Here is some guidance from the forthcoming book. Of course, these are quite general and you will need to apply the principles to your own specific goals, with emphasis on some elements more than others depending on the individual.
1. Always set your goal in the positive – People tell me this one seems too simple but it is really important. You will find it much easier to focus on something positive rather than a negative thing that you want to leave behind. For example ‘Having a great new career’ is far more appealing for your mind to focus on than ‘leaving this dreadful job’. Similarly ‘being slimmer’ is a much more satisfying and easier to work towards than ‘giving up fattening food’. Very basic examples but you get the idea.
2. Be specific – It’s virtually impossible to work towards something when you don’t know exactly what it is. Be clear in what you want to achieve, whether it’s personal development, career, or emotional development. Include all the details in your goal setting and spend quality time with your goal, imagining how it will feel to be in that situation. Really feel it, imagine the sights, sounds and smells. Be there, in your goal. The more energy you give to envisaging your goal, the stronger it will become and the more likely you are to fully focus on achieving it.
3. Be able to initiate action yourself – This is your goal and you need to be able to at least start on the journey yourself. What skills, situations or opportunities do you have right now that will enable you to get started? For example, if it’s career based, what training, skills and experience do you already have? If you don’t yet have what you need yet then you must be able to seek out and access the training you need to continue. Just making those first enquiries is a step towards your goal.
4. Be aware of the wider effects of your goal – Some therapists and coaches call this the ecology. How will the achievement of your goal affects other elements of your life and those close to you. For example if your goal involves you moving to a new area, how does this affect say, your children’s education, or the frequency with which you will get to see friends and family. Be aware of these global effects.
5. Small steps/steady progress – Your goal may seem overwhelming at times, especially if it involves making big changes in your life. When setting your goal, don’t get overwhelmed by the outcome, look at each small step that you will take to get there and tackle them one at a time. This way you can look back at each step as you have achieved it and delight in your progress.
6. Pause occasionally – Especially if you feel like you are getting stuck. As in step 5 above, if you approach your goal one step at a time you can stop occasionally and look at how far you’ve come. Not only will this motivate you as you delight in your successes, it gives you the opportunity to look at the path ahead and maybe tweak some of the steps a little, drawing on your experience. If you are feeling particularly stuck this is an ideal time to really take a break from working towards your goal and give yourself a chance to enjoy life right now. Inspiration comes from the most unlikely places at times and this may be just what you need to spur you into action again.
7. Acknowledge what holds you back – Procrastination problems? Fear of failure or rejection? Worried you’ll end up looking stupid? Lack of confidence in your own abilities? Doubting whether this is the right move for you? These are just some of the things that may be holding you back from going for your goals, or may have stopped you from doing so already. Most of these barriers stem from fear. Don’t focus too much on these fears, it just gives them more energy to interfere and hold you back. But do acknowledge them so that you can look at them objectively (you may need support from a therapist or coach to do this, but then that can be your first step) and then get past them and move on.
8. Defend you goal against the doubts and fears of others – You may find it safer to keep your goals to yourself for a while, as much as possible. Guard your desires against the negative views and fears of other people. For example, you may let your precious goal out into the daylight only to have it criticised by someone who thinks that you can’t achieve it, or you’re being unrealistic, or whatever number of reasons people may come up with, intentionally or otherwise. Remember they are only voicing their own doubts or opinions. Don’t mistake this with feedback though. If you have sought the advice or opinion of someone who really does know what they are talking about and not just expressing their own views or doubts based on their negative beliefs, then their feedback can be valuable and can help you make changes to your path towards your goal.
9. Measurable progress – Do set targets for each step towards your goal, Being able to measure your progress is an essential part of working towards your outcome. If something isn’t working as expected then don’t waste any more valuable time on it. Change it.
10. Resources. What do you have already? – Look at what you want to achieve, whether it’s changing an unwanted behaviour, embarking on a new career or some other life change. Chances are that you already have some of the tools you need to get there. Assessing what you already have can make it feel like you are making progress from the outset, and help you to set those mini-goals to get you there.
11. Be clear why you want this – Be honest with yourself, why do you want this? For example do you want this new career because you think it will make you rich? If so then your focus may not be the career itself because you will love doing it everyday, but instead you want the lifestyle that you imagine goes with it. Knowing this may mean that you need to completely re-asses what is your actual goal. Do you want to lose weight because you want to be healthier and fitter and feel more confident? Or because you think it will make you more attractive to prospective partners? Spend time identifying the reasons behind you desires.
12. Don’t lose faith – Turn problems along the way into solutions or opportunities. Again you may need some support to do this as it can be easy to get despondent when things don’t seem to be working out as you had hoped. If one way doesn’t work, be glad you can eliminate it from the process and try something else. Focus on it only long enough to establish why it didn’t work, and learn from it. Identify the elements that have worked and build on them.
You can achieve anything!