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October 21, 2020

How to remember the goals you really want to achieve

I love finding ways to get back to my goals and what I want to achieve in life. For many, creating goals can be motivating and exciting. However, from my own experience, having goals can also mean pressure to achieve them. This stress needs to be balanced by creating goals which are realistic and doable. Here are ten tips to getting back to remembering what you really want from life. I have found that when I get back to what is important, slow and steady progress will ensure I enjoy the journey as well.


  1. Visualise – I close my eyes and imagine doing what I truly love… Where am I? What am I doing? How do I feel doing that? What can I add to this picture to make it a touch more motivating? Now the next stage is to summarize the goal this vision represents. Is it a job, a new way of life, a general area to concentrate on? I try and formulate something very specific and attainable. If you are following along, then it can be great to visualize goals for different areas of life also. I have found coaching tools such as the ‘happiness wheel’ can help me focus on what I want for various parts of my life.


  1. Put the vision into virtual action – Remember that if you can visualize it, then you are already getting ready for change. So, now, the next step is to imagine moving towards that visualized future. How did that feel? Do I feel excited? Or did I feel a gulp in my throat since it seems too out of reach?


  1. Define priorities and manage time – Following these initial stages I next must work out what my main priorities for my life are? What are my long-term life goals? However, it’s important not to live in fantasy. Be realistic! So, the question is… what are the things I actually spend most of my time on? Do my priorities and goals really match up with where I’m opting to spend most of my time? This might be looking at time management and work-life balance challenges too.


  1. ReRemember my priorities – Life can be so busy that it’s easy to forget what I originally set out to do. So, it’s really worthwhile to take time and think about what I enjoy and what I truly value. To do this, I love the exercise where you think about yourself as an 80 year old you. I imagine myself at that age, and what it would be like to feel proud of having done certain things during my lifetime. What would those things be? I like to really think about how I truly want to spend my life. I think it’s true that, for me, I will likely only feel successful if my time is spent on what matters most. It’s good to take lots of time to do this 80th birthday exercise.


  1. Start with the ends in mind – I always have a daily ‘to-do’ list. This is often scribbled on post-it notes and scrapes of paper. Yet I also formulate some big goals that will take a few months or even a year or two to reach. For my long-term goals, I begin by starting at the end. For example, say I want to lose a couple of pounds in weight within the next few months. I now start planning backward and breaking this goal down into doable bite size pieces. This means I take it step by step. As I often say, “a marathon is really a series of individual steps, one followed by the next”. This means I plan each step and work for bite-size smaller goals. As such the big long term goal doesn’t feel too overwhelming.


  1. Create a plan for resistance – What are the steps needed to take in order to reach the desired goal? If I ever feel any resistance to working towards my goal, I am careful to note down what is getting in the way. This is so essential. If I’m not honest about why I find it hard, I simply won’t make it. I then ask, “What do I need to do about that resistance?” Is it perhaps that my goal needs to be more realistic?


  1. How do I actually remember to do things? – I often find that writing things down helps. In fact research shows that just by writing our goals down, the chances of achieving them increases significantly. I have a board on my wall. On this I write down my goals. It’s great to have them up and somewhere easily visible. I also, sometimes, put my goals on a sheet on paper close to my desk or on the fridge door. If they are visible I can refer to them frequently.


  1. There is a Difference between a List of Goals and a Wish List – So, what exactly is a goal? A goal is really a concrete and desired result to towards which someone will work. A wish, on the other hand, is something someone would love to happen but if that person were honest, there’s something holding them back from actually getting down to doing it. So there are many things I might wish for but not really want to put effort into working at. The resistance to working at my ‘wishes’, could be because it’s an unrealistic fantasy or it might, in truth, not be something I can really ever actually fully attain. A good example of the latter would be if I said my ‘goal’ was to feel happy or feel calm. I might desire these but, in reality, they aren’t actually goals attainable in themselves. Rather they are the pleasant by-products of reaching other desired goals. If I do want happiness in my life, I must create some concrete goals to achieve things, that when achieved, may help me to then feel happiness. For example, I might (and often do!) set a goal to find a wonderful romantic relationship. My expectation is that the relationship will bring me happiness. In other words, my ultimate desire is happiness but the goal to help create that, is a relationship. Emotional desires are the expected or hoped for by-products of reaching goals appropriate for attaining that state or feeling. Of course, you might reach the goal and not feel as you hoped!


  1. Get passionate, very passionate and also be realistic – How many intelligent people (myself included) get overly passionate about something before really fully evaluating the bigger picture? Passion without realistic expectations leads to frustration and feelings of failure. As such I always plan to ensure my goals are realistic. However, if I’m not also passionate enough about getting there, I won’t get very far at all anyways.


  1. Identifying what I don’t want – I have found that often it is easier to identify what I don’t want rather than what I do want. Not sure which career or romantic partner I need? Why not start by making a list of what I most certainly would say no to? My relationship ‘no’s might include someone who is selfish, taller than me, lives far way or is in lots of debt. This tip is simply another way to hone in on what I do in fact want.


I hope these tips have been useful. They have helped me in formulating goals over the years. I like also to reread articles like this one every few months. This ensures I can re-remember what helps me get back on track. I also often take out a notepad and jot down some ideas too. If available, I talk these goals over with a good friend or a coach, sharing my goals and plans with them also.


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