by: Giselle Timmerman and Taylor Chamberlin
Over the last several months, we’ve explored two of the three key components to setting and achieving individual goals (see developing a vision and establishing a plan). Today, let’s finish by tackling the final component: commitment and guts.
When you have developed a vision and established a plan to achieve it, the third step to effective goal-setting is to make these behavioral changes stick.
Much like a muscle, you can exhaust your willpower when you use too much of it. Plan ahead to conserve willpower and prevent yourself from slipping into situations that deter you from your goal. For instance, dieters can preempt future desires by knowing before entering a restaurant exactly what they will do and say when the dessert menu comes. To stay on track and accomplish your goal, identify a handful of obstacles that could block progress and decide exactly what you will do if these hurdles arise.
Another way to ensure perseverance towards your goal is to develop courage in small ways. To activate a “growth mindset,” you’ll need to manage fear of failure by courageously embracing mistakes as a necessary part of learning. Find creative ways to push yourself by exercising courage, and as an added benefit you will build your sense of self-efficacy, thus improving your ability to stick to your goal. I find Eleanor Roosevelt’s adage useful: Do something that scares you everyday.
Lastly, ensure that the activities you must do to achieve your become habits, which require far less willpower to maintain. To build new habits:
- Use cues that trigger your unconscious mind, such as a framed photo of mom next to the phone.
- Be honest with yourself every day on what you did to make progress. Ask yourself: How much effort did I put in today? How much progress did that create?
- Hook a new habit to an old one. This can be as simple as remembering to floss after you brush.
- Reduce the level of “activation energy” it takes to start your new habit. For example, put your running shoes right by the door, or keep your to do list visible on your desktop to easily tackle when you are waiting on hold.
- Enlist an accountability partner or coach (every great performer, from athletes to surgeons to managers now use them) and include them in the process of achieving your goals and building your habits.
There you have it – a researched and empirically tested way to dramatically improve your ability to achieve your goals. Blue Garnet works with clients to define and achieve success at the organizational level, but it’s a treat to share with you some tips for planning at the individual level.
Please let us know how you put your goals into practice, and what your experience has been with learning to achieve them. And of course if you have any questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!