Dream. We all have one. Do you ever wonder how some people realise their dreams better than the rest of us? Perhaps, you have the same vision, and you tried reaching for it, but you honestly have no idea how to get there. So, you ask yourself, how do they do it?
"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible to visible." – Tony Robbins
We all have dreams, but not all have goals, clearly defined ones. Let us then determine what a goal is. A goal is an idea or a result that you want to achieve. It is a notion of your future or an end-state that you envision for yourself. Setting goals is what sets successful people apart. Like most of us, they dream, but they don't stop there. They set their goals and then set out to reach them.
"Dreams versus Goals: Goals are dreams with deadlines." – Napoleon Hill
The difference between having a dream and a goal is the action taken to make it happen. Think about it; you can dream even while you're sleeping. With goals, you must have focus and commitment. When we yearn to fulfil that one thing that we believe would make us complete, it will take some work. This is where goal setting comes in.
Goal setting is the process by which we achieve our goals. Committing to attain a goal encompasses figuring out the steps we need to take to reach our ideal future for ourselves and our loved ones. It becomes our road map to success, guiding us toward the critical paths and deterring us from taking irrelevant forks and misleading junctions.
"Your goals are the road maps that guide you and show you what is possible for your life." – Les Brown
Goal setting is vital to achieving success. It has been proven in various research and studies, one of which is the Goal-Setting Theory (the 1960s-1990s). Backed by a 35-year study, this theory was based on the premise that conscious goals affect action. Setting goals makes our brain recognise them as a part of our future, which gives us the motivation and the drive to turn them into reality. Furthermore, Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham indicated that setting goals are linked to higher self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy, contributing more to success. They have identified the five principles that can improve our chances for success:
Have you ever heard of SMART goals? Yes, SMART is a mnemonic. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. When you set SMART goals, they become crystal clear. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don't just say you want to lose weight. Instead, say, "I want to lose three pounds in three weeks." Indicating how much and for how long you will target it, make it specific, measurable, and time-bound. Aiming to lose one pound per week is also achievable and realistic. In any case, you might be wondering, shouldn't you seek more? Can you aim higher? Read on to the following principle.
Challenge: Set Challenging Goals
Locke's research also found that the more complex a goal is, the more challenging people work for it. They observed that 90% of the time, challenging (but not too strenuous) goals led to higher performance than the easy ones. In addition, challenging goals are more motivating since they give a heightened sense of accomplishment for something they have worked on so hard. So yes, in setting your goals, you can aim higher, but make sure to do your research to make sure it remains realistic and attainable.
"Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you will land among the stars." – Les Brown
At this point, setting goals sound pretty easy. If you know what you want, you might be thinking that you have to make them clear and challenging, then start working on getting them, right? Right, but the commitment might be the hard part. So how do you stay committed? How do you fix your eye on the prize? It will sound ironic, but you will have to look back to where you started constantly. Your goals should have a higher purpose… a deeper meaning for you and the people around you. Your purpose and meaning will feed your drive and determination as you inch closer to your target. When you know what you want and how much you want it, the journey will be as fulfilling and gratifying as reaching the destination.
Telling someone you trust about your goals makes you feel more accountable to work for it consistently. You can also get feedback from this person, and it will help you assess whether or not you are on the right track. But you do not always have to tell somebody, especially if you don't feel comfortable. You can get feedback from your point of view if you have made your goals measurable. The numbers you have set and those you are getting would always glean your actual progress.
Goal setting does not need to be stressful. Soon enough, you will learn if you have set your goals too high or too challenging, they will feel daunting and overwhelming. You might find yourself veering away or procrastinating. Keep in mind to place your goals within the achievable and realistic range with just the right level of challenge to keep you on your toes.
"Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals and then work toward them every day will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor." –Brian Tracy
In 2016, Dr Gail Matthews, a psychology professor, established a strong connection between goal setting and success in her research. According to the study, goal achievement is greatly influenced by three key actions:
Having a goal in mind is not enough. You need to write it down. Putting it on paper makes it more concrete. As you write your goals, your skin feels the pen that marks the words on paper. Reading the words makes your eyes see tangibly what you want to happen. Why don't you turn it up a notch and read it out loud? Then, your mouth declares it to the universe, and it sounds like music to your ears. The more senses you involve in setting your goals, the better.
"Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants, can'ts into cans, dreams into plans, and plans into reality. Don't just think it – ink it!" – Michael Korda
As was defined above, goal setting is the process by which we achieve a goal. Let us emphasise the word process. When a goal is set, it will definitely involve a process. These may include strategies, training and action steps that will serve as a ladder to help you climb and reach that vision. Please pay attention to the process and make sure it is headed where you want it. Write your action steps in the form of a checklist. Every time you tick a box, you will get that solid sense of accomplishment. It will undoubtedly expedite the outcome.
To create a more substantial commitment and higher levels of accountability, tell a friend about your goals. Frequently update them on your progress. Matthews' research provides the evidence for the effectiveness of this coaching tool: accountability. Telling someone and writing a weekly report gave the participants the boost needed to get the job done. This last bit is the missing link for those who haven't experienced a goal-setting high. Find that someone who will increase the probability of your success!
For some of us who feel content or have a happy-go-lucky vibe, we might be thinking that setting goals might be stressful. But neuroscientists would have to disagree. Have you ever heard of the happy hormone called dopamine? Well, it also happens to be our achievement hormone. You see, our brain's functions are carried out by a cluster of chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. One of these is dopamine. Our body produces it, and our nervous system uses it to send messages between neurons or nerve cells. It plays a role in how we feel pleasure. Helping us focus, dopamine also sustains our attention to keep things interesting. It acts as a motivator and creates a sensation of satisfaction when we achieve something. Dopamine can keep us focused on our goals and elevate our mood whenever we achieve our goals. With the same hormone working, goal setting, not to mention the success that can be attained, can also bring forth happiness in the process.
But wait, there's more! Not only is goal setting backed by numerous studies and research, but a handful of famous personalities you might know also attests to the effectiveness of setting your goals:
A high school dropout and bankrupt at the age of 22, Walt Disney never gave up on his vision even when bankers and financers laughed at him. Today, Disney is the world's most famous name in family entertainment. The Disney franchise includes theme parks, movies, and merchandise worth billions of dollars.
Having been rejected for high school basketball for his short stature and being told he would never make it to professional basketball, Michael Jordan trained so hard. He constantly imagined his name in a professional locker room. After playing professionally for 15 years, winning six championships, and earning a salary of $90M, he is considered one of the NBA's greatest players of all time.
A single mother trying to make ends meet, Joanne Kathleen Rowling was a struggling writer. Despite her manuscript being rejected twelve times by publishers, she did not give up. She finally found a publisher who agreed to publish Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The series ended up selling over 500 million books worldwide. She was the first female to become a billionaire author.
Coming from an impoverished family, Oprah Winfrey wore a potato sackcloth as a child. Since she was young, she dreamed of speaking on stage and would often play like interviewing famous personalities. Today, she is best known for her talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show. She is also probably the most influential woman in the world.
Beyonce dreamed of becoming a total performer since she was a child. She became part of the girl group Destiny's Child. Even with the group landing record deals and best-selling albums, she pursued a solo career. Today, her hit songs and top-selling records are dominating the music industry.
"Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success." – Dale Carnegie
Those are inspiring! Did you notice how they all visualised their goals? I believe that visualisations and affirmations truly work! Visualisations guide your mind and create a blueprint for your subconscious to manifest into your reality. Remember that your thoughts are made up of energy, so where your attention goes, energy flows. Your mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. So when you imagine your ideal future, your mind believes it and takes you toward that reality. The same thing happens when you set and visualise your goals!
"Visualise your ultimate goal and do the work to make it happen." – Suzanne Somers
Setting goals, coupled with visualisation and affirmations, is a task each of us should practise and embrace. Determining what you want to achieve and finding out how to get there gives you the reason to continue even when facing challenging times. So start building your vision boards, write your goals, and recite your affirmations every day! The most important part is believing in all of it. Leave no room for doubt. Live as if you're already there. The forthcoming 2022 is the best time to set your goals for a new you in the New Year!
Are you ready to start your journey towards more happiness, love and abundance?
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