Knowing how to achieve your goals can be a huge struggle. I’ve been there. My goal in life was to be a writer… or at least, that’s the answer I spewed whenever anyone asked. But this wasn’t a goal. I didn’t have a strategy. Neither had I defined my goal, or looked at any science-backed strategies to actually achieve it. I now believe that these are crucial to actually achieve your goals!
So, what do I mean by science-backed? I mean looking at data that shows us what actually works. I’ve included key research that will show you some crucial things you can do to give yourself the best chance of success in achieving your goals.
How to Achieve Your Goals
1. DEFINE YOUR GOALS
Everyone has dreams. In the past, when someone asked me what my goals were, I said, ‘oh, to be a writer.’ This might have sounded nice… but it isn’t a goal! It’s a vague dream or wish for something to happen without any actual plan to get there.
A goal is something concrete that you can actually work towards. How exactly am I planning on being a writer? What are the steps in this goal? How will I celebrate the small steps I take towards it?
Too often we have vague dreams that we just procrastinate on. There’s no actual time-frame or set steps identified, so it’s easier to stay in our normal routine. Maybe we produce excuses- we’ve got a lot going on, other things are the priority right now, or that your head space isn’t right for that at the moment.
To set a goal you need to:
- Chunk your Goal
- Define your Goal
- Know the Why of your Goal
- Create a Vision Board For Your Goal
- Get Your Motivation Sorted
- Celebrate the Small Steps
- Be Consistent
Read more about these steps: 7 Surefire Tips for Setting Goals You Will Actually Achieve
And the science behind goal-setting? Research has established a strong connection between goal-setting and success. Locke and Lathan, 2006 linked setting goals with higher motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence and autonomy.
2. VISUALIZE IT
Visualization can have a powerful impact on how you can achieve your goals. Your imagination is an amazing tool, but it can be used either positively or negatively. Your thoughts can translate into action- they are important!
This study looked at the impact of mental rehearsal on basketball players taking free throw shots. The players were split into three groups. The first group practiced free throws everyday for an hour. The second group just visualized themselves making free throws. The third group did nothing.
And the results? The group who practiced improved by 24%. The second group, who visualized, improved by 23%- without actually touching a basketball. The third group, who neither practiced or visualized, did not improve. Image if you do both the practice and use visualization- your results will be multiplied!
How can you use visualization to achieve your goals?
Create a detailed mental picture of your desired outcome. Use all of your senses. Visualize how achieving this goal would actually look and feel. Put yourself in the picture. And remember that it isn’t a one-time thing. You need to do it more than once. When you use visualization, you are training your brain by creating new pathways!
It sounds a little weird, but actually seeing your results like this can help you to achieve it. You are telling your brain that it’s possible, and showing it how to get there. This will also help you to stay positive and even create internal motivation to keep pursuing your goal.
3. UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF GRIT
Grit can be described as mental toughness. Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has identified grit as a key factor in how to achieve your goals.
In her research, grit was a bigger factor in achieving success than intelligence, talent, health or looks. She conducted research across different ages and careers, competitions, and training programs. She found that those who demonstrated grit had the biggest rate of success.
So what is grit? Dr. Duckworth describes it as passion and perseverance. But it’s not just about having these in short bursts, it’s about the long-term. Grit is having the stamina to be consistent and to keep going every single day. It’s about developing strong daily habits that over time (not just days, weeks or months) are more likely to lead to success than talent or IQ.
When I read this, it honestly blew my mind! It stripped away my excuses of not achieving success because I’m not talented or gifted enough. Learning to be consistent is a major factor in figuring out how to achieve goals.
How to Develop Grit
So what does this mean for you? When you have defined and visualized your goals, you then need to stick with it! Believe in your future enough to keep moving towards it.
Another way to say it is this: live life like a marathon, not a sprint. But maybe this quote says it best:
Rome wasn’t built in a day… but a brick was laid every hour.
4. GET YOUR MINDSET RIGHT
Everything that I’ve said so far is actually really simple… but it’s also tough!
To know how to achieve your goals, you will need to know how to get your mindset into the right space. This becomes even more crucial when you face setbacks and failure. Even just a lack of results can be so demotivating. I’m the kind of person that wants results yesterday! But this attitude can be detrimental to success when you remember that grit (consistency and perseverance) is a key indicator of success.
One of the best ways to develop grit and a resilient mindset is to have a GROWTH MINDSET. This idea comes from powerful research by Dr. Carol Dweck. She has been researching the impact of a growth mindset for over 30 years, and the results are life-changing!
A Growth Mindset refers to the belief that people’s traits and abilities can grow and be developed. This means putting the emphasis and effort into learning, developing and improving. It’s understanding that there is always room to grow and not seeing failure as permanent, but as a learning opportunity.
Why have a Growth Mindset?
Having a Growth Mindset removes the need to constantly prove yourself by your results. Instead it’s about knowing that you are on a journey- you have the ability to cultivate and develop your traits and qualities through your effort.
The impact of this is enormous- it creates a passion for learning and growing. It takes away the fear of failure and setbacks and it allows you to take risks without fear of the consequences. It means that you are free to love challenges and see them as an opportunity for growth, not fear them in case they expose your failure.
All of these are vital in learning how to achieve your goals!
5. BE ACCOUNTABLE
Being accountable to your goals is an important step in achieving your goal. There are two ways that you can do this. You can be accountable to yourself, and you can be accountable to someone else.
Be Accountable to Yourself
To be accountable to yourself, I’d recommend writing everything down with time-frames for each step of your goal. Set a day to review this and to change if you need to. Commit to sticking with the strategy you’ve planned until you reach the review date. It will help you to keep going when you know that there is an end-point.
For example, you could decide to try your strategy for 24 weeks. This will give you enough time to determine whether it’s manageable, what needs to change, and whether you’re starting to see results. At this point you can adjust as needed. When you see how you’ve successfully completed six months and progressed towards achieving your goal, then you will feel motivated and energized to continue.
Put incentives in place to motivate you to stick to the time-frames you’ve planned. It’s important to celebrate the small successes as well as the big ones. And it’s a lot of fun deciding what your rewards will be!
Have an Accountability Partner
The American Society of Training Development found that defining a goal (planning the what, when, and how) gave a success rate of 50%.
However, making a commitment to someone else to follow through on the goal brought this up to 65%.
Furthermore, having at least one meeting with an accountability partner brought the success up to 95%! This shows that having an accountability partner can almost double your odds of achieving your goal, and moreover, that achieving your goal is nearly guaranteed.
These are amazing odds. It means that having an accountability partner could be incredibly worthwhile if you are serious about figuring out how to achieve your goals. You can find an accountability partner for any kind of goal- so why not put this powerful strategy to work?
And that’s it!
These are five powerful ways to achieve your goals that are science backed and data driven. Knowing how these strategies will increase your success in achieving your goal is motivating. It also makes sure that you are using your time and effort well instead of pouring it into strategies that don’t work and won’t lead to results.
If you are serious about figuring out how to achieve your goals, why not utilize these powerful strategies and achieve success in what you have set out to do?
You might also enjoy:
- 4 Awesome Ted Talks That Will Show You How to Get Stuff Done
- 3 Vital Areas For Adults to Develop a Growth Mindset and Unlock Potential
- How to be Successful in Life: It’s Simpler Than You Think!
- 5 Powerful Secrets For How to Live in the Present
Comment and let me know what works for you in achieving your goals. Please also share this post if you enjoyed it- every share helps!
Thanks for reading!