9 tips on how to meet your goals and grow your capabilities
In Part 1 of this article, we identified why we are our own worst enemy when it comes to identifying how to improve ourselves. Here we look at what we can do to help us, given the fact that we are not always the best person to do so.
Psychologist, Heidi Grant Halvorson, recently studied the science of success asking – Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? Decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do. As such, in her ebook – “Nine Things Successful People Do Differently” – she identified the following:
1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. This gives you a clear idea of what success looks like and helps to keep you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal.
2. Seize the moment to act on your goals. Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities to work on our goals before they slip through your fingers. To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible. Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.
3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.
4. Be a realistic optimist. When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal.
5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good. Believe you can get the ability to reach your goals is important. , but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.
Research suggests that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential.
6. Have grit – the willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Again, you can develop your ‘grit ability’.
7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.
To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur. It is hard in the beginning, but it gets easier. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.
8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, or over-expose yourself to temptation.
9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken. If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead?
So what does this all mean?
To achieve your goals overcome the common mistakes above; build, develop and apply your abilities; and use this knowledge to your advantage from now on.
What has worked for you to help you reach your goals? Have you tips or ideas of your own that you would like to share?
Share your ideas, insights, and experience – and share the wealth!
About Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions (“GPS”)