When New Year’s Day rolls around each year, many people take time to step back and evaluate how their lives are going. Whether personally or professionally, some may choose to set goals that allow them to improve in some way.
Setting attainable goals can give you that feeling of accomplishment any day of the year — from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Here are three valuable tips for setting and achieving your goals.
Set a SMART Goal
If you set a goal for yourself that doesn’t seem realistic, you may end up not feeling motivated to complete it. By setting a SMART goal, you can give yourself goals that help you move in the direction that’s right for you. SMART stands for:
- Specific: Your goal needs to be clear. What exactly do you want to achieve; how are you going to achieve it; and why do you want to achieve it? Setting a goal that’s vague and not specific is usually not successful.
- Measurable: Make a goal that allows you to see your progress. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? If it’s something measurable, you can measure your progress as you take courses.
- Attainable: Setting a reachable goal is a key to your success. If your goal isn’t realistic, you’re not going to feel motivated to do it. Can you climb Mount Everest two months from now if you’ve never climbed a mountain before? You have to give yourself something you can achieve —maybe something like running a 5K three months from now if you begin training today.
- Relevant: Does your goal seem worthwhile, and will your time be best spent trying to reach it? You also need to make sure it fits with your current life situation. If you’re aiming for a certain position at work, does it seem to align with your qualifications?
- Timely: Give yourself a time limit. If you want to get a degree in two years, set that limit, and stick to it. If you have a time goal, you know when you need to get things done and how quickly to complete them.
Visualize Yourself Reaching Your Goals
Visualization is an important part of breaking through obstacles. It’s a strategy often used by athletes, but if you’re serious about attaining a goal, work on picturing yourself after it is reached. What does your life look like? What do you look like? According to Entrepreneur, this technique was successfully used by people like Muhammad Ali, Jim Carrey and Michael Jordan.
In a study published by the National Institutes of Health, researchers found that mental exercises are almost as successful as physical exercises, and doing both resulted in greater success. Combine visualization with meditation to help you focus on your goals.
Some tips to remember when visualizing are:
- Spend around 10 to 15 minutes each day visualizing your goals. Are you working on getting a new degree? Visualize what it will be like when you walk across that stage and get your degree. Will your family be in the stands cheering you on? How happy will you feel?
- Make your visualization detailed and vivid. Don’t just picture one or two major things — picture the details as well. Here’s an idea: If your goal is to earn your degree, visualize where you’ll hang your degree in your home or office.
- Integrate visualizing into your daily routine. If it becomes part of your day to visualize, you won’t forget about it.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
Negative thoughts can impede you from reaching goals. If you tell yourself things like “I can’t do this,” or “This is too hard,” you’re only hurting your goal process. Instead, work on integrating positive phrases into your mind by:
- Silencing negativity. We’re all bound to have negative thoughts from time to time, but don’t ruminate on them. Instead, move your attention to something positive. This won’t be as easy as flipping a switch. A nice distraction, such as a short walk, may help you stop the unhelpful thoughts.
- Reframing your negative thoughts into positive ones. There’s always a way to transform an unhelpful thought into a helpful one. Instead of telling yourself, “I got a bad grade, so I’m a failure,” tell yourself, “I got a bad grade on one project, but no one is perfect, and one low score doesn’t represent who I am as a person.”
- Developing a mantra. Create a positive go-to phrase that you can repeat in your head when you need to. says, “Instead of becoming trapped in the mind’s repetitive, injurious, and ultimately self-defeating thought loops, a mantra can be a powerful device to move through a difficult situation and return to your innate state of balance and well-being or propel you to desired achievement.”