Hands up if you’re sick of setting goals every new year and achieving none of them by the end of the year? Sound familiar? Then, perhaps it’s time to end the cycle. Firstly, you must let go of the idea that you lack willpower or that you are just unlucky – that’s not your problem. If you’re wondering how to achieve your goals, read on to discover three best strategies for successful goal setting.

Focus on moving towards pleasure not away from pain

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, do exercise or stop smoking… and failed, you will have noticed that when you gave in, it was because your desire for a quick pleasure hit outweighed the misery caused by the thing you wanted to change.

Similarly, have you ever noticed that getting up for a 6 am run feels like torture when you hate running, yet getting up at 6 am to catch a flight to your dream holiday destination is no problem at all?

These examples reflect the biggest secret to achieving your goals: the payoff has to revolve around getting something you love rather than losing something you hate.

To achieve this when changing careers, you must reframe your thinking. Stop focusing on why you hate your current job and turn your attention to why you can’t wait to get started in your dream career.

Then set a goal of achieving the job you want rather than leaving the job you hate.

goal setting success
Keep your goals positive by moving towards what you want instead of away from what you don’t want.

Write it down and tell people

This seems so simple on the outside, but it’s vital for successful goal setting. The reason for this is quite simply that change is hard and you will try and sabotage yourself at every turn. A classic self-sabotage strategy is moving or downsizing your goals when the going gets tough.

Be honest, how many times have you said I will do X by the end of the month, and when the end of the month is in sight, you suddenly decide that X can wait one more month.

Without accountability, you will struggle to follow through on and achieve your goals, FACT. Don’t take the risk, write down the things you want to achieve, when you want to achieve them by and then tell people about them.

But don’t turn to your well-meaning friend who always agrees with you and tells you what you want to hear – he or she won’t call you out if you backtrack on your plans. If you want to achieve your goals, you’ll need to tell people who are straight-talking, or better still, tell those who don’t believe you will follow through on your word.

Never underestimate the power of saving face for making you stick to your goals.

how to achieve your goals
Approach goal setting like a journey. Get clear on your destination, then focus on taking one step at a time to get there.

Focus on one step at a time

No matter how organised and focused you are, overwhelm will trip you up and stop you from hitting your goal. Overwhelm happens when we feel like we have to do everything right now. And when the realisation sets in that you can’t do everything you need to do, self doubt skyrockets, and you quickly abandon your plans.

The best way to avoid overwhelm is to set bite-sized goals. Don’t focus on having a million-pound business by the end of the year if you currently don’t have a business idea. And don’t set the goal of being the CEO of a film studio when you currently work as a dentist. The leap is too big to fathom.

Instead, ask yourself, what is the next step I need to take to get to my ultimate goal? Once you are clear about this, make that next step your goal for the next few weeks or the next month.

For example, a dentist who wants to run a film studio could consider getting hands-on experience in a film studio as the first key step – after all, she needs to check how one actually runs before she can do it for herself. Once that first goal has been achieved, simply repeat the process by asking yourself what the next step you need to take is. Then take it.

Baby steps applied consistently will always get you to your destination.

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