A Goal-Setting Theory study published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Psychology, found that the practice of goal setting is straightforward: set a specific, high goal, and the result will be high performance. A specific goal will focus an individual’s attention on goal-relevant activities.
Meanwhile, in a Harvard Business School MBA study on goal setting, the graduating class was asked: “Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment?” It found that a mere 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them.
Those of us who do set goals often find ourselves wavering in those goals. As a result, we can end up in a situation or place in life we don’t desire. However, when you create a success plan, you can incrementally work towards it until you achieve it, and evaluate when necessary.
Here are three simple ways to set yourself up for success with a clear and easy action plan that is straight forward and easy to stick with through the year.
1. Create an incremental success plan
Set your goals every 90 days. Creating short term goals to work towards will keep you focussed and on track to achievement. It enables you to produce quick wins and keep your blinders to focus on what is coming in the short term. This approach will also keep you motivated to achieve the next goal and keep you moving in the right direction.
2. Keep it simple
You can segment your 90-day plan into 3 consecutive 30-day goals (e.g., Month 1, 2, and 3). Get clear on what you would like to achieve within each monthly time frame. This will allow you to stay on track and be even more focused. When you break your larger 90-day plan into 3 months, you can create simple action steps to help you move towards your goals.
3. Write your goals down
I know you’ve probably heard this before (and there’s a good reason why high-performance achievers and goal-setters live by this rule). When you write your goals down you activate the neural pathways in your brain and a cluster of neural pathways in your brain called the reticular activating system. This enables you to begin noticing opportunities that will help you achieve your goals.
For perspective, “Hiking trails are similar to your brain pathways. Just as a grassy path becomes flattened, matted and worn away every time a hiker walks over it, as you focus on something with your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you strengthen your brain pathways. Over the days, months and years a well-traveled hiking trail becomes a well-worn pathway. “
It’s similar to the effect of buying a new car and then all of a sudden everyone that passes you on your regular route has that same car! It’s the “Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, otherwise known as frequency illusion or recency illusion. This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject — or that it is swiftly surrounding you. And you’re not crazy; you are totally seeing it more. But the thing is, of course, that’s because you’re noticing it more.”
When you set your goals, write them down, and read them as often as possible. In my book, The Females Handbook: Step into your Personal Potential, I recommend looking at your goals daily. As a result, you give yourself more opportunities to see the possibilities around you.
Rebecca Lockwood is a mum of two girls, best-selling author, and NLP coach and trainer who teaches female entrepreneurs the art and science of NLP. You can get a free copy of Rebecca’s book The Females Handbook: Step into your Personal Potential by visiting RebeccaLockwood.org.uk. Connect with @RebeccaLCoach on Twitter.
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