What Helps or Hinders Achieving Your Goals?
I came across the claim that goals are reached primarily by establishing the proper frame of mind. I think the writer has it backward. It takes a lot more than the proper frame of mind to reach a goal, but you’re far less likely to reach a goal if you have the wrong frame of mind. The conviction that you can’t reach your goal will hobble your chances of achieving it even if you have all other requisite resources, tools, and know-how.
Of course, lots of things can help in reaching a goal. For example, if it’s a complex undertaking, dividing it into small, bite-sized steps makes it more manageable. It’s usually helpful to establish a deadline and a schedule by which you will work toward the deadline. It’s also important to assess progress toward the goal at the completion of specified time periods or tasks.
The acronym SMART appears often in relation to setting goals—that is, a goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. These criteria reduce the odds of having a goal that is wildly unrealistic (“I want to learn to speak Mandarin in three months”), is too fuzzy (“I want to eat more vegetables”), or isn’t measurable (“My New Year’s resolution is to be a better person”).
A recommendation I’ve often heard is telling other people about your goals in order to make yourself more accountable. But I was intrigued to discover that there’s been considerable pushback against this idea. In fact, studies suggest that telling people about your goals makes you less likely to achieve them. Apparently, telling someone about your goals makes you less motivated to do the hard work needed to actually achieve the goal.
My own view is that we differ in too many ways to state an absolute about what will help or hinder everyone in reaching a given goal. I’ve seen people meet goals despite missing the R (realistic) in SMART simply because they were too pigheaded to accept that achieving the goal was unrealistic. I’ve seen a group of people set forth to achieve the same goal, and some of those who made it were the least aware of the value of deadlines and schedules. The key is to know yourself, then do what will work best for you in achieving your goals.