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How to Set Goals that You Will Actually Achieve

With the New Year just around the corner, most people are thinking about what goals they want to make for the coming year. The truth is that most people abandon their goals—not just their New Year’s resolutions, but any goal—less than two weeks after they make it. Why? Lack of motivation, lack of tangible rewards, or lack of a real plan to achieve that goal.

For example, let’s say that you make a goal to lose ten pounds in the next two months. It’s a worthy goal, if you want to get healthier. So what’s wrong with this goal? It lacks a plan. And because it lacks a plan, there’s not motivation for getting it done or a system for rewards or for tracking your progress. The same can be said for any goal that is made but which is not accompanied by a real plan. This is why we fail so often when we set goals—because we’re only making the declaration of the goal, we don’t actually formulate a plan. Here’s how to set goals that you will actually achieve.

Write It Down

Telling people your goal is great, but you need to write it down, too. Whether you keep a special notebook just for writing down your goals or whether you write it on a post-it and put it on your fridge, the first step is to put pen to paper and document what you want to achieve—but not just the declaration, also the reasons why you want to achieve that goal and how you plan on achieving it. Use what I like to call the RPA system—that’s Results, Purpose, Activity. What results do you want? What is the purpose for the goal? And what activity or activities do you need to do to achieve it?

Break It Down and Give Yourself a Time Limit

The biggest reason most people abandon their goals is because the end result, the big thing they want to achieve is too big. You’ve got to break it down into bite-size, manageable chunks. For example, if you want to lose weight, you need to pick an activity every day that allows you do that—something small and manageable like jogging for an hour or eating a certain number of calories.

Ninety days is a pretty standard time limit for a goal. It’s a quarter of a year, which is a standard measurement for business-related goals. It’s enough time really to start seeing results from the smaller activities you’ve been doing.