reason why people fail to achieve their goals. Because of this, you must actively make an effort to avoid temptations. For example, if you have made a goal to boost your savings, then you should avoid going to the mall to window shop when you are bored. Take it from me, you will buy something even if you have no intention to do so.
If you want to Achieve your goals you have to sacrifice. Sacrificing now, so you can have what you want in the future is key to achieving your goals. If your goal is to get out of debt, you may need to say no to dining out with your friends, or hold off on taking vacations until you are debt free. It can definitely be difficult to say no, but think about all of the vacations and eating out you can do once you are debt free.
So there are your tricks to achieve your goals. Part of success is about changing up your outlook. You aren’t going to get out of debt, save a million dollars or have six pack abs in one week’s time. It’s just not possible. The sooner you can realize this and learn that your goals will take time, the greater the odds of achieving them.
From there you also have to learn to enjoy the journey. Don’t be consumed with the end result of being debt free or having lost 50 pounds. Get excited when you pay down $5,000 worth of debt or lose 10 pounds. By making smaller, bite sized goals, you keep your motivation and determination high.
If you can do these two things by using the tricks I’ve outlined here, you will begin to achieve your goals at a higher rate. The great thing about this is that the success will snowball upon itself, making you more excited to set new goals to achieve. So take some time to begin using these tips and start reaching your goals.