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Setting Goals and Sticking to a Plan

By Audrey Thomas, CSP a.k.a. Organized Audrey

Goals. They come in all shapes and sizes and fall under different timelines. They can be physical, mental, spiritual, career, financial or relationship-driven. The benefits of setting a goal include focus and direction; and the cost includes spending resources such as time, money and energy.

Setting a goal is one thing. But knowing how you’re going to achieve it is what will keep you moving forward in reaching it. Here are seven strategies when setting and working toward a goal.

  1. Keep it simple and realistic. Your goals need to reflect your current skill level as well as time and resources. It’s doubtful you’ll be fluent in Spanish if your trip to Mexico is in a month. You, could, however, learn 5-8 key phrases before you leave.
  2. Be specific. Instead of a general statement of wanting to get more fit, have a goal that can be measured, such as “I want to eat four servings of fruits and vegetables each day” or “I want to average 8,000 steps each day.”
  3. Write it down. Once you know what it is you want to accomplish and why you’re doing it, write it down. Record it on your calendar, in a journal, in the margin of a book that may have been the inspiration for the goal. Writing down your goals makes them harder to ignore and add accountability, even if it’s just between you and a piece of paper.
  4. Assign a completion date. Once you’ve written your goal down, jot a due date next to it. It’s also important to keep in mind length of time required to reach your goal. Is your goal something that can be accomplished in just a few days such as paint the living room or does it represent something that could possibly take years such as earning a degree? Regardless, all goals need a timeline; without one, it will be too easy to give up and forgo your original plans.
  5. Partner up. Whether it’s a family member, co-worker or mentor, having someone to share your journey with will be encouraging as well as offer a layer of accountability. Choose someone who is non-judgmental and can provide positive reinforcement along the way.
  6. Get help from technology. Technology is with us wherever we go so why not put it to work to help you reach your goal? A few highly-rated apps include: Coach.me (formerly Lift), The Habit Factor and HabitMaster. Some include the option of joining an online group of other people with similar goals which provides an added layer of accountability and encouragement.
  7. Choose a reward and prepare to celebrate. Having something to look forward to – whether big or small – is not only fun but often serves as the motivator to keep going. If you’re working toward something big over many months or even years, make sure you celebrate your successes along the way.

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