When it comes to goals, setting attainable goals is what we’re after. We wouldn't realistically or wholeheartedly go after them otherwise.
We most certainly wouldn't put in the work and effort needed if we didn't believe within ourselves that we could reach them.
There is plenty of advice floating around out there for goal setting, but all in all we have found it to be a bit lacking. It's not that it is bad advice, per say, but it tends to result in goals that are too open and vague, or far too specific.
Again, a lot of what is out there can be quite helpful, and has its place in specific instances. However, when it comes to almost anything we do around here, we like to take a more holistic approach.
The Problems With Traditional Goal Setting Advice
Like we had mentioned above, when it comes to traditional goal setting advice, most of the problems stem from the goals being too vague or too specific .
For example, too vague might look and sound something like this:
My Goal is
- to be happier
- to get fit
- to have a million dollars
- to have more free time
- to travel more
- to get a new car
So what are some issues with these goals? For starters, they tend to be arbitrary. Also, they are not very clear.
You want health and happiness? Well what does that even look like for you? An even better question you might ask yourself is why you want it?
Look beyond what the goal is at the surface and start to explore your deeper motives.
So what might goals that are too specific look like?
I'm sure you've heard of what are known as SMART goals. This stands for:
As you can see, this is a much better approach to setting attainable goals than being too vague. This system is a fantastic resource for goal setting when it comes to business performance, sales, work objectives, or repetitive tasks.
The problem arises when we try to use this method on our life goals overall.
One weakness is that it tends to put all the focus on the achievement and end result, while overlooking the personal development gained along the way. It can take attention away from who you have to become in your pursuit because it is too process focused.
Setting Attainable Goals
So what does setting attainable goals even look like?
How we set attainable goals is, again, a holistic approach. You are getting to the root of your why, and how it relates to your overall lifestyle design.
Also, it is being aware that the journey is the destination. Realizing steps in that direction is the success. Even if you 'fail' you still win because of the knowledge, insight, and progress gained.
Taking all of this into account, we’ve come up with 3 Tips (more specifically 3 Focus Areas) for Setting Attainable Goals. These include your Mindset, Personal Growth, and Habits.
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1. Mindset: Seeing The Image
Your mindset encompasses several areas. For one, your mindset and your self image go hand in hand. Being aware of how you see yourself and how you treat yourself is a lot of what makes up your self image.
Accurately seeing who you are (having self-awareness) as well as where you are at currently, in relation to where you want to be, is going to help you tremendously on the path to setting attainable goals. Being able to first see yourself as the person who has already accomplished the goal is key.
Having the right mindset requires attention to your attitude and your motives.
Having a healthy attitude will build up and create a positive self image. A lot of your attitude comes from how you see the world, which starts with how you see and talk to yourself.
If you find yourself saying things like 'I always mess that up' or 'I can't get it right' or anything else of the sort, it is time to examine and change the image you hold of yourself.
This starts by having a different conversation. Catching yourself when you start to react in this matter is the first step in self-awareness, and once you begin to notice it, you can shift it.
As you develop the ability to shift your self talk, you can now talk and behave as the person who achieves the goals they set. You can mold your self image into this person through your awareness, your attitude, and the language you use.
This is where you examine your why. What are your true intentions?
Most people think they know what they want, and why they want it. However, if we start to dig a bit deeper we usually find there's more to it than what is seen on the surface.
If you find that your intentions are springing from a place of vanity, a desire to gain approval from or to impress others, it may be necessary to reevaluate your motives. There is a good chance if you achieve the goal, you will end up feeling unfulfilled.
This is why having your motives driven by your personal values is imperative.
When setting attainable goals, also consider the vision you hold for yourself. Continually think in terms of the bigger picture. It’s about fitting your goals into your overall lifestyle design.
A great resource I would recommend for understanding the self-image and how it affects all areas of your life (including your goals) is a book called Psycho Cybernetics.
2. Personal Growth: Gathering The Resources
All goals are achieved through the process of personal growth. You have to grow in strength, knowledge, and resources for a goal to be achievable.
However, it’s also necessary to keep in mind that the journey is the destination. Each step that you are making towards your goal is an achievement in itself. You are growing and learning all along the way.
Another component of personal growth is being 'solutions focused' rather than 'problems focused'. As you grow & improve yourself, you will start finding ways to address and overcome obstacles on the way to realizing your goals.
Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.
Start to see personal growth as a lifelong process. If you’re following traditional goal setting advice and don't reach your goal by the target date, you might feel as if you failed.
This can be discouraging if you are too hung up on the specifics and not looking at all the growth you've accomplished.
There are no ending dates or plateaus. No constant ups and downs of setting and achieving. You’re just always focused on improvement.
The Success Principles is our recommended resource for personal growth. It encompasses the fundamentals of success for all areas of your life.
3. Habits: Putting It All Into Action
Once you’ve developed the right mindset and clarified your self-image, you are ready for action.
Understanding that personal growth is the way forward makes it easier to get started, because each step you take is a success in itself.
The reason we focus on habits is that even small, simple, seemingly insignificant disciplines will compound into massive results over time.
Take a look at one of your goals. What small steps could you take towards it each day?
For example, if you have a weight loss or fitness goal, could you:
- add a few minutes of movement into your day
- stretch for a few minutes before bed
- reduce your meal portions by 10%
Those types of simple changes will create more progress over time than a 2 hour Saturday morning fitness boot-camp. They will also be easier to build into your daily routine, and you’ll be more likely to stay consistent.
You can still take big steps towards your goal, of course, but the idea is that taking consistent daily actions is the key to reaching your goals.
The Slight Edge is a book I would definitely recommend if you want to explore this topic further. It completely changed my perspective on 'simple' daily actions.
Like we had mentioned at the beginning, a holistic approach to attainable goals will help set you up to reach them. More importantly it creates balance.
Once you have gained clarity on a particular goal and why you would like to achieve it, the main hurdle to overcome is the image you hold of yourself in relation to the goal.
Trying to fit your goals into a potentially distorted image you hold of yourself will more than likely not play out very well (or you will not hold onto said goal for very long).
Your self image must be addressed and dealt with before setting attainable goals can be possible.
Bringing your mindset in line through positive self talk will cultivate a healthy self image. A positive self image inspires action for personal growth, and consistent habits tie it all together.
Through extensive trial and error, this is the formula that we have found to work the best for us. It's a journey of constant and never ending improvement.
So what do you see keeping you from moving forward and reaching your goals?
If you are feeling stuck, or if the formula above feels a bit daunting to tackle on your own, I would recommend checking out this video course from Mind Body Green. It walks you through the goal setting process, step by step: The Art of Living with Purpose
About The Author
Krissy is a part-time blogger who writes on a variety of topics including: health & fitness, mindful living, interior design, fashion, and travel.