How many times have you started a bucket list, only to abandon it the second your schedule got just a little bit heavier than usual? Learning how to set successful goals can be a hard task to master, but the difference between success and failure is determination. You can hope to achieve the coolest things: Learn how to play the piano, bake the best three layer cakes, get a job at your favorite company, go on a yoga retreat in Northern India, save enough money for a Route 66 road trip. All of these things sound fantastical and doable, but the difference between leaving them on a to-do list and basking in the warm glow of accomplishment is making up your mind that you're going to get started on the process, no matter how hard or inconvenient.
And that's the thing: There will never be a perfect time to achieve a goal. Life is messy, and wrenches get thrown into plans all the time. Work gets hectic, projects get added to our plates, sometimes we come home exhausted and other times we feel too lazy to move off of the couch. But if we indulge our excuses then nothing gets finished. So it's time to shake a leg: Below are seven tips to set successful goals and reach them!
1. Create An Epic Bucket List
When thinking of what goals you want to reach, don't limit yourself. Sure you might want to take lessons, improve skills, get further in your career, but you might have secret wishes or plans buried deep inside that you've never really entertained exploring. Bring them to light by listing as many things as you want to accomplish and do in the next five years, and let yourself delve into the possibility of actually achieving them. So hash out an epic list, no matter how hard or improbable some of your ideas might be to reach.
Lifestyle writer Whitney Haldeman from The Everygirl explained, "It may feel greedy, overwhelming, or like you’re setting yourself up for failure. But the more you dig the more you’ll realize the things you really want. You’ll discover gems buried deep inside you that you didn’t even realize." No limits!
2. Tell People All About It
Do you have a lot of plans but find excuses when it's time to do them? To jump over that hurddle, tell people all about the goal you're currently working on. Why? It'll make you feel accountable (no one likes admitting they're slacking) and will motivate you to keep trying.
On top of that, you'll get encouragement and support in a way that'll make you excited to accomplish everything you set your mind to. Leadership writer Molly Cain from Forbes said, "When you tell people your goals, they will jump in the boat with you and help you get there. You will be shocked by the support you’ll get from your network." Whether it's a thumbs up or a connection, a helping hand is always welcome.
3. Keep In Mind Challenges Are Great Things
It's super easy to throw in the towel when we run into a string of challenges — money is too tight so that Capri vacation is off, work is too hectic to keep writing, you burn every dish you touch so you can never learn to be a French food master. But if you change your perspective of what a challenge is, you can deal with it a whole lot better.
And what it is is a chance to prove to yourself how badly you want to reach that goal. It's a chance to flex your muscles and work a little harder and, as a result, feel all the more satisfied when you plow right through it.
Natalie Jesionka from career development site The Muse wrote, "Often, of course, you’ll just need to plow through the challenge—but this will be the point that actually brings you the most satisfaction. Pushing through a challenge instead of being stunted by it will help you be a stronger advocate for yourself and recognize there is a way to handle problems with grace. And, each time you overcome a challenge, it becomes that much easier to do it again in the future." And think about it: When has anything ever been achieved easily? It always takes a little bit of sweat.
4. Set Yourself A Schedule
Goals are easier to achieve if they become a regular practice in your life. You won't learn the guitar if you play it only once a week, and you won't be able to turn your side hustle into a small business if you give it attention whenever you "have enough time." So to make this a reachable goal, set yourself a schedule that ensures that you work on it daily.
Behavior Psychology writer James Clear offered, "Productive and successful people practice the things that are important to them on a consistent basis...The schedule is your friend. You can’t predict when you’ll have a stroke of genius and write a moving story, paint a beautiful portrait, or make an incredible picture, but the schedule can make sure that you’re working when that stroke of genius happens."
Take out a planner and pencil in what you need to do every day in order to stay on track with your goals. They're no longer electives, but a regular part of your to-do list.
5. Circle A Date On The Calendar
Reaching a goal is hard work when you don't have a deadline looming. While that can sound a smidge forbearing, it actually motivates you to work in a timely manner to get you where you need to be. Cain pointed out, "One of the best ways to knock out a goal is to put it on your calendar. If you put a stake in the ground and impose a date on yourself, you’re much more likely to reach it."
Whether it's saving enough money for an amazing trip, getting a promotion at work, locking down a gig you've been dreaming about, or learning how to play the piano, all that will become more feasible and real once you know by when you should achieve it. It moves it from "one day" to "right now."
6. Share Your Knowledge As You Gain It
There's a certain satisfaction that comes from being looked at as a budding expert in the field you're working on. But even more so, you get a warm glow all over when you inspire those to reach for their own aspirations the way you currently are. That's why you should share your knowledge as you gain it — it motivates you to keep going, because now the goal isn't solely for selfish reasons.
Jesionka explained, "You’ll find that this actually helps you enjoy the process even more because you have a chance to reflect on your own knowledge and experience and recognize the powerful skills you have to offer. Plus, you’ll establish yourself as a mentor and expert in your field — which will only provide you with more opportunities as you move forward." Whether that's starting a blog, writing articles about your journey, creating YouTube videos, or sharing your experience on Instagram, the more knowledge you share the better you'll stick to your plan.
7. Keep The Work Of The Goal In Mind
Have you ever been working towards a goal that makes you miserable while doing it? If so, ditch it. It takes a lot longer to actually work for the goal than the glow of success you experience once you reach it, so make sure you do things for the journey.
Stever Robbins, executive coach and career writer for entrepenuer site Fast Company pointed out, "We adopt goals for one reason and one reason only: to change our lives. Rather than adopting a goal you hope will change your life once you reach it, do it the other way around. Choose the journey that for you would be awesome — the activities, personal growth, and friends. Then choose a goal that acts as a compass to give you that life as part of the journey." If you hate the process of your goal every step of the way, then it's no wonder you constantly give up on it. Focus on the journey of the goal, and choose one that will give you pleasure and insight along the way.
Here's to rolling up our sleeves, and crushing all our dreams. We've got this!