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A How-To Guide: Setting and Maintaining Goals

Posted By Stephanie Finné, Northeastern Illinois University,, Monday, March 5, 2018


A How-To Guide:
Setting and Maintaining Goals

I recently wrote an article about how to prepare for the upcoming semester, which you can read HERE. In that article, I talked about setting goals/intentions for the upcoming semester so that you can have a clear view of what you want to accomplish. By doing this, you will be able to stay on track during the semester. Since then, I thought I should do a post on how to set goals and intentions in depth and in detail. Having goals guides your focus and attention to the things that matter in your life. And the amazing aspect of goals is that you can start them whenever you like! So what better time to start than now! In this article, I will give five tips that I have used when I set my own goals for the year, and hopefully they will help you as well.

1. Write Out Your Goals

What are your goals for the year? Why do you want to achieve them? These are the questions that will help you set your goals. Once you have determined those details, write your goals down on paper! I'm sure you've heard this, time and time again, but research has shown that you are more likely to achieve your goals when you write them down. When you write things down, it solidifies the words in your mind, and it sets a constant reminder for you to stick with your goals. It also keeps you accountable and committed to your goals once you have written them down on paper.

2. Put Your Goals Where You Can See Them

What good are goals if you do not have a constant reminder of them on a daily basis? Your goals should be somewhere you can see them as a reminder for you to stick with them. Display your goals anywhere and everywhere you look on a regular basis: on your fridge, as the screen saver of your laptop, or the background of your phone. The main idea is that you want to have your goals in your face and in a place that you will regularly see them. This not only serves as a reminder, but it can also keep you motivated to stick to your goals.

3. Reflect on Your Goals on a Weekly Basis

Try to check in with yourself on a weekly basis to see if you are on track with your goals. This is a great way to keep yourself accountable when setting goals because, once the week is over, you know you will have to check in with yourself to see how you are progressing. This is also an important opportunity to find any aspects of your goals that you may need to work on or restructure. Also, keep a record of your reflections and share them with someone. This is an excellent way to keep yourself accountable because, when you make your weekly check in, you will also consult with a supportive friend to keep you on track as well.

4. Start Slow (Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew)

Just because you have a goal, it does not mean that everything will change overnight. Keep your goals realistic and start small. Once you realize that you have hit a milestone, then go bigger. For example, if your goal is to procrastinate less, it probably would not be realistic for you to say that you will get started on your work as soon as you get home. You may need to relax and unwind before you get into doing your work. So maybe start by saying, “When I get home, I am going to relax for 30 minutes, and then I will start on my work.” By doing this, the task will not seem so overwhelming, and you will still be able to accomplish your goal.

5. Have a Game Plan (How Do Your Overall Goals Impact Your Routine?)

Going along with point number four, make sure you have a plan in place for how you can incorporate your goals into your everyday life. Take procrastination, for example. If you made a goal to procrastinate less, try to look at your day and see if there is a time in your schedule where there might not be so much activity. From there, schedule in some work you need to get done rather than filling it up with time-wasting activities. You should not have to turn your whole life upside down when you've established your goals; they should fit well within your day-to-day routine.

There you have it, a guide to goal setting that will keep you focused for any time you want to start a new goal (or continuing some old ones) and maintain them. These five easy steps, writing them out, putting them where they will be seen, reflecting on your goals, starting slowly, and having a game plan, will help you stay on track and stick with your goals no matter what obstacles come your way.

Tags:  A Better You 

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