Six Golden Rules for Successful Goal Setting

business-woman-at-office_Cliparto-3643399-SmallHow does it feel to be back at work after summer holidays? Are you feeling full of energy and enthusiasm or frustrated about being in the same place and same role?

Or are you feeling like…

Jean-Paul, a senior executive at a private finance firm, who’s been dreaming of launching his own business for years yet does nothing about it?

Or Christine, a manager at a large international company, who’s been waiting to get promoted for years in vain and who keeps postponing making a decision about what to do?

Or Veronique, who hops from one job to another every two years, without taking a moment to understand what she really wants and how to best position herself in the job market?

While all these people desire a change, they do little or nothing to move forward.

What about you? What are the goals you have set for yourself that you were not able to follow through? Are they about your career, your health or fitness, time with family, or social life?

Are your goals clear, specific and measurable? As you know, lack of clear goals make us drown in the everyday detail of work and life and be led by other people’s priorities.

Here are 6 rules to help you set goals successfully and therefore get the results you want.

1. Set your goals from a deeper place of purpose and values.  

Your goals will feel more powerful once you connect them to your inner drivers and motivation behind. Ask yourself why you want to achieve a certain thing. Keep going deeper to your underlying reasons until you find your true motivation. For instance, if you want to launch your own business, find your motivation: are you driven by the desire to make more impact, create something special, be in charge of your time, be your own boss?

2. Phrase your goals in a specific and positive way.

Our minds do not like vagueness. For instance “I want a more fulfilling career” is too vague. Here’s one way how we can rephrase it: “I want to find a position in which I feel recognised and fulfilled, where I earn 50 percent more, and I want to do that by December 2016“. This is very specific and positive.

Same with “I want to get in shape“; it is too vague. A clearer more specific goal is “I want to lose 4 kilograms in 2 months so I can feel and look better.

Negative phrasing does not work either. You probably know from NPL that ‘not’ gets dropped and our brain will pick up the rest, eg “I do not want to lose my job” will get somehow turned into “I want to lose my job“. Scary, ah? Choose to phrase things in a positive way and you’ll see a different result. For instance, “I want to boost my position within the organisation and feel valued” is a better way to express the goal above.

Adding a deadline to your goal will make it more powerful. Remember to stay specific, realistic and positive, though.

3. Divide your goal into sub-goals.

and come up with daily action steps you can take every day towards the sub-goals. Usually it is those daily “baby” steps that help us stay on the track and keep moving forward.

4. Notice how you self-sabotage.

We set our goals on the conscious level, yet the mental habits, inner drivers, beliefs and fears we all have on the subconscious level end up sabotaging our ability to achieve those goals, According to neuroscientists, our conscious mind processes 7 bits of information per second. Compare this to the subconscious level that processes 11 millionbits of information every second. Who do you think wins the race: our subconscious beliefs and fears or our goals?

So when we say to ourselves “I want to change” (doesn’t matter what – a job, a company, a city, a habit), all kinds of fears and distractions get instantly triggered, be it inertia, excuses “I do not have time“, “Ive got to take care of X, Y and Z first” etc. We thus start procrastinating, making one step forward and two steps back, and might even give up.

Is there anything we can do about it? YES!

5. Take a mindful pause and notice the behaviors, excuses and distractions

that are keeping you from reaching our goals. Acknowledge what’s going on. If you can, find compassion towards yourself and validate how hard it is for you to make these changes. Then try again, making a new mini action step from a kind, compassionate place, without perfectionism or self-judgement.

6. Get an accountability buddy.

Pair up with a friend, a colleague or a coach to help you stay accountable on reaching your goals. You can also use them to discuss the subconscious drivers and mental habits that may be jeopardising your progress.

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