I don’t know about you but for me and a lot of other people the beginning of the year means reflecting back on our triumphs, failures and overall progress as a human. Usually this involves some self-loathing along with a vow about how this year is going to be different. It’s gonna be your year and you’re going to finally lose that weight, find your soul mate and kill it at work...unfortunately though statistics beg to differ and this year is going to be more or less the same as last year, the year before that, and the year before that. Harsh, I know but numbers don’t lie. Fortunately for you, there's one small, easy thing you can do to help you finally accomplish your goals and the best part, it’s super easy and free: just write them down.
First, let’s look at the numbers. One interesting study grouped 100 people into three different types; people with no clear or set goals (83%), people with a goal in mind (14%), and people with written down, established goal (3%). People with a goal in mind are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals and the people with written down goals are 30 times more likely to accomplish their goals when compared to those who have no clear set goal.*
The same pattern shows when setting New Year’s resolutions. Around 42% of the US population sets one of some sort but only 8% actually see their goals become a reality. Moreover, 71% of those who do set goals give up by January 15th. There’s plenty of reasons why these numbers are so high and why we don’t follow through with our goals; weak will power, not setting a clear deadline, being too vague or too easily discouraged, lacking focus, not knowing what you really want and using the wrong motives accomplish your goals are just a few.
Why even try since the odds are so stacked us you ask? Because what’s the alternative? Are you really going to stay in that shitty job you hate, keep living in that apartment with the neighbors you can’t stand, or driving that car you should’ve junked years ago? Are you really going to keep postponing your dreams and just keep coasting through life instead so you can avoid being uncomfortable for a little? Fuck no. You’re going to accept some responsibility, take control of your life, finally set some damn goals and you’re gonna follow through with them. Is it scary to make changes in life? Of course it is, but again what's more scary; having things stay exactly the same or the alternative of being uncomfortable for the short term but more satisfied long-term? That’s what I thought…
Here’s my easy, three step goal setting formula I’ve used to achieve my goals and hopefully it can help you accomplish yours.
Step 1: Write down your goals.
It may sound stupid but scientifically proven you’re more likely to achieve your goals if they’re written down. It doesn’t matter how long the list is or if the goals you’ve written down seem a little far-fetched. Don’t take out your phone or open your laptop, grab a pen and paper and physically write them down.
Step 2: Validate your goals.
Really think about your goals and make sure they are realistic, achievable, and constructive. Figure out what is motivating you to accomplish these things because sometimes we set goals for the wrong reasons and waste a whole bunch of time and energy trying to achieve them then we eventually abandon them because they’re stupid. If you’re motivation behind achieving a particular goal is fleeting so will your commitment to actually achieving it.
You have to be able to hold yourself accountable. We’ve all known it was a bad idea to have another beer but done it anyway and paid for it with a hangover the next day. The same concept applies here, you must acknowledge and take responsibility for your actions that have a negative impact on achieving your goal.
Step 3: Measure your goals.
Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure and that you are going to be able to commit to achieving your goals. Sure, we’d all love to be millionaires by tomorrow but that’s not a very realistic goal. A year from now, sure! Tomorrow? There’s a 99.9% chance that’s probably not gonna happen unless you win the lottery which again there’s also a 99.9% chance that’s probably not gonna happen.
Set up a realistic time-frame for when you’d like to achieve your goal. Big goal? Break it down into smaller, baby steps, mark them down and don’t forget to include periodic reality checks because shit happens. Only you know what you’re truly capable of achieving and the time-frame in which you can achieve something. Be honest with yourself, stay committed and don’t get discouraged when there’s a bump in your road.
Pretty simple right? I used this three step goal plan to accomplish getting my yellow belt in Krav Maga. When I first decided to accomplish this goal, I had been training for a few months. There is a 9 month minimum amount of time a person has to be training for in order to be able to take the yellow belt test. It was exactly 9 months I had been training on the day I was to take the yellow belt test. I was the least experienced person but it was something I had been working really hard to accomplish. There were plenty of times I wanted to give up and even questioned why I had started in the first place but as soon as my yellow belt was placed in my hands the feeling of accomplishment and how proud I was of myself completely washed away any trace I had of ever wanting to quit.
Achieving your goals is hard but with some intuitive thinking and a little planning you can accomplish them! This is why I wore one of my (limited run, currently unavailable) Die Epic shirts when I took my yellow belt test. Die Epic puts a goal tag on all of their products. Their goal tag is a dedicated spot on almost every single product for the wearer to write in what they'd like to achieve. So I scooped one up, wrote my goal into the goal tag, held myself accountable, truly committed, kept focus and the yellow belt was mine!
You’re going to get discouraged, disappointed and have set backs. You’re going to get frustrated, encounter obstacles and want to quit. Be resilient, be accountable and keep committed. I know you can do it because I’ve done it. Remember, the only thing worse than failing to accomplish your goals is never trying to achieve them in the first place.
*Goal setting statistics. (2017). YouTube. Retrieved 1 January 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOYTiNQzkxQ