Set meaningful goals to create real, lasting change in your life
What is an area in your life that you’d like to change? Is it your body? Is there a skill you’d like to acquire? Do you want to take your relationship to the next level? What about your business or your career – is there something specific that you want to achieve?
What in your life do you want to master?
When it comes to mastery, the first step is setting a goal. It’s a fundamental key to all lifelong success plans. Now, you might be thinking that the concept of goal-setting isn’t exactly ground-breaking, but here’s the stark reality – most people don’t have a clearly defined set of goals. And more than that, the goal-setting process that we are talking about goes far beyond merely speaking in the affirmative and having a vision for something greater.
In 1953, Yale researchers conducted an intensive study, where they interviewed the graduating class just before they left school. They asked the students a series of questions, one being: “Do you have a clear, specific set of goals with a written plan for achievement?” Interestingly enough, less than 3% of the students answered “yes.”
Then, 20 years later, in 1973, the researchers went back and interviewed the surviving class members of the class of 1953, to find out what their lives were like. They noted that the 3% that had written their goals for a specific plan seemed to be happier and more well-adjusted than the others. Of course, that is subjective. But they also found that the 3% group was worth more in financial terms than the other 97% who did not have clear goals.
This is the power of goals. Goals allow us to create our future in advance. They allow us to envision our destiny, and, in turn, shape our lives. They give us direction and hope.
Now, we all have goals – whether they are as banal as merely getting through the day, or as lofty as becoming President of the United States. The problem with most people’s goals is that they don’t exactly inspire you to jump out of bed in the morning. This is why we need meaningful goals. Meaningful goals create emotion and drive inside of you. They spur you to grow and expand. But if you want meaningful goals, then you must create goals that are compelling enough to draw those emotions out of you.
But how do you do that, exactly?
Write your goals down – not on a computer, but on paper, or in a journal. There’s something that happens when we write something down. You become a creator when you write down your goals. And you are acknowledging both to your conscious and subconscious minds that where you are right now is not where you want to be. Your brain then makes this distinction and becomes dissatisfied.
One of the strongest motivators is a sense of dissatisfaction. When you’re totally comfortable and relaxed, you’re not going to be motivated to do whatever it takes to make things happen. Dissatisfaction is a power that you want. There is real drive when you find some things that you want to move away from. Tension and pressure can serve as powerful drivers of our actions. Use this as a tool to influence yourself so you can start to take actionable steps toward your success.
Now, get crystal clear. Write out the details – how would achieving this goal make you feel? What would that mean to you? How will it change your life?
By getting absolutely clear as to why you must achieve your goal, you will find your purpose. And purpose is stronger than outcome. The purpose of a goal is not so you can get the result, it’s what the end result will make you as a person.
Knowing this purpose will help keep you laser-focused, and it will help get you through the rough times. If you create a strong enough “why” to keep you going, you will have the fuel to endure anything that comes your way. Ultimately, material objects or a certain title will not make you happy. The only thing that will make you happy is the person you have become and what you have created in your lifetime.
So what are the reasons that you must achieve your goal? How will it change your life for the better? What lies underneath?
It’s perfectly okay to have no idea how you are going to achieve your goal. And it’s perfectly okay to set goals that go beyond your present ability or skill. What’s important here is that you operate from absolute total belief and faith.
Frame your goals with absolute certainty – that no matter what, you will find a way to make it happen. Even if it seems impossible to you now, you know in your core that you can pull it off. When you have that fundamental belief, you will be taking back control of your life. So even though you may not be able to control the outside world or the challenges that come your way, you know that you will persevere and overcome.
So many people give up prematurely because they focus on the outcome and then stop and tell themselves, “I don’t know how to do that,” or “I could never achieve that.” But what if you didn’t have to figure out how to do it, but rather, believe that you will figure it out no matter what? That achieving your goal is not only within the realm of possibilities, it is an absolute certainty? Just imagine how that could change your life right now.
Think about the greatest coaches of all-time: Vince Lombardi and John Wooden, for example. They were famous for teaching the fundamentals to individuals who were already the best at what they did. And they did it over and over again. Why? Because repetition is the mother of skill.
You cannot set goals one time, never look at them again – and then expect long-term results. Your subconscious mind may know the general direction to move in, but the power comes from daily practice and constant review. People looking for a quick fix will never achieve mastery. Reaching your goals takes focus and practice: You have to repeat it over and over again.
If it’s a new skill you want to acquire, practice is a key part of that. If you’re looking to achieve more in your business, then determine the core processes you need to shift and execute those on a regular basis. What about bringing more joy and passion into your relationship? Intimacy is a daily practice.
If you want to master anything you have to ingrain it into your system. And practice is a key part of that. Remember, consistent practice, constant focus – this is what will result in a profound and lasting impact on your life.
Header image © Shutterstock / A and I Kruk