Achieving Your Goals is Hard Work

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When it comes to achieving your goals, at work or in your personal life, there is one thing all the goal-setting gurus forget to tell you:  It’s Hard Work!!!

In fact it is relentless work.  Every day you will have choices for how to spend your time.  It is very easy to keep doing what you always do – whatever that is.  Status quo is easy – Change is hard.  And achieving your goals will require change.  So what can a person do to ensure they achieve the goals set?  Here are a few tips:

  1. Set up a reminder system. I don’t know about you, but for me a separate planning and organizing tool is never helpful.  There are many goal setting and planning tools out there, but if you don’t visit those tools every day you are not likely to make meaningful progress as a result of these systems.  If a goals setting system works for you and you do use it daily, then that is great.  For me a to do list on a big white board in my office, plus putting items I need to get done on my meeting calendar works best.  On the white board I simply write down every morning a handful of things I need to make progress on or take care of that day.  On my calendar, I make appointments with myself for completing steps toward longer term goals.  Here’s an example:  I have a goal to complete a half marathon with my daughter on June 5th.  Yes, that date is on the calendar, but I will not be ready without completing plenty of training runs in advance.  So, my weekly and daily running goals are also on my calendar.  My 4-mile run yesterday, my 1-mile run today, and my 3-mile run tomorrow are all on the calendar. Otherwise, I would procrastinate and never be ready come June.
  2. Be a vigilante. This is also part of the hard work.  It requires staying on top of your progress toward achieving your goal by continuously scanning your work and life environment, making changes as needed, and policing or disciplining yourself to continue making progress.  If your goal, for example, involves losing 10 pounds by the end of April, you need to continuously watch yourself, not over eat, makes changes to your diet and exercise regimen as you hit plateaus, and be the person who says “no” to the yummy looking french fries and order a side salad with that healthy sandwich.
  3. Align your goals with a larger purpose. If you are thinking about a work goal, always make sure individual goals you set for yourself are aligned with the goals your department or your company have set.  If you’re working away at a career goal that doesn’t further the needs of your organization, you may find little or no satisfaction when you achieve your goal and it just doesn’t matter.  But, if your goal ends up really helping to move your team forward, you will feel amazing when the group, company, and you all get the results you were working toward.
  4. Stop doing things that don’t move you forward. I know so many people who continue to do those status quo things even when those things are not important, enjoyable, or meaningful.  We are creatures of habit, yet none of us really wants to be the one to say you do something simply because “that’s what I’ve always done.” Don’t be that person.  Be intentional about the things you choose to do.  Ask yourself what is the big “why” behind everything you do.  Ask yourself if you stopped doing something whether anyone would know or care.  If the answer is probably not – then stop wasting time on those status quo things that are not important.  Replace these things with work toward your meaningful goals.
  5. Ask someone to hold you accountable. Tell others about your goals.  You will want to achieve the things you tell others about because you don’t want to let them down.  By telling a friend, family, work colleagues or others about your goals, plans hopes, and dreams you have created accountability partners to help you along the way.  If it makes sense for you, consider hiring a business, leadership, or life coach to hold you accountable.  You could even start or join a mastermind group or peer advisory group and use the group to share your goals and hold each other accountable for achieving the results you expect.