How often do we achieve our goals, on average? Brace yourself—the statistic is pretty low.
Only 8 percent of people meet the goals they set for themselves.
But maybe that’s because many of us are not setting effective or realistic goals in the first place. Instead of thinking deeply about what to achieve, we focus on how to achieve.
Once you develop a habit ofsetting meaningful and achievable goals for yourself, following through becomes much easier.
In this post, I’ll share six strategies that I use to set and achieve my goals every week consistently.
Dig deep to figure out why you care about your goals
Intrinsic motivation is more important than anything else when it comes to your goals. This is what matters and will carry you through when you hit a roadblock or experience a setback.
It can be tempting to set goals based on external motivators like money, prestige, or fame.
For example, imagine you have a goal to complete a master’s or doctoral degree. At first, you may think, “I want to achieve this goal to increase my earning potential.” Money is a classic external motivator.
To make this goal easier to stick with, take this a step further and figure out why the goal matters to you at a personal level. For example, it could challenge you intellectually or equip you to better provide for your family.
Break down your long-term goals into smaller, weekly goals
Having your long-term goals in mind gives you direction when you set your goals for the week. However, it would help if you broke these goals into more manageable chunks.
An excellent place to start is with your goals for the year. Work backward from those goals to determine what you must achieve every month and then every week to meet those goals.
For example, say you want to write a book this year. That’s a great long-term goal. If the average book has 75,000 words, and there are 52 weeks in a year, a good weekly goal is to commit to writing 1,450 words every week. This is also a lot more manageable.
Set goals for each week on Monday
Since the first day of school, you’ve been programmed to view Monday as a fresh start. This makes it the perfect day to set goals because that’s when you have the most optimism and clarity.
Remember to write your goals down, as that will make you more likely to follow through and complete them.
Make sure your goals are measurable
We’ve all heard that goals should be measurable, but sometimes we lose sight of what that means. Be vigilant for goals that sound vague or aspirational.
For example, “Consistently work on my blog,” can seem like a good goal at first. But after thinking about it, you’ll realize that “consistent work” can mean a lot of different things. If you worked on your blog for five minutes every day but didn’t finish a single post, did you meet your goal?
A better goal would be something like this: “Write two high-quality blog posts of 1,500 words each.”
Use time-blocking to create a plan for following through on your goals
Time-blocking is assigning blocks of hours in your day for certain types of tasks. When each day is loosely scheduled this way, you are more likely to follow through on your goals, because there is dedicated time for them every day.
Before you start time-blocking, it’s wise to consider your body clock so that you can organize your day according to when you are naturally most productive.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I a night owl or an early riser?
- When do I feel most alert?
- When do I feel most creative?
While it is ideal to block out one- or two-hour stretches for uninterrupted work time, you can still leverage time-blocking principles in the in-between times.
Establish an end-of-week ritual for reflecting on your goals
Reflecting on your goals every week is a way of holding yourself accountable. It can also help you create better goals for the next week by revealing important behavioral patterns.
A key part of your reflection can be celebrating with your friends or family. The time to share your goals with other people isafter you’ve achieved them rather than before. Sharing that you have met your goals feels good and can motivate you to work toward your goals next time. This is much better than sharing your goals before you meet them, which can give you a premature sense of accomplishment and lower your motivation.
Another part of your end-of-week ritual should include asking yourself set questions to gauge your progress:
- Did I meet this goal or not?
- If I did, what did I do that was most helpful in accomplishing it?
- If I didn’t, what was the biggest obstacle that prevented me from meeting it?
Many smart people think that working hard toward your goals is what matters the most in the end. After all, when you’re busy, it can feel like time not spent working toward your goals is wasted.
But slowing down to reassess your goals may be the best thing you can do to be successful at achieving them later on.
As Arianna Huffington once wrote, “We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.”
Ensuring that your goals are framed in the best possible way is, without question, time well spent.