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How to achieve your goals

Want to know how to set a goal and achieve it? Here are three strategies for success from the latest Psychologies event

by Psychologies

Thanks to everyone who attended our recent Psychologies event with the wonderful TV presenter Cherry Healey on setting goals. Here are the three strategies for success.

Your challenge if you choose to accept it… Create a goal that you believe you can achieve in the next 30 days and experiment with the following strategies. Share with us on Facebook how you get on!  

1. We are more likely to do something if we expect to succeed. Create doable goals that you expect to succeed. You're more likely to fail if you set yourself unrealistic goals. Ask how can you make your goals more specific or explicit – play around with it and be extreme. For example, from 6.40am to 6.44 am, I will commit to reading my to-do list. From 6.44am to 6.53am, I will write the letter to the bank, put it in an envelope and put it by the front door. From 6.53am to 7.13am, I will write 400 words of a scene of my novel. From 7.13am to 7.23am, I will do eight yoga sun salutations.

2. Create an ‘implementation intention’. Say what you’ll do when. Research shows that the more concrete you can be about the exact actions you will take in the time slot you commit to, the more likely you are to get things done and less likely to procrastinate. How do you convince yourself a goal is attainable? Take baby steps! Change is scary because we have to step out of our comfort zone. By breaking it down into baby steps, we creep out of our comfort zone without our fear claxons screaming: ‘You're not good enough’ and ‘You're going to fail.’  See how small your progress needs to be to make it feel like you’re achieving something, and see what tasks have you grinding to a halt because it feels too scary or challenging. Experiment. Ask yourself: what 10 babysteps can you take in 24 hours to make your goal a reality

3. Don’t give in to feel good. Procrastinators avoid tasks because some tasks can create bad feelings such as anxiety, boredom or pain, so we give in to the impulse to walk away in order to feel good right now. Procrastination gives us the instant gratification of feeling good, but has long-term costs. We promise that we will do the task tomorrow instead, which makes us feel good about our decision to postpone going for a run, for example, until 7am the next morning. But when 7am arrives and we feel ‘too tired’ to go for a run, we give in to feel good. ‘I don’t feel like it,’ you say. ‘I need to feel better in order to act.’ This is not true. Research shows that your mood improves when you progress on your goals. Focus on how you will feel when the task is finished and don’t ‘give in to feel good’.

Try this: Describe in vivid sensory detail (smells, what you see, how you feel) what it will be like once you’ve attained your goal. By doing this, you can actually increase your own dopamine levels – that chemical messenger in the brain of reward and motivation.

Ask yourself today… How can you remind yourself of the rewards of reaching your long-term goal? Could you create a strong, vibrant visualisation of you achieving your goal? Can you buy yourself a trophy and put it on your mantelpiece? How can you fire up a dopamine ‘shower’ in the moment of resistance to the task in hand? Experiment over the next 30 days.

Click here to find out about other exciting Psychologies events and see NOW Live Events for more coming up soon – and join our tribe!

More inspiration:

Sign up for our Life Labs Practical Wisdom online course Achieve Your Goals here

Read The power of perseverance by Susannah Hebden Moore on LifeLabs

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