Achieving Your Goals: The Science of Driving Success

Learn the science behind setting goals, so that you're more likely to be successful in work and in life!

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We all have goals that we want to attain. But, we talk a lot more about those who have achieved goals than the steps they took to get there. This is confusing because it makes it hard for us to understand how to follow in their footsteps. The good news – there is a science to goal setting. The steps that you take to achieving your goals will help you get there. Achieving goals can raise your satisfaction with yourself and your life. Want to learn how to make it likely that you’ll achieve your personal goals? Read on for some tips!

Don’t shy away from tough goals

First, it’s important to recognize that choosing a challenging goal will actually make you put forth more effort and persistence to achieve it. This is crucial because people often think choosing easy goals will make you happier because you know you’ll achieve them. However, nearly 50 years of research shows that selecting a more challenging goal actually gets you further. So, stretch yourself a little and see what you can accomplish. It’s likely that you’ll surprise yourself. This doesn’t mean choosing an impossible goal though. Maybe you want to become a veterinarian but were never able to perform well at math and science. If you aren’t capable of performing a job well, matter how hard you try, you might want to select a more reasonable goal.

Be specific – tiny actions lead to goal achievement in the long run

Once you have a challenging, but not impossible, goal set, you need to take actions to get there. This means you’ll have to take big hurdles and break them down into smaller goals. Making progress toward goals is motivating  So, it’s important to keep yourself on the path to goal attainment by giving yourself somewhere to start.

It can seem daunting to say that you want to lose 25 pounds in 4 months, but if you set the goal to lose 1-2 pounds per week, that’s a start. Even better, come up with a daily nutrition and exercise plan that will allow you to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Each day is then full of smaller goals (what to eat and which workout to complete) that lead to a weekly goal, a monthly goal, and the ultimate goal. Breaking your goals down into smaller parts helps you realize the progress you’re making and makes it really clear what you need to do to get to the finish line. The same principle can be applied at work as well!

marbles goal setting
You don’t need to have “all the marbles” right away. A bunch of small actions can lead to achieving a big goal in the long term!

Try to pick goals that are important to you, not just to everyone else

One of the key tenets of goal setting is that if you aren’t committed to a goal, you will be less likely to achieve it. We can’t always choose our goals at work, but we can choose the way we interpret their meaning. For example, if you’re in sales, you may or may not feel passionate about the act of selling. But, if your product helps others, then you support others by selling something that helps. Or maybe your product doesn’t help others, but end users really love it. So, you are adding joy to their lives. Maybe you like your colleagues and can find satisfaction in that, even if the job itself isn’t highly motivating at the task level.

Finding reasons why your goal is important to you can be tricky at times. But, it’s important to keep these reasons in mind when things get tough. Whenever possible, try to select goals that you find motivating and exciting!

Keep hoping, even when things get tough

In many instances, goal achievement does get difficult. When that happens, it’s important to remain persistent. It’s also important to generate ways that you might achieve your goal, so you can keep trying new things. In fact, while many people think of hoping as simply wishing, it’s actually an active process. People who are “high hopers” are those who stay motivated to achieve goals. They also try to think of many ways to obtain goals. Having high hope can make you more likely to achieve your goal.

While some people are generally more hopeful than others, you can grow your hope. You can become more hopeful by anticipating challenges and generating ideas about how to get around them. You can also remind yourself frequently of why goal achievement is important to you. If you want to be more hopeful in the face of challenges, you can revisit your strategies for overcoming hurdles and your “why”. This will make it easier to get through the hard times.

mountain goals
Things might not always be easy when you’re trying to achieve goals. That’s ok. Just keep remembering why you started and think of other ways you might tackle the challenge!

Do your best when your goal requires new learning

When your goal requires you to complete a set of straightforward tasks, it’s better to just focus on getting them done quickly. But, when your goal requires you to learn or problem solve, instead of putting time pressure on yourself, it’s better to tell yourself to just do your best. In other words, you’ll panic and scramble if something takes time and you don’t allow yourself to think it through. Your solution will be less well-developed as a result. Giving yourself the permission to take time to learn and come up with new strategies will drive better results in the long term. So, don’t feel constrained by time if you don’t have to be. Achieving goals can take a while and it’s better to get it right than to do it quickly, when things are a little more complex.

Now get going on goal setting! Speaking of which, if you are interested in setting some challenging, specific goals for your workplace wellness, download our 5-Day Workplace Wellness Reset. It has tons of easy, actionable ways that you can improve your work-life right away. Plus, we based it all on high-quality scientific studies on well-being. Remember that challenging goals are good, so pick a level you think will be difficult but not impossible. Let us know how things are going with this or other goals you have set for yourself below! What tips do you have for sticking with your goals? How did you feel when you achieved them?

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