The Magic of Goals

All of us like setting new goals, both personal and professional. But why do we fail to achieve them? What can we do?

We are almost through this year, and some of you are already glad its coming to an end. Some of you may already be setting your sights on some new goals and objectives for next year. Others are just cruising and the very thought of setting any goals hasnt taken root yet.

Instead of New Year resolutions, which are often such a waste of time, try some of these tips to create the right goals for yourself. Forget about waiting until the New Year. When was the last time you made a New Year resolution, or know of someone who made one and carried it through? The Self-help Magazine states that only 30 per cent are successful. Ditch New Year resolutions. What you want are goals instead. Goals transcend seasonality, and rushed thinking. Here are my tips on achieveing most of your goals.

1. Create crystal clear goals that you can own. Formulate goals that are exciting and framed positively. Have fun setting yourself a goal that you can imagine in very, very real terms, such as what you will feel, hear and see when you have achieved it. For some rather intangible goals, imagine instead the scene when the achievement of that goal is announced. Who will you be with? What will people around you be saying? These are some ways to futureforward your goal.

Imagine a specific timeframe in which to achieve it. Then take responsibility (as much as possible) to get it done. Weak goals are those that rely too much on you persuading other people to do this or that. Revisit your goal regularly whether you are in the shower, working out, or on your daily commute. Live breathe and think it. In leadership coaching terms we refer to this as internalising an intangible so that a manifestation of it can happen.

2. Forget those fantasy goals. Any goal, which you have dreamed of achieving for ages, but never got around to realising or attempting to make it a reality, is a fantasy goal. It obviously isnt important enough for you to want to take appropriate action.

3. Plan ahead. A goal that is worth pursuing is one where you have begun by making some real plans to achieve it. This may include intermediate stages and goals to get you where you ultimately want to go. The best goal-getting strategies include finding all the resources needed to achieve the goal. If there are several uncertainties ahead, you can be flexible in terms of timelines and the exact shape and form of that goal without necessarily giving it up. So part of goal-getting is managing your expectations and resources, without giving up the dream completely when faced with setbacks and obstacles.

4. Decide you will do it. Many of you will NOT succeed because you didnt decide to do it. You hummed and hawed, and mentally said you would try to do it. Putting try into this equation amounts to a sneaky and unproductive backdoor to excuse yourself from getting the goal achieved. Deciding you will do it, and anchoring that with a daily ritual, thought or reminder is a powerful tool in getting things moving. For several years a stone taken from near the summit of Mt Everest was a symbol that helped me mount a comeback climb on that peak. Each day, do at least ONE thing that brings you closer to your goal, no matter how small.

5. Make a commitment to someone you respect that you will achieve the goal. Whoa! This one will really make you feel accountable. Talk to this person often. Meet, and bring up your goal from time to time. Hold yourself responsible to a living person and I guarantee improved results. It can also help if this person is a trained coach who can challenge your perceptions and self-limiting beliefs. Asking yourself great questions can also lead you closer to your goal. Such questions are:

- What else do I need to get closer to my goal?
- What stops me from doing what I need to succeed?
- What would I get from achieving this goal that I couldnt get from anything else?

6. Create more than one goal in your plan. As you get closer to achieving the easier goals, the feeling of achievement will help you move more effectively towards your more challenging goals. A useful combination is to plan on achieving a compelling personal goal, as well as one professional goal.
Having two related goals with differing timelines can also be a powerful momentum builder. Preparing to climb an 8000m peak prior to a Mt Everest climb, may prove to be exhilarating, as well as great preparation for the ultimate goal.

Instead of wishing you good luck in reaching your goal, let me wish you success in making your own luck.

David Lim, Founder, Everest Motivation Team, is a leadership and negotiation coach, best-selling author and two-time Mt Everest expedition leader.

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