Jim Rohn once said “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
How many of us have set New Year’s resolutions that were forgotten after the first week of the New Year? We have all seen the New Year’s Resolution Gym Members who started with determination but became too busy later on. To begin 2015, let’s shed some light on goal setting – how to set goals and motivate ourselves to achieve them.
1. Write down all of your goals.
Writing all of your goals down is the most important part of the process of achieving them. When you write down your goals, you are able to organize them easily and they automatically move one step closer to being achieved instead of forever remaining a figment of your imagination. Moreover, a study performed on students in 2014 showed that writing things down helps us to retain more of what we learn . This link between writing and memory demonstrates that writing goals helps us to think of them more often, and in turn, work toward achieving them.
“Don’t just think it, ink it.” – Mark Victor Hansen
2. Set SMART goals.
We’ve all heard it before. SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Setting goals is simple, achieving them is the challenging part. All goals must be ‘SMART’, otherwise they are merely unattainable dreams.
- First of all, a specific goal is one that is defined clearly and accurately. Beware of goals that are worded vaguely. For example, a vaguely worded goal would be, “I will become healthier.” How? By eating healthily? By exercising? It is important to differentiate between these because the smaller goals within a larger one are what help you to achieve the ‘bigger picture’.
- Next comes measurable, which suggests that your goals should have quantities associated with them, if possible. This is the difference between “I will read books” and “I will read one book per month”. This further defines the goal and provides a good place to start. When making your goals measurable, ask yourself questions like, how many or how much?
- Equally important is that your goals must be attainable. Ensure that you are able to take certain steps to achieve your goals. Everyone would like to win the lottery, but the likeliness of that is one in 14 million, according to statistics.  Set goals that are challenging, but obtainable at the same time.
- Make relevant goals. Perhaps you have a goal to become a major league soccer player. Although it may be a fantastic goal, it would not be relevant if you have just begun your career as an accountant.
- Lastly, all of your goals should be set in a fixed time frame. When there is no time limit associated with a goal, there is no urgency to achieve it.
3. Create an action plan.
After writing down all of your SMART goals, create an action plan for each goal. How will you achieve your goals? What steps will you need to take to achieve them? What obstacles might come in the way between you and your goals? How will you overcome these obstacles? You must consider all of these questions when formulating an action plan.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” – Alan Lakein
4. Carry out your action plan.
The truth is that no one else will do it for you. If you don’t take action, none of your goals will be achieved. Statistics from 2014 published by the University of Scranton show that 75% of people who make New Year’s resolutions uphold their resolutions for the first week of the New Year, and only 46% maintain them for six months into the New Year.  It is important to stay dedicated and to not give up. Keep the image of you achieving your goal in your mind to motivate yourself.
5. Create greater goals after achieving old ones.
One of the keys to success is to constantly challenge yourself. After all, Steve Jobs didn’t just invent the first model of the iPod and stop there. If he hadn’t continuously worked to improve and innovate new models and more products, Apple would not be as successful as it is today. It is essential to set higher goals each time you achieve your goals to keep your momentum going.
6. Reward yourself after accomplishments.
Incentive is what motivates us to keep going, so why not reward yourself after reaching a milestone? If you have achieved a goal you should be proud of yourself. Whether it is a night out with the people you love or a new set of gym gear, rewarding yourself after success is a great way to keep yourself happy and motivated to achieve higher goals in the future.
Final Tips and Advice
On a final note, goal setting is a very personal and internal struggle. It is important that we are patient because achieving a goal may take a lot of time and effort. Furthermore, we must make goals to do things that we truly believe will benefit our lives and make goals to leave the things in our lives that cause us harm. An excellent reminder of this is the following quote by Imam Ali (AS):
“You will never achieve what you want until you leave what you desire, and you will never reach your goals until you have patience with what you hate.”
 Meyer, Robinson. “To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 01 May 2014. Web. 10 Jan. 2015. www.theatlantic.com.
 “Lotteries: What Are the Odds?” CBC News. CBC News, 9 Nov. 2009. Web. 10 Jan. 2015. www.cbc.ca.
 “New Years Resolution Statistics.” Statistic Brain RSS. University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Jan. 2015. www.statisticbrain.com.