Imagine a plane leaving the airport without a destination. It will lift and get wherever the wind takes it. Would you board that airplane? I bet you would take a step back and reconsider.
Similarly, without goals, we are like an aircraft without a captain. You may leave the runway, but you won’t get far. Goals give us a strong sense of purpose and the resilience to approach uncertainties with a positive attitude. They are the key to a meaningful and fulfilling life, regardless of one’s socioeconomic situation, educational attainments, and talents. Here is the most effective technique to set, attain, and maintain your goals.
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Devise a Winning Goal Setting Strategy
You have undoubtedly heard about the SMART goal-setting framework, but here I am introducing a new concept, which I call STUPID goals. STUPID stands for Strategic, Takes into Consideration, Useful, Positive, Inspiring, and Doable. The STUPID structure will allow you to set, reach, and maintain your goals while accounting for your well-being and relationships with loved ones.
- Strategic. Do you want to improve your physique? This is a long-term goal that may take at least a year of hard work to achieve, making it hard to quantity. Therefore, instead of being specific, you must be strategic. Being strategic means setting a long-term goal and the means—short- and medium-term aims—of achieving it. For instance, an effective long-term goal statement will sound like this: “I want to increase my muscle mass by 10 kg this year. To reach my goal, I devote my time to reach half of that target six months from now. I will go to the gym at least three times a week and will exercise for one hour each time. Within four weeks, I will have added one kilogram of muscle mass.” In this simple statement, you set a big picture and every specific step you will take toward attaining your goal. It is actionable and provides you with ways of assessing your progress.
- Takes into consideration. You must be clear about how the goal fits in your current lifestyle. Will it affect your health? Will working towards that goal have unintended consequences? We are less likely to achieve a goal if it is positive in some aspects and brings chaos to others.
- Useful. Why are you trying to accomplish your goal? Regardless of your level of willpower, you will need to fight the downward pull of boredom and complacency. Knowing your purpose for achieving your goal is your first weapon to moving forward.
- Positive. Notice the wording in this sentence: “I want to increase my muscle mass by 10 kg?” It doesn’t mention the terms “losing weight.” It tells you what you want, not what you are trying to eliminate. Research shows we are more likely to persevere toward our goals when we state them in the positive. Negative goal-setting statements will shut down neural paths critical to learning. Thus, use a glass-half-full mindset when setting your goals.
- Inspiring. Your goal must engage your emotions. Do you feel excited just talking about your new exercise routine? One way to be emotionally involved with your goal is to size it appropriately. Goals that are too lofty or excessively small are less likely to keep you enthused.
- Doable. How much influence do you have on your goal-setting process? What skills do you need to gain? What habits must you unlearn? It’s wise to acknowledge challenges you may face and mitigate their impact on your goal. For instance, if you spend time with your friends who smoke, you’ll never be able to quit smoking. To reach your goals, gather the resources you need while identifying and removing potential obstacles.
Setting goals implies failing. Don’t quit at the first sight of failure. Remember that holding steadfastly to your goal is one of the most valuable elements on the success menu of life. Don’t get frustrated over your baby-step-like improvements or when you have tried and failed. Each insignificant result prepares you for the next colossal achievement.
Reward Yourself when You Reach Your Goal
You have labored hard to attain your goal. Now it’s time to celebrate. Don’t let your wins go unnoticed. Life is both a journey and a destination, therefore don’t be so fixated on a goal that you won’t even acknowledge your intermittent successes. The secret to happiness is when you pursue a well-defined goal while enjoying every step towards it.
Take the First Step Now
Do you have a goal to achieve? With goal setting, tomorrow means never. Lao Tzu reminds us that “A thousand miles begins with a single step.” Today is the day you take that step.
May this article inspires you to take action toward your dreams.