Setting and achieving goals the right way

My approach on setting goals without subjecting oneself to pressure, avoiding self-criticism, and finding enjoyment in the journey towards those goals.

This isn’t about how to set SMART goals because you can find that information anywhere or simply ask ChatGPT!

What I want is to give you some hints and tips on how to really stay focused.

1. “Less is more!”

Whether they are long-term or short-term goals or to-dos, it is all about being aware of what you DON’T need to do.

So, the most effective way is to jot down everything on paper and begin sifting through it. Eliminate anything that DOESN’T move you forward, leaving just a maximum of 3 points. These will represent your goals, the ones to focus on.

“And how do I know what to eliminate?” For example, decide which of these actions will deliver more or better results without investing as much time (Pareto principle).

2. Set priorities

Goals or to-dos compete for time, attention, and energy. One of many methods for prioritisation is the Four Burners Theory. To cross more off your list, decide which of the four areas of life (work, family, friends, health) you want to work on first.

This also means putting the other three areas on the back burner. To clarify, ask yourself, “Where am I willing to make sacrifices?” and “Can I live with these sacrifices for a certain period?”.

3. Write it down

No one ever moved forward just by talking. How often have you seen this with others or even with yourself? As soon as you write something down, the likelihood of doing it increases significantly.

4. Connect your goals with a Why

Achieving something is always related to a feeling one wants to have! You’re more likely to stay on track if the goal is linked to a specific image and sense that evokes a certain emotion and intrinsic motivation.

Ask yourself questions like, “Why do I want to do XYZ?” or “What feeling will XYZ give me?”.

In other words, connect your endeavor with a vision (an image of a future you want to have) and a mission (action you want to take to achieve that vision). And create a vision board.

5. Frame your expressions in a positive manner

The wording is important, too, because it determines what you focus on exactly (subconsciously). Some words are automatically associated with negative thought patterns.

For example:

Negative: “I don’t want to work with toxic colleagues anymore.”
-> This statement leads you to avoid the problem instead of solving it. It doesn’t indicate the specific action as a solution that you need to take to bring about a change. It only brings out feelings of how uncomfortable it is for you, and then you behave accordingly. You radiate that and therefore don’t attract people who bring out positives in you.

Positive: “I want to collaborate more with colleagues who inspire me and from whom I can learn more.”
-> This statement shows precisely how you can solve the problem by consciously and subconsciously acting upon these points: inspiring colleagues, learning more.

6. Stop comparing yourself

Everyone has their own definition of how “big” their dreams are and what exactly success means. Comparing yourself to others in a way that only breeds self-doubt and self-pity ultimately hinders your progress. Your focus is back on the negative.

A better comparison would be where you started and how far you’ve come.

7. Being fixated on sticking to the plan instead of being flexible

You don’t necessarily need to complete every single task to consider yourself successful. It’s crucial to differentiate between what you can influence and what you can’t (and yes, there are many factors involved!).

Plans don’t always unfold perfectly as envisioned. No one in this world can foresee everything. What we can do is adapt our approach to the situation as needed. Hence, regularly evaluating your goals is essential.

The frequency of reflection is subjective; there’s no right or wrong answer. Unexpected challenges often arise, nudging you towards the right path, even if it might not seem so initially.

8. Adjust your environment

Find out what distracts you and what makes decision-making easier.

For example, if you want to accomplish more tasks in an hour, to avoid being constantly distracted, put your smartphone on “Do Not Disturb” mode or place it somewhere out of your sight.

Or if your goal is to drink more water, place a large bottle nearby. When you’re thirsty, grabbing the water bottle will be an easier decision than going to the kitchen for something else.

It’s also crucial whom you surround yourself with. If you only have people who talk negatively to you every day or are unhappy with themselves, it’s almost impossible to stay positive and achieve your goals. So, try to balance it out by spending less time with them or negative news and more time with positive people, alone time, or activities and positive information.

9. Take enough breaks

The value lies in taking breaks. We aren’t machines operating at maximum efficiency all the time. Hence, it’s beneficial to create more space in your schedule, which helps avoid burnout.

Taking a proper break also enhances productivity. If you feel bad or guilty about it, check your to-dos to reassure yourself that you’ve been productive enough.

10. Rely more on routines than just motivation

That surge of motivation sometimes doesn’t last long. Therefore, you shouldn’t rely on it. Act immediately when it appears.

To stay on track, especially in the beginning, you need discipline to create a routine. Routines help us to accomplish things easily, without much thought or excessive rumination that could prevent us from making decisions and taking action.

11. Celebrate yourself

Even though it’s a straightforward notion, it often slips our minds! It’s the little things in life that deserve celebration, no matter how seemingly insignificant the progress may be. Every step, regardless of size, contributes to moving you forward. Once you’ve embraced the practice of acknowledging life’s small victories, you’ll experience an uplifted sense of well-being.

Remember where you started.

12. Laugh more about your failures

Don’t take life too seriously. Laugh about your foolishness and failures along the way. Turn mistakes into a funny story where you learned from them and how they propelled you forward.

As you can see, your mindset is crucial in achieving what you set out to do.

The Kocho Planner can help you with that: Example 1.