We hold ourselves back when we lack a specific, well-defined standard for evaluating success.
We often struggle to make progress toward our goals when we lack a clear way to evaluate our success. We leave ourselves too much room to make excuses and/or misrepresent the progress we have made when we are not specific about what we aim to achieve. We tell ourselves we are making progress to make ourselves feel better, even though we have failed to accomplish what we set out to do.
We hold ourselves back when we lack a specific, well-defined standard for evaluating success. We end up frustrated by our slow progress, and, ultimately, we abandon those projects that would improve our lives.
How, then, can we stop lying to ourselves and create clear goals?
(See my related article, How to Face Your Fears – 6 Simple Steps to Realize Your Goals)
How to Establish Clear Goals
Establishing a clear standard for evaluating your success will help you focus, make consistent progress, identify problem areas, and achieve your goal.
I recommend using a journal to write out your specific goal, your plan for making it happen, and your evaluation of your ongoing progress.
Establish your goal. What is your goal and what does success look like? Be specific and set a realistic goal. For instance, if you want to get in shape, your goal might be expressed in terms of a target weight or a set time commitment (1 year). If you want to write, your goal might be expressed in terms of a final project (a novel, a screenplay, or an article) and tentative deadline. It is important that your goal is attainable and that it is defined in a way that allows you to clearly measure your success.
Plan how you will achieve your goal. What actions can you take to reach your overall goal? When you plan, it is important that you specify individual achievements that are measurable, that are relevant for achieving your goal, and that hold you to specific time constraints. For example, if your goal is to get in shape, you can set up a weekly schedule that establishes specific time commitments and days on/days off. If your goal is to write a novel, you can establish daily and weekly/bi-weekly writing goals (1,000 words a day and one chapter every two weeks). It is crucial to make your plan realistic and attainable. Your early successes will help motivate you to aim higher as you develop a routine and make progress.
Evaluate your progress. Once you have a plan, you need to evaluate your ongoing progress. At the end of each day, write down what you have accomplished. Did you do what you set out to? If not, why not? Evaluating your ongoing progress will help you become more aware of what is holding you back. Honest self-assessment is key to self-development and self-improvement.
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