Let's start by being honest: starting our goals is easy, but achieving our goals is not.
That's why the majority of the population have never achieved their New Year's resolutions, and probably never will in their entire life.
In fact, a survey cited in the Huffington Post went as far as saying only 8% of the population follow through with their New Years intentions.
That means 92% (#mathskills) of people straight up fail, year after year, never achieving the things they so desperately want to do.
Moral of this post? Don't be the 92%.
WHY MOST GOALS DON'T WORK
Goals start with the mind, and the mind is a difficult thing to change.
Just think about politics, opinions, and religion. Have you ever tried changing someone's mind about any of those things?
Probably didn't have much luck, did you?
Have you ever tried changing your own mind about any of those things? I'm guessing you didn't flip a switch the moment someone told you to change your religious or political views. Sure listening was easy, believing is not.
Right or wrong, you've mentally convinced and accustomed yourself to those characteristics throughout your entire life. It's going to take more than a word and promise to change them now.
The same goes for your daily habits.
For example, if you've spend your entire life eating poorly, you are going to find it difficult to simply star eating only lettuce and natural protein every day for the rest of your life, starting now. Sure it might seem easy on day one, but after a couple weeks, I'm guessing you've given in (admit it, we have all tried it).
Until you have the right mindset and strategy in place, you'll never change your actions and hit your goals. Massive changes don't always equal massive results.
WHY GOALS HAVE TO START WITH HABITS
The best way to keep that long term goal? Whether it is financial, health, or personally related, is to start with small actionable, changes.
Turn these "changes" into habits, and turn those habits into goals.
The great Aristotle once said that
"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit"
That's right, a habit.
Everything you are trying to change right now, is probably a habit. Eating those candy bars? A habit.
Now you have to replace that habit with a better one. That's the key.
It may sound easy, but I think it is pretty obvious just how much it isn't.
This is primarily because habits take a long time to break, and an even longer time to form.
A survey from the University College London has found that the average length of time it takes a person to form a new habit is between 18 and 265 days. That's quite the variability. However, the moral is that even with the easiest habit, and the most disciplined person, we can still expect it to take over 3 weeks for changes to become more natural.
For most people, I'm guessing it will take closer to 265 days before their habits truly turn into long term lifestyle changes.
5 STEP PLAN to Start Achieving Your Goals
Because habits are so difficult to follow, it's important to have a plan. Therefore, when you are about to throw in the towel, be sure to refer to these changes.
1. FIND YOUR MOTIVES AND WRITE IT DOWN
Your motives have to be strong. To determine your motives, grab a pen and pencil and ask yourself a few of these questions (yes you have to write the answers down!)
- Why do you want to set this goal?
- When do you need to achieve it by?
- How would you feel if you knew you were going to fail this goal?
- How will your life improve if you achieve this goal?
Have a vision, and remember that vision.
Reinforce it with visuals. Looking to improve that body? Grab a magazine clipping of those abs you want to develop. Want a more organized house? Find some Pinterest images and save them somewhere you can reference them everyday.
Start working that "dopamine" hormone. Let it start desiring your goals, instead of your unwanted habits.
If you don't feel like doing those things, than start reconsidering how much you want to accomplish that goal. If you don't have the drive, save yourself the disappointment and throw it out.
Time and effort are too valuable to be wasted on things you don't have passion for.
2. TAKE THOSE GOALS AND BREAK THEM DOWN INTO ACTIONS
You may have heard of this as "macro goals and micro quotas", but it's simply breaking down your goals into smaller, more attainable steps.
The idea is that one small habit leads to another small habit, and another, and another, until you ultimately reach your end goal.
Feelings of success become addicting, and these feelings will start driving your actions.
For example, a while back I wanted to improve my health. I was putting on weight and not happy with my appearance, energy level, or my attitude towards food. So like most of America does, I set out to improve my appearance and health.
I took it in steps. I started with intermittent fasting, which eventually led to treadmill walking, which led to weight lifting 2-3 days a week, which led to weigh lifting 5 days a week, which led to watching my nutrition for better gains.
I've been lifting weights 4 to 5 days a week for nearly a year now and Intermittent fasting for 18 months. This was something I was never able to stick to before.
Interesting how small actionable steps turn into long-term changes. Start simple and progress.
3. REDUCE NEGATIVE STIMULI
Figure out what has, or possibly could deter you from achieving your goals.
- If it's food, remove it.
- If it's conditioning, avoid them.
- If it's people, cut ties.
There will always be things that "trip us up" but we DO have the power to reduce these things.
If you really want to attain your goals, stop tempting yourself with the things you know will hinder your progress.
As for people, the saying goes:
"you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with"
Will these people help support you in your goals? Will they keep you accountable?
4. Learn What Keeps You Motivated
During step one, I had you write down and collect items that motivated you to achieve your goals.
They are there for reference. Mindset is everything, and remembering why you wanted to achieve your goals in the first place can make the difference between achieving them or giving in to the first temptation you come across.
Because I know the power that visuals and public figures can have on people's mindset, I've compiled a list of places you can find motivation. Keep these on hand.
Instagram: There is motivation everywhere on Instagram. Whether it be health, fitness, career, family, or relationships, you can find accounts that will inspire you. Best of all, many of these influencers will gladly answer your questions and give you support (as long as what you are asking is reasonable). Don't be shy, they are only humans, too.
Pinterest: Just like Instagram, you can find blogs on nearly any personal development topics you can think of. Many of these are personal success stories, which can provide tremendous motivation. Bookmark your favorite, and don't be afraid to reread them.
Old photos: If it's health-related, unflattering photos of yourself can be particularly effective. However, this can apply to anything that reminds you of why you wanted to accomplish this goal in the first place.
Notes from Step 1: Everything I had you write down in the first step? Keep it on hand. Save it to your smartphone.
Inspirational Books: There are some incredibly inspirational books. Whether it be starting a business, improving your life, or being a better person, finding a book that can discuss and improve your habits is worth both the investment.
Instead of sitting down and watching that nightly TV show, pick up a book and better yourself.
Friends & Family Who Inspire You: It's OK to have people to look up to. Reach out to them, and ask for their help as you set out to achieve your own goals.
Listen to Podcasts: Apple Podcasts can be a great way to find motivating make your road trips go by much faster. Instead of mindlessly listening to the radio, why not download some motivational podcasts that will fuel your brain and your goals?
5. TRACK, REWARD, AND REPEAT
Monitor your "quotas". Acknowledging these small achievements are crucial when developing a habit. Got your steps in today? Track and reward. Ate a salad instead of the fries? Track and reward. Made it to work early? Track and reward.
When I say "reward" I don't mean cheat on your goal, I mean pat yourself on the back. If you've achieved a bigger accomplishment, treat yourself to a surprise, a massage, or a night out on the town. DON'T COMPROMISE YOUR GOALS. Don't reward your diet coherence with a cookie (I think you get the point).
Just make sure you remember what "success" feels like, so you keep wanting more of it.
Then repeat. Keep hitting those micro quotas. These micro quotes will turn into habits, these habits will turn into lifestyle changes, and these lifestyle changes will mean that you reached your goals.
Make sure to evaluate the things you do that work and the things that don't work.
Most importantly, don't give up with one mess up.
Let me know what your goals are below, also if there is any advice you'd like to share!
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So Pinterest finally worked out for me. Yes, you read the title right: 1,500 blog pageviews, all thanks to Pinterest. This is completely new and unique stratety that includes using Google! #pinterest #pintereststrategy