Two Steps to Failure-Free Goals

We all have goals. We have that list which looks so crisp and pretty on January 1st. It may say “go on a vacation” or “lose 10 pounds” or “learn to play the piano”. But, by January 20th, that list is under a pile of papers and that goal is far from of your mind. Why is it that we can’t stick to these resolutions? We want to do these things but we just can’t get it done.

The reason is that our goals are vague. We want to get in shape. We want to be a positive person. But what does that mean?

In order for a goal to really stick it has to be both specific and challenging. We will often keep our ambitions unclear so there is no really measurable way to admit failure. If you want to “be more confident”, who’s to say if you’ve succeeded or not? There’s no way to measure the results so there is no way to say you haven’t met your aim.

A specific goal has details embedded in it and is clearly defined. You have pinpointed exactly what you want to do and you are working towards a certain result. If you want to get in shape, then have a specific weight goal. If you want to become more adventurous, then decide what it is you imagine an adventurous person does and do that; maybe adventurous to you means talking to strangers or it could mean skydiving. If you keep your goals unclear then you won’t have anything to work toward and you will have no idea if you are actually progressing towards a result.

Your goal must also be challenging. A “low goal” is one that not hard for you and will not ask you to exert yourself in any capacity. While these may come easier to you and you’ll feel more successful at the moment, the ultimate results will be sub par. Your self-esteem comes from moving out of your comfort zone and achieving despite the risk of failure.

These “challenging and specific” goals are ones that should exceed your immediate grasp; if you could achieve it today, then it’s not an appropriate goal. If you would like to learn to play the guitar, a “low goal” would be to buy music books and maybe learn a chord or two. While this is a great start, this goal has a high chance of immediate success and doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone. Instead, you should say you will learn three songs and will be performing a concert for family at Christmas. Now you have something challenging to shoot for and, when you’re sitting in the living room wowing everyone on Christmas Day, think of how proud you’ll be of yourself.


This article was written by Elizabeth Cauley, Morning Espresso.  Please click the link for her inspirational podcast.

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