So You’ve Set A Goal, Now What? Four Steps To Absolutely Smashing It
You have crafted the perfect SMART goal, … you’re pumped and fired up and ready to go. Now how the hell do you actually go about achieving it?
I have always wanted to do the splits. They are the ultimate flexibility goal and a pretty cool party trick. Well, when I say I wanted to, I mean I wanted to, but not enough to actually do anything about it. Like research how to do them, or stretch, or indeed practice in any way.
I suppose from my behaviour, you could argue I didn’t really want to at all. “I want to” are just words that I said but there was no meaning or intent behind them.
Everything changed about 9 months ago though where I hit a breakthrough that transformed my whole approach. Since then I have been practicing consistently and I am loving the results.
There is A LOT written about goal setting, mindset, habits, behaviour change etc… I should know because I studied this stuff at Uni and write rather a lot myself. 😏 But I think, when it comes down to it, there are four tactics that are more important than all the others. Four tactics that when implemented properly, will be responsible for 80% of your results. Four tactics that you need to make sure you actually do.
Can I say four tactics anymore?
Are you ready for your four tactics?
1. Admit it to yourself — why is it painful to stay where you are?
Picture this. I had been going to my pole fit classes for a while and I was getting stronger, but remained about as flexible as a breadstick. It soon became apparent that due to my lack of flexibility there were some moves I just could not do.
It turns out that there’s only so many times you can say “I’m not flexible enough” before it gets really embarrassing. There’s only so many months that can pass before you think, “hmmm maybe I should try harder not to be so shit”.
All my classmates were getting bendier, but I was staying the same. Up until that point, not being able to do the splits did not harm me. Now my lack of progress was painfully shameful. And I needed that pain to get me off the couch and onto my yoga mat.
If you are to succeed, you need a super strong why. A why so strong, that the world’s strongest man would balk at the strength of your conviction. If you are not 1 million percent clear on why it is painful to stay stuck where you are then you need to do some deep reflecting.
What painful emotions do you feel when you think about staying stuck where you are? Do you feel embarrassed that you cannot walk up the stairs at your workplace without getting out of breath? Does it make you feel sick that the money you spend on cigarettes could pay for a week long holiday? Do you feel guilty that you invested so much into your education and now you’ve ended up working in a low paid job you hate?
You don’t need motivation in order to take action, but unless you stoke your fire, you won’t have the fuel you need to consistently do difficult stuff. You will just have a vague notion of, “well, I probably should do this” rolling around in your head. And let me tell you, there is just NO CONTEST between a woolly should and Netflix and cake.
People run marathons for all sorts of wonderful causes that are meaningful to them, and that meaning gives them the stamina to keep going. Your goal shouldn’t be any different. What is your cause?
2. Picture it — why would achieving your goal be amazing and worthwhile?
I used to daydream about being able to do all the flexy moves in pole class with ease. My classmates would look over and give me a woop, my teacher would say “Yes Alison!” and I would imagine how proud I would feel getting into the most beautiful positions with my toes by my ears knowing that all my hard work paid off.
I’m not interested in competing with others, for me, pole is about breaking through my own limitations. It is about not being able to do something, practicing and then getting that amazing feeling that suddenly you can do it!
Doing the splits is a worthwhile goal to me because it shows that I am the type of person who can achieve a level of physicality through consistent, dedicated practice. It shows that I am the type of person who gets better with age. It shows that I am the type of person who pushes themselves, quite literally out of their comfort zone.
My goal fits in with my future identity of who I want to become. Your goal should do the same. It should be freaking scary because it makes you take a leap of faith. You are not that person yet, but you are betting that you will become them.
If you cannot visualise what this next level of you is going to look like, you will really struggle to get there. Tony Robbins says, “energy flows where focus goes”, and this means that if you are unfocused and have only fuzzy notions of what your success will be like, your progress will feel like you are running on the spot.
You need to picture precisely what does your win look, feel, smell, taste, touch and sound like. I have imagined (and actually dreamt) many times about that glorious feeling of my bum touching the floor. I can call to mind that image easily and in vivid, technicolour detail. You need to do the same for your goal. if you can’t even imagine it in your head, how are you going to do it in real life?
3. Make yourself accountable
World Champion Wrestler turned Yoga guru, Diamond Dallas Page says “Don’t just think it, ink it”. DDP knows that if your goal is just in your head, it is easy for it to get covered up with all the other crap that you think about on a daily basis. If your goal is just in your head, it is easy to forget it. If your goal is just in your head, it is easy to not care about whether you achieve it. If your goal is just in your head, it is easy to let yourself down, over and over and over again.
The magic happens when you put pen to paper. When you commit and say, “this is something that is really important to me and something that I am GOING TO DO!” When you have written proof of your intention your goal becomes harder to forget now that it exists and occupies space in the world.
Writing it down is not foolproof however. You can close the cover of your journal, or throw your post it note in the bin and ta da — your goal has disappeared! You can easily forget about it and no one will ever need to know what your goal was and whether you achieved it. In other words, you have left yourself an escape route for when the going gets tough.
Previous experience with other fitness related goals taught me that if I was going to rely on myself, I would fail. I literally couldn’t trust myself to do something that I really wanted! So I told my friends that my goal was to do the splits, I told anyone who would listen, that my goal was to do the splits and I plastered it all over social media.
Then, because they are good friends they asked me how I was getting on, which made me want to keep practicing and not disappoint them. It turns out that you can let yourself super easily, but it is 10x harder to let other people down. In the process of sharing my goal, I learnt that two of my friends also wanted to do the splits. Now we practice together which helps to keep me going on those days where I am struggling.
I realised that a really simple way to keep my goal alive and visible was to print it on a mug that I see and use every day. It is a great reminder for me and other people, and it helps me to be accountable for my actions.
Who have you shared your goal with? Have you asked your friends/family/workmates to support you, or challenge you if you are going off track?
4. Measure your progress
You have probably heard of the goal setting acronym; SMART. Typically it is used by boring managementy people (I should know, I am one 😆) but in this instance, it is also kinda useful. When you set a goal it should be:
If you want to achieve a goal, you need to measure your progress. If you cannot measure how close (or far away) you are from your success, then how will you know if what you are doing is working? How will you know when you have achieved what you set out to achieve?
Knowing your own progress will sustain you in those difficult times when you want to give up. Knowing your own progress will sustain you in those times when you lose faith that you can become this better version of yourself. Knowing your own progress gives you confidence that you can achieve your goal because you are already further on than starting!
Think about weight loss, If you can lose 1lb then you have demonstrated that you have what it takes to hit your weight loss goal, because all that weight loss is, is 1lb lost over and over again. If you can do it once, then you can do it a second time, third time, 1000th time…however long it takes. If you don’t know that you can do it once, then you need to have a rock solid, almost delusional self-belief that you can do it in the face of absolutely zero evidence.
The same goes for my goal with the splits, if I can improve by 1cm then I can improve by another 1cm, then another 1cm, then another 1cm and so on. The same goes for your goal, or any goal that takes time and consistent effort to achieve.
Once you start to progress, it becomes painful to go backwards and lose what you have gained. Sometimes you need a big initial push to get started (refer back to step 1!), but at some point you will find yourself able to keep going and it will be less effortful because you are tapping into the power of your own momentum.
Don’t get me wrong, it is now May and I have not hit my goal yet…(watch this space!*). but I am stretching nearly every day whereas before I started sharing my goal and getting serious about it, I was lucky if I managed to fit in one stretch a week.
Are you measuring your progress at least weekly? You can take a photo of it, record it on app, write it on a post it note, put it in your diary, write it on a whiteboard (I have whiteboard paper which is amazing!). Then put your measurement somewhere that you will see it EVERY DAY and for bonus points, put it somewhere that other people will see it too. Then adjust your efforts if you are not getting closer to the end result you want.
Now it is your turn to take action!
If you want to take your goal achievement to the next level, then why not get your goal personalised on your brand new coffee mug? Don’t give yourself an easy way out and instead, leverage the power of accountability while you are sipping your tea! If you are interested in getting your own personal goal mug, click here for more info.
Thank you for reading! 😃 If you have enjoyed this, please consider clapping or sharing my post. Let me know in the comments below, what tactics do you use to smash your goals?
*** You can also keep in touch with me by signing up to my email list, just click here. As a thank you, I will send you the Ultimate Handy Dandy Guide To Goal Setting And Smashing Ebook. This is 40 pages of jam-packed, no-nonsense, super practical and sometimes mildly amusing guidance which walks you through every step of the goal setting and achieving process. All for FREE. Yay! ***