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How to set and stick to your goals

As we start the New Year, many set intentions for the year. Personally, I do not believe on New Year intentions. They just don't work. Statistics back me back, as on average, 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by the second week of February, and only 8% achieve their New Year Resolutions.

Instead, I believe setting goals is the way to go, and I believe this is going to be especially true in 2021. Why you might ask? Well, we all know 2020 was a very challenging and draining year for most of al. Bad things happened in 2020, and it’s easy to doubt 2021 will be better and if we carry the hardship and emotional bruises of the past 12 months into 2021 instead of designing the life we want, we will just let it happen, becoming reactive instead of proactive. I believe goals are the solution to break through that cycle, let go of the past and help us take control of the things that we can control.

Setting goals can help:

  1. Shift our focus. Sometimes is let go of the past, especially when we have experience hardship and lost. We run the risk of getting stuck. Goals enable us to shift our focus and start thinking about the future, which is an exciting blank canvas full of possibilities.

  2. Provide long-term vision and short-term motivation. While setting a long-term vision is something I absolutely recommend and personally love to do, the problem with a vision is that is so far away that is difficult to leverage it to find short-term motivation to do the things that eventually will lead up to fulfill our vision. Breaking down our vision into goals can help us bridge that.

  3. Empower us to create our future. While there is nothing, we can do to change the past, we have the power to create our future.

  4. Focus on what is important. Our goals can act as a reminder of what is most important and allow us to differentiate what matters most form the noise of the day to day.

  5. Provide clarity in decision making. We are constantly faced with decisions we need to make and when we have our goals clear, these can guide our decisions so it's not only easier to make those decisions, but we can feel more satisfied with the decisions we make.

  6. Provide personal satisfaction and fulfillment. There is not much to be said here. When you achieve a goal, you feel fulfilled. Personally, I find the journey to achieving the goals as or more fulfilling. Was not always like that, but when you learn to fall in love with the process, goals can be very powerful tool to provide ongoing personal satisfaction and fulfilment.

While setting goals might sound as a simple thing to do, many times we fail to set and stick to our goals. Some of the most common mistakes we make when setting goals include:

  • Setting too many goals

  • Setting goals in only one area of our lives (typically career-oriented)

  • Not setting a deadline

  • Not having a strong enough why

  • Not revisiting our goals after January 1st

  • Staying in our comfort zone

  • Not identifying the actions needed to accomplish our goals

  • Setting other people's goals

  • Setting goals that are out of our area of control

Here are a few things you can do to help us set and stick to your goals this year.

1. Write them down.

It has been scientifically proven that writing our goals down can increases the chances of achieving them by 42%. What I would add to that is that you should not only write them down once but regularly. Personally, I write down my long-term goals every day.

2. Set fewer goals.

The more we try to do, the less we end up achieving. Do not sabotage yourself by taking on a bunch of goals at a time. I recommend setting anywhere between 1 and 3 goals. You might start your goal setting brainstorming, writing down anything that comes to mind, but at the end of the goal setting you should narrow your goals down to your TOP 1-3 priorities for the year.

3. Set SMARTER goals.

You might have heard about the SMART goal setting approach. It has been around for several decades. It was developed by GE on the 80s. Times have changed since this framework was developed and since then, a few changes and additions have been made to the framework. Let's take a look:




Realistic / Risky

Time bonded



You can learn more about this on Episode 47 of the Leading Yourself Podcast.

4. Make looking your goals every day a habit. Not just January 1st.

I mentioned it earlier, when I talked about writing your goals down, but whether you decide to write them down every day, like me, or just on January 1st, is important that you make revisiting and connecting with your goals a habit. This takes literally 60 seconds per day, but it can make the difference between accomplishing your goals or not this year.

Have your goals somewhere you can see them, and every day spend one minute reading your goals. I prefer to do this at the beginning of the day, that way it helps me keep my goals top of mind throughout the day, giving the choices and decision I make throughout the day.

I would even suggest you take this one step further and ask yourself every day what is one thing (no matter how small) you'll do that day that will bring you closer to your goals.

5. Visualize yourself achieving those goals.

I love the power of visualization and it works well when it comes to sticking my goals. I like to visualize myself achieving my goals. I do this a couple of times a year. At the beginning of the year that might look like a vision board, and I like to come back to that vision board throughout the year. Visualizing myself having accomplished those goals motivates me to keep going.

6. Ask yourself why.

Not having a clear why behind your goals is in my opinion the number one reason why people fail at stick with their goals. Writing down a long list of goals is easy, is just a matter of dumping things on a piece of paper, and many times there is where goal setting starts, with a brainstorming of ideas, but unless there is a strong why behind any goals we set, you will eventually give up on them because they are not important enough to you in order to pay the price required to achieve them.

I always recommend asking yourself why a particular goal is important for you at least five times, until you get to your deepest why.

7. Believe that you can.

If you want to stick to your goals and eventually achieve them, you need to start by believing in yourself. Believing that you can achieve them. Many times, we give up on our goals because we feel we are not able to accomplish them. The thing is that just because you set a goal and you wrote it down it doesn't guarantee you will accomplish it; you need to put in the work to accomplish it. And in order to find the motivation every day to do what is required of you in order to achieve that goal of yours, you need to believe that you can do it.

8. Join the right community

Your environment plays a key role in you sticking to your goals and developing the habits and consistency you need to achieve them. A big part of your environment is the people you surround yourself with. No matter what type of goal you have, being part of a supportive community will be vastly helpful. From weight loss, financial goals, personal growth or even personal or work projects, surrounding yourself with the right people can be the deal breaker in you staying consistent with your goals.

In today's connected world, it’s very easy to find online communities that are supportive of your particular goals and that can offer advice, support and their own motivational experiences to help you achieve your goals. Sharing your daily progress to a community made up of supporters can seem daunting, but it helps you to achieve your goal by being a part of something bigger than just your own personal goal.

9. Share your goals publicly.

There are many studies that have shown than when we share our goals with others, we are most likely to achieve them. Why? well, as sad as it might sound, we are typically better at keeping promises to others than we are at keeping the same promises to ourselves. When we share our goals with others, we automatically increased the steak at the game, be automatically become more accountable, because deep inside we don't want to be embarrassed for not accomplishing or doing what we said we would. This is the one and only situation where being afraid of what others might think of us can play in our favor.

10. Take action!

Let's be realistic, the only way you are going to achieve your goals is by taking action. When it comes to taking action, a few things you want to focus on:

  • Take action immediately after setting your goals. The first thing you should do after locking down your goals is take action, no matter how small.

  • determine what are the daily habits you need to adopt, build, develop, stop or change that will enable you

  • Make a plan. Put it in your calendar! Identify the things you need to do in the next 30, 60 and 90 days to get closer to your goal. Start scheduling those things and make an appointment with yourself to start taking action.

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