These tools make it easier to achieve your goals
How to Reach Your Goals
by Pam Hutzler
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How to Reach Goals
If we are honest, most of us would admit that there are things about our lives that we'd like to change. And, that we set goals but don't know how to reach them. Maybe you want to lose weight, make more money, establish a sizable emergency fund, pay off credit card debt or buy a house? Maybe you have a fitness goal like you want to run your first marathon next year. That's great! It's important to have goals. But, it's not enough to just have a goal. Success comes in reaching goals, which is a lot more difficult than just setting them. How many times have you made a goal only to give up on it a few short weeks later? Consider this year's resolutions that were ditched by February 1st. The sad truth is that building new habits and behaviors on the road to achieving goals is hard. Life often gets in the way. But, there's hope. It's time to put your goals into actions. They say that it takes 21 days to establish a habit. So, let's give it our best for one month and see where our efforts take us. Here are a few tools that will show you how to reach your goals.
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Take Baby Steps Towards Your Goal!
Creighton Abrams is credited with saying, "When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time." Let's say that your elephant is losing 50 pounds. That's a big elephant and it can be quite easy to forsake the elephant when facing an extra-large cheese pizza or a quarter pounder with the works. So, maybe your weight loss goal will be easier if it's broken down into "manageable bites." For instance, starting today (never put off until tomorrow what you can do today), you're going to take two 15-minute walks per day. Or, maybe you can't commit to twice daily activity but you can commit to giving up fast food lunches for homemade, healthful sack lunches. When working towards a goal, it's important to remember that it's a process. Whatever your goals may be, break it into small, manageable pieces. If you set your standard too high, you'll get discouraged and quit. Going back to the weight loss example, make small lifestyle changes that will end up giving you big results in the end and rejoice in each and every pound that comes off. If you only focus on the 50, you'll lose sight of one or two pounds that you lose each week.
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Keep an Eye on the Big Picture
People often give up on goals when a slip occurs. It's okay to slip. It happens. After all, we are human. What's important is that you pick yourself up after a slip and get your focus back on the goal and the big picture. Maybe you blew your diet at a birthday party this weekend. The desserts were more than you could withstand. It's okay. Don't give up on yourself. Do an extra workout and start fresh today. Every day is a new opportunity to do your best.
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Team Up with Another Goalsetter
Great things can be accomplished when you find someone to team up with. Whether your goal is weight loss, running your first marathon, or paying off debt, you're likely to have more success if you're accountable to another person. Accountability is not the only perk to teamwork. You'll also have someone to encourage and support you on down days. So, if your goal is to run a marathon next summer, find a running partner that will stick with you until you cross the finish line. Or if you want to lose a few pounds, consider joining a weight watchers meeting where you'll find like-minded people with similar goals.
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Pat Yourself on the Back
Let's say your goal is to save $1,200 in a year. That goal can easily be broken down into saving $100 per month. Instead of waiting until you've saved $1,200 to celebrate your success, learn to celebrate each month that you've saved $100 and pat yourself on the back for your accomplishment. Or if you really like to celebrate, congratulate yourself every day that you skip the fancy $3.50 designer coffee and stash the cash instead. After all, you're one day closer to your $1,200 goal. Every time you reach a small goal on the road to success, reward yourself. Take pride in what you've done and look forward to reaching the next goal. Small, mini-rewards are the easiest way to stay motivated.
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Make Your Goal Visual
If something is out of sight, it's often out of mind. No matter what your goal may be, if you keep it active and visible, you'll be less likely to forego your efforts. Maybe you want to run your first 5k this spring. That's a great goal, but with a busy life, it can be easy to forget to run. So, what's a person to do? Keep your goals and successes in front of you. Get a large wall calendar and track your success. Note on the calendar the days that you ran and the distance you knocked out. Maybe you'll want to note anything memorable that happened during your run or the climate of the day to keep it interesting.
If your goal is saving a certain amount of money for a vacation, grab a large poster board and draw an empty jar on the board. As you incrementally save money for your vacation, fill in your jar in anticipation of the day you completely fill your jar and begin your vacation plans. Visualize the progress you are making. Be sure to tack your visual aid up in a prominent place to keep your motivation focused.
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Talk It Out
Take a few minutes to look online and you'll quickly find that there are support groups for just about everything imaginable. There's a reason for that. The truth is that life is a little easier when we are able to share our feelings and thoughts with others. This truth also applies to achieving goals. If you prefer some anonymity, consider joining an online support group or begin to write your own blog. No matter where it may be for you, you should find a safe place to share your thoughts and feelings as you continue down the road to achieving your goals.
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Take Time to Dream
Imagine what your life will be like once you reach your goal. Visualize it happening, and you are more likely to succeed. Envision your thinner body on a summer beach or crossing the finish line of the coveted race or even making the last payment that will eliminate your credit card debt. Yes, you want to celebrate small accomplishments along the way, but it's also important to dream about your end result. Let your dream become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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You've Got This!
Most importantly, you need to see that you are valuable and worthy of goals and dreams. While taking care of others and life in general is important, it's also important to take care of you. And, there's no better way to do that than to strive for and achieve goals that will make you happier and healthier along your life's journey.
Take the Next Step:
- Find out: Could your goal setting actually be harming your financial future?
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