One of my favorite self-authored articles (if I may pat myself on the back for a minute, bear with me) remains the one about science explaining why a staggering 92 percent of people never actually achieve their goals. Oh, and if you're curious, I also reveal how the other 8 percent actually manage to do it.
Like the best of humans, I fail to meet goals too. It leaves me frustrated coming home at the end of the day because when I left the house in the morning (with that "Eye of the Tiger" guitar riff playing in my head), my whole intention was to knock down the to-do list and seize the day.
That's why knowing how to set and meet goals, and sticking to the plan, is so key to your success.
How to Do It
Let me suggest an approach that works, if you work the approach like a boss. And yes, I'm taking a dose of my own medicine. Lets seize the day, month, or year together.
1. Be specific.
When you get up in the morning (hopefully around this time if you're serious about your personal productivity) to think about your goals for the day, be as exact as possible. People who set specific goals are much more likely to succeed. For example, instead of saying you want to spend less this week, month, or year, set a specific goal to save a desired amount per week, month, or year.
2. Write it down.
I know it's not 1991, but whatever goals you want to achieve, make sure to write it down and visibly post it the old-fashioned way somewhere in your workspace as a constant visual reminder every day. This is actually more effective than being digitally bombarded by notifications and alerts that go ignored (although you want to do this as well to reinforce accountability).
3. Reframe the words you use.
When you set your goals, are you using the right terms--more specifically, words or phrases--to keep things in its proper, bigger-picture context? For example, instead of thinking or writing down, "I will stop showing up to late to work or meetings," reword your goal in more positive terms that has long-term effects: "I will stop procrastinating and choose to manage myself better."
4. Set realistic goals.
When you think about setting goals, make sure that they are within your reach. Be mindful of your finances, schedule, and other personal matters. How many times have I "conveniently" forgotten about family needs and other priorities that weigh heavier, and, as a result, set unrealistic goals I could not manage to achieve? Yeah, been there, often.
5. Create an action plan.
Speaking of being realistic, you'll have a much easier time managing the process of completing your goal if you have put down the steps to get there. So create a timeline with those specific steps that will get you to the promised land. Set deadlines for each step and cross them off as you go. Sometimes just crossing things off and watching your list get smaller can be a huge boost--giving you a sense of accomplishment to keep going.
6. Believe in yourself.
Look, sometimes this whole business of achieving goals really comes down to "mindset." If it's a large, BHAG-type goal, you need to stay positive about the journey and look at the progress you've already made. Set good boundaries around a positive mindset by sharing your goal with a few close colleagues so they can cheer you on and help keep you on target.
7. Be resilient.
Setbacks can, and probably will, happen. When they do, don't get discouraged to the point of giving up. So many of us have the tendency of seeing things in black-and-white, and worse, our perfectionist tendencies to "win at all cost" sometime sabotage the process. So cut yourself some slack, accept your humanity, bounce back and keep going with a fresh new outlook.
8. Reward yourself, baby. You're worth it.
Acknowledge your achievements, even the small ones, and make sure to celebrate with those close to you. Reaching a goal takes hard work, and you should be proud of your efforts. Accept the praise and recognition that comes along with it; you deserve it.