Maintain Progress Toward Your Goals

This article was written by admin, on November 22, 2022

Identify what you are willing to sacrifice for your goals as a

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colored sticky notes that say motivational statements about goals

As the calendar year winds down, it is inevitable that you will encounter messaging about goal setting. From social media, from your boss, from your spouse; it’s like we can’t end a year without making plans to improve the next one.

Setting goals is an admirable tradition, and the idea of improvement should be encouraged. But so often, people talk about setting goals but never plan how to maintain their progress toward those goals. A goal is an objective, a selected target you are wishing to achieve. The difference between people who set goals and people who achieve outcomes is planning what they are going to do to reach that objective.

Our goal-setting guru, James Clear, has a few things to say about this. He recommends a new starting point for our end-of-year goals: instead of what success we wish to achieve, he advises us to focus on what sacrifices we are willing to make. If our goal is to lose weight, we should start by asking ourselves if we are willing to sacrifice an hour of sleep each day to wake up and work out. If our goal is to make more money, we must weigh the sacrifices that may entail—working on Saturdays, less family time, or more vulnerability in “putting ourselves out there” in new ways.

“It’s easy to sit around and think what we could do or what we’d like to do. It is an entirely different thing to accept the tradeoffs that come with our goals. Everybody wants a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian.” – James Clear in this post about goal setting.

To pursue a goal ruthlessly and consistently, Clear reminds us to pay attention to our direction and our systems. If I am focused on two goals at a time, my direction is unclear, and my progress will be slower. If I am directed towards one target, but have do not have proper systems in place, I will feel that I am at a standstill instead of moving forward.

So, following this logic, if I set 12 New Year’s resolutions and try to work on all 12 at once, I’m hindering my ability to achieve these objectives. I can have multiple goals, but I must prioritize one at a time to truly commit myself to the system I’ll need to maintain. Therefore, when I sit down to make my resolutions, I need to select the goals that are most important to me and focus on the sacrifices that will propel me toward those goals, preferably one at a time.

We will not make positive progress toward our prioritized goal if we do not have an actionable system. Clear recommends creating new habits after or before already established ones. For example, I will make 3 cold calls each time I fill my coffee mug. It is automatic for me to fill my coffee mug 3-4 times during a workday, and if I make that a cue to my brain to remember and take steps toward my objective (more new clients), I am more likely to maintain that system.

“Effective goal setting requires consideration of the system that surrounds you. Too often, we set the right goals inside the wrong system. If you’re fighting your system each day to make progress, then it’s going to be really hard to make consistent progress.” – James Clear in this post about goal setting.

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