I periodically get asked, “what are some keys to successfully accomplishing goals?” Two keys are (1) making your goals realistic enough that you can accomplish them while at the same time making them challenging enough that some effort is required and (2) find someone to do work on your goal with.
Making goals realistic has many aspects. One aspect is how difficult the goal is to accomplish. Think of weight training. If you lift weights that don’t require effort, your muscles aren’t put under stress and you don’t gain strength. But if you try to lift weights that are too heavy, you can’t move the weights through the full range of motion, and you give up (so you don’t gain any strength). The key is selecting weights that are just heavy enough to place stress on the muscle, but light enough to enable you to complete the exercise. Goals are the same way. You want something that is difficult enough to require effort (otherwise you won’t be inspired by the goal), but easy enough that you can actually accomplish the goal.
Another aspect of goals is choosing a realistic timeframe for our goals. A day is usually too short–if we only work on a goal for a day, we don’t establish a habit. A year or even a few months is usually too long. Generally speaking, a week to a month is a great time. Does that mean you shouldn’t have any long-term goals? Of course not, but make sure you support your long-term goals with multiple week-long or month-long goals (aka” milestones”).
In terms of doing a goal with a friend, you are more likely to accomplish your goal if you find someone who shares your goal and will work on it with you? Why? First, our motivation waxes and wanes. Sometimes you will be very motivated; other times you won’t be. By doing a goal with a friend, there’s a better chance that ONE OF YOU will be motivated to work on the goal each day (or week, or whatever). As a result, you have less of a chance that you’ll give up. Second, we all want to look good in the eyes of our friends. We are liable to “let ourselves off the hook” and rationalize away our pursuit of a goal–”oh, I didn’t feel good today, but I would have worked on my goal had I felt better,” or “the goal wasn’t really that important to me anyway.” But none of us want to look like quitters in front of our friends, and quite honestly, our friends are less likely to cut us slack. As a result, we’re more likely to stick to our goals.
So this New Years, put yourself on a path to success by setting a goal that you can accomplish in the next month, and find a friend to work on your goal with. If you do, you’re much likely to accomplish your goals.
Oh, and Happy New Years!