The Last Damn Thing You'll Ever Need To Read About Setting And Achieving Goals

marathon ING finish line

Huh? Set goals? Why?

  • Setting goals can improve your life. Goal setting is one of the four techniques the military used to increase Navy SEAL passing rates from 25% to 33%.
  • Studies have also shown it makes you happier.

 How do you set goals?

  • Initially, the research says, aim high. Set ambitious goals. (But later on down the road don’t be afraid to settle to be happy.)
  • Keeping goals vague sometimes produces higher rates of success but being specific will prevent procrastination.
  • Structure your goals so that the focus is to learn and improve, not to outdo someone else. The former helps you grow. The latter can turn you into a jerk.
  • Make sure your goals are aligned to optimise happiness.
  • If you really have no idea what you want, imagine your funeral. In his famous Stanford commencement speech Steve Jobs said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” And science agrees with him.

What are the first steps in moving toward your goals?

  • Write them down. Writing about goals makes you happier and makes you more likely to follow through with them. Use round numbers to trick yourself into working harder.
  • Sometimes the best way to figure out how to do something is to focus on why you want to do something.
  • Grease the wheels for any behaviour change by manipulating your context.
  • Don’t look at goals like a death march. Putting some time into making them fun is both more enjoyable and more effective.
  • Make the first couple milestones easy. Track your accomplishments on a chart. Do anything so that you can see progress because nothing motivates you more than seeing progress.

How do I keep going and not give up?

  • Use checklists to make sure you’re accomplishing everything. They work. And depending on your goal sometimes you don’t need a “to-do list”, you need a “not to-do list.”
  • Do NOT fantasize about achieving your goal. That’s eating dessert first and saps motivation. Thinking about what you have to do to prepare for a challenge was more likely to lead to success than imagining the victory.
  • The secret to avoiding goal-induced stress is more planning. This reduces random factors that can throw a wrench into things and knock you off course.
  • You can measure progress by how much you’ve completed or how much you have left to do. Research says you’ll be more motivated if you focus on whichever of those two is smaller.
  • Understand the steps to expert performance. Keep in mind the lessons from Daniel Pink’s excellent book on the science of motivation, Drive. Know the techniques the Army uses to instill mental toughness.

What are 5 things that make achieving goals easier?

  1. Make a step-by-step plan.
  2. Tell other people about your goal.
  3. Think about the good things that will happen if you achieve your goal.
  4. Reward yourself for making progress toward your goal.
  5. Record your progress (e.g., in a journal or on a chart).

What are 5 things that don’t work when it comes to goals?

  1. Motivate yourself by focusing on someone that you admire for achieving so much (e.g., a celebrity role model or great leader).
  2. Think about the bad things that will happen if you don’t achieve your goal.
  3. Try to suppress unhelpful thoughts (e.g., avoid thinking about eating unhealthy food or smoking).
  4. Rely on willpower.
  5. Fantasize about how great your life will be when you achieve my goal.

More tips here. 

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