It’s March, which means warmer weather, spring break … and the complete likelihood that your New Year’s resolutions have been pushed aside. It can be so easy to set goals, but the follow through? Not so much. And when that component fails, it’s easy to feel defeated and uninspired. So what’s the secret to sticking the landing? We spoke to Birmingham-based coach and psychologist Dr. Martha Anne Rich of Rich Potential to pinpoint the best way to set goals and, more importantly, to stick with them. After all, achieving the goals is the most rewarding part. Here are her tips for setting goals and achieving them.
The Keys to Successful Goal Setting
Identify your goals.
Dr. Rich suggests that in order to begin setting goals, you really need to be honest with yourself on what is most important in your life and your top priorities. The “Wheel of Life Assessment” is a helpful tool she uses with her clients — and one that you can use as well — to get a better feel for how areas like friends, love, career and money rank in their lives. But it’s not limited to these subjects. Another good place to start identifying what is most important to you is by taking a look at what she calls the “7 Fs”: Faith, Family, Friends, Fun, Finances, Fitness and Future.
“There are all kinds of goals that we can set,” Dr. Rich says. “At some point we have to figure out which ones will have the biggest impact on our lives in terms of progress that we want to make and things that would be most likely to bring us happiness and increased life satisfaction.”
It’s beneficial to remember that what’s important to you at this phase in your life could easily change for the next. Dr. Rich reveals that when she’s working in an executive coach setting, sometimes a client has three or four aspects of work that would be most important and a few that aren’t work-related.
When pinpointing your goals, it is also good to note that they don’t always have to be centered around an area that you want to spend more time on. A goal can be about increasing or decreasing certain behaviors. And, when setting your goals, the more specific you are, the better. A goal of simply being happier is not going to be beneficial.
Plan it out.
Once you’ve identified an area of your life around which you’d like to center a goal, it’s then all about planning the process by which you achieve that goal. Dr. Rich stresses that a good goal is one that is difficult, but achievable. “When we set our goals too low or when it’s too hard, our effort is low,” she says.
Also, it’s common for people to be over-achievers and set way too many goals at one time. It’s unrealistic and can be extremely disheartening when you can’t accomplish them all. Dr. Rich typically works on one to two broader goals with a client, such as starting a business or losing weight. Then she helps her client pinpoint two or three actions to support those goals, for example decreasing calorie intake and increasing fitness in order to achieve the desired weight loss.
Make it a group effort.
If you tell your friends and family about your new goal, it’s more likely to stick. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you need someone keeping you accountable and asking about your goal on a regular basis, just simply knowing someone is watching increases your success rate. Even better? Set a group goal with friends or coworkers. This should be a goal you’re all striving for — not individual goals. Not only are you benefitting, but you’re helping people close to you evolve as well. It’s a win-win.
The Power of Positive Thinking
As you prepare to set out in pursuit of achieving your goals, it’s important to point out the power of positive thinking. When asked about how to begin thinking more positively, Dr. Rich points to Stanford professor Carol Dweck’s concept of growth mindset versus fixed mindset. The concept is simple, but extremely helpful when it comes to increasing happiness in our everyday lives.
A fixed mindset has to do with needing to be an expert or really good at something in order to be happy. The problem here is that there is always going to be someone better at that subject or skill than you are, and this can be dejecting. On the other hand, a growth mindset is the idea that you don’t have to be the best of the best at something, but as long as you’re making progress toward those goals that fulfill you, you’re going to be happy.
“A growth mindset can help us be motivated to achieve those goals. In a fixed mindset, you think that you will never be good enough and that has us not accomplishing things that we actually could accomplish and experience life satisfaction from,” she concludes.
When you’re ready to get started on setting goals (and achieving them!), start with the “Life Priorities Exercise.” Click HERE to download the worksheet provided by Dr. Rich.
And good luck! Here’s to living your best life!
To find out more about life coaching and executive coaching, see richpotential.com.
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