How to set goals and stick to them
In my previous post I talked about shifting the focus in terms of goals to defeat the cycle of falling off or losing motivation. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to goals is sticking to them. What I’ve recently learned in researching about goals, goal setting and sticking to them is that we often fall off track because of our focus and our plan, or lack thereof. Those are two key ingredients in setting and sticking to goals. In an article about success in lifestyle changes, James Clear talked about the importance of developing habits which can be applied achieving goals. But in order to develop habits we must first create a new identity. You’re probably thinking, huh? because I was too, just hang on. He says that,
the key to building lasting habits is focusing on creating a new identity first. Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a mirror image of the type of person you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself.
Interesting right? I thought so too… So before we even get started on the action steps (or this could be an action step) we have to change what we think or believe about ourselves. Most of our goals are performance based goals like losing weight, reading the bible more, spending more time with family or friends, cooking more healthy meals, etc. He’s suggesting that in order to reach those performance goals we must first develop identity-based habits. What you believe about yourself will manifest on the outside. If you believe that you are lazy, but your goal is to lose weight how will you reach that goal? To change your belief you must first decided the type of person you want to be and then prove it to yourself with small steps. In one of my past devotionals I talked about how when you’re desiring to make changes you have to change your footing, this is very similar. If there is a change that you desire you have to take on this new identity of a person who can and will achieve.
For example, for someone who wants to eat healthy they have to become the type of person who eats balanced meals of fruits and vegetables daily. Then take daily small steps, like grabbing an apple or carrots for a snack instead of cookies, that prove to themselves that they are that person.
When setting your goals this time around, try basing those goals on the person you want to become instead of the performance level you want to achieve.
How to Stick to Your Goals
So now that we have established how to set goals, let’s talk about how to stick to them. I’ve always been a stickler for writing things out and then have watched things that I have written down happen – sometimes EXACTLY as they were written. But it goes deeper than just writing down your goals or your to-dos for the year. You’ve got to get specific!
Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success. People who explicitly state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals. (James Clear)
This is basically saying that when writing out your goals establish when and where you will take the specific action steps to achieve those goals. Using our example earlier of eating healthy, the action step you would take to achieve that goal would be eating an apple with your breakfast at your desk every morning between 9-10 am. Or for me my specific actions with exercise is, exercise 4 mornings out of the week from 5-6 am using my workout plan from my trainer. The idea is to get as specific as possible to help create habit. I learned that it can also be helpful to write out a plan B by using “if-then”. This will help you have a backup plan if the first one isn’t achieved. Like if I eat Chick-fil-a for breakfast, then I’ll have a salad for lunch; or if I don’t work out Monday, then I will work out Tuesday-Friday. This strategy gives you a clear plan for overcoming unexpected things that occur in your day and can help keep you on track with your goals and action steps.
So, we’ve said a lot here! Let me sum it all up and break it down for you. Once you’ve established your goals (with the help of God of course), then:
- Decide the type of person you want to be
- Establish small realistic steps you can take each day
- Write down specifically how you will take those steps including when and where
- If life happens, establish a plan B and write it out
- Slay those goals!!!
This can be applied to all your goals, including the God goals (previous post). Make this your best year yet! Let me know below your thoughts, some of your habits that have helped you in the past and/or what you plan to do differently this year!