5 Secrets to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Goal, plan, action

At the start of each year, it’s traditional for many people to devise their goals for the year.

Setting goals is great, as they give us a sense of direction and motivation. Having goals to tick off throughout the year as we achieve them also gives us things to celebrate – and we know the human brain thrives on reward.

But sadly many people lose track of their goals only a few weeks in to the year, often reverting back to their old habits, and end the year wondering why they didn’t make any improvements.

So, to prevent you falling into the same trap, here are 5 secrets to ensure you meet your study goals in 2023.

1. Know Your Why

It’s really hard to focus on a goal if you’re really only thinking about the final achievement rather than the desire behind it.

Think about it, if you wanted to save money and decided to make your goal $1000 you might start off strong, but gradually you would lose the impetus to put money away as the goal serves little purpose. However, if you were to say ‘I’m going to save $1000 for a new phone’ it would be easier to save.

If you decide to start going to the gym, you might set the goal of losing 12kg. But this isn’t really the ‘why’ behind this desire. What will happen if you lose 9kg. Will you feel like a failure? If you lose 12kg will you stop there, having met your goal?

A better goal would be to create the determination to become more fit and improve your physical health – after all, this is why most of us really start an exercise regime.

Knowing what the desire behind the goal really is will help us to stick to it. Even if you don’t lose all 12kg, you will still be physically fitter than you were when you started – which is definitely worth celebrating.

Studying is the same. Why do you want to improve your results? Is it because there is a specific course you want to do in the future? Is it because this subject is a pre-requisite for another? Is it damaging your self esteem? Do you have a competitive drive to out-perform someone else? Knowing your motivation will help keep you committed to the end-game.

2. Keep Your Goals Realistic

One of the main reasons people fail to stay dedicated to their goals is that they set themselves up for failure.

Yes, it’s good to dream big, but thinking too big makes your goal overwhelming and unachievable, causing you to give up – and possibly beat yourself up in the process.

If you have never done any exercise, it’s not a great idea to decide your goal is to run a marathon in the middle of the year.

As they say, you need to learn to walk before you can run.

When it comes to your studies, a student who has never actually passed the subject would be unrealistic in setting a goal to get an A in the first term. This might be the long term goal, but start with just getting a solid C and passing the subject!

Setting challenging, but realistically achievable goals will make you less inclined to give up.

3. Break Goals Down into Smaller Steps

Again, one of the biggest challenges in sticking to your study goals is the need to manage the sense of overwhelm.

Rather than striving for the one large and daunting goal, think about the small steps you would need to achieve along the way.

If you were going on a long drive, you would have your final destination as your end goal, but would find places for short stops along the way, making these your interim goals.

The same applies to your studies. To get straight As from where you are now, what goals might you need to meet along the way?

Breaking the goal down like this not only saves you from feeling overwhelmed and tempted to give up.

It also means that you can reward yourself and celebrate your achievement as you meet each interim goal, which keeps you motivated and determined to continue.

4. Provide Clarity for Your Goals

Remember, a goal without a plan is just a dream.

Without a definite time frame we will never meet our goals as we need the sense of urgency to motivate us into taking action.

Parkinson’s Law illustrates that a task expands to meet the time allocated to it. So, without a definite timeframe, we can go about fulfilling our goal in a very casual manner. We might eventually get there, but the sense that it is dragging out will destroy our motivation or sense of achievement.

It’s also important to write your goals down. This helps to add a level of accountability to your decision. It also means that you can look back at your goal when you are starting to give up. This will remind you of why you set the goal in the first place and just how determined you felt at that time. Draw on these feelings to help give yourself a boost of energy and commitment.

5. Live the Dream

Our brain can’t actually distinguish fact from fiction. Instead, it uses our emotions to determine what we want more of. If we are experiencing the joy and fulfilment of success, our brains will realise that we want more of that and will do everything possible to help us achieve more.

If, however, we focus on what we don’t have, our brain will decide that is the state we are most comfortable existing in and will ensure we get more of that to keep us happy.

So, the trick is to ‘see it before you can be it’. In other words, you need to visualise your life as it will be after you have achieved your goal.

How will you feel? What will you see and do? Who will be with you to celebrate? What will this change in your life?

Focussing on this future will encourage your brain to do whatever it can to help make it come true.

(Although, obviously you need to put the work in as well!)

 

Ultimately, it’s important to set yourself goals as these are what give us motivation, energy and determination. Without goals we will just continue on as normal and not make any advancements in our lives.

Goals are a very personal thing and need to be based on your true personal desires. It is hard enough to strive to achieve a goal to which you are utterly committed, but considerably harder to try to achieve someone else’s dream.

Setting challenging, but realistic goals helps to ensure that we emerge from the year just a little better than we went into it, giving us a sense of accomplishment that boosts our serotonin levels making us feel happy and positive.

Besides, if nothing else, setting and meeting your goals provides you with the perfect excuse to celebrate your achievements.