The Forgotten (or Missing) Element to Achieving Goals

Is it just me or does it seem like everyone talks about setting goals, yet only a handful seem to accomplish their goals?  I’ve learned about setting goals since elementary school, so I’m pretty good at writing my goals, but only after employing techniques that helped me accomplish my goals did I begin to see results.

Even my school-aged children were being taught the SMART goal setting formula that I’ve seen repeatedly.   Not familiar with a SMART goal?  Here’s a quick rundown of what SMART stands for and you can get more information by searching the Internet for “SMART Goals.”

S     =      Specific

M     =     Measurable

A     =     Attainable

R     =     Realistic

T     =     Time-related

Okay, that seems simple enough.  I’ve written many SMART goals, but something seems to happen once they are on paper.  The problem is that’s where they stay…on paper…unless you remember to include a very important element to goal setting.  So what’s missing? Accountability and Reward

The written goals on paper required me to hold myself accountable.  Like many others who have their written goals, it was easy to let myself off the hook.

So here’s what I learned about the final and extremely important element of ACHIEVING goals.

  • Reward yourself. Plan small rewards at various milestones at the time you set the goal.   It can be something   small that you enjoy and will keep you motivated to work toward the next milestone.  For example, when I was preparing for a certification exam I knew I had a set amount of time before taking the final exam.  I set milestones for the end of each week.  At the end of each week if I accomplished my study goals for that week, I rewarded myself with a mini-reward (a weekend break, dinner with friends, something simple).
  • Track your achievements. Use a tracking tool that matches your personal style.  If marking steps off a list isn’t enough of a sign of achievement, then make yourself a physical tracker for each step completed. A simple bar chart or sticker chart might do the trick.  A friend of mine purchased a cheap, large, clear vase at a craft store, along with multicolored origami paper. As she accomplished each step she created an origami critter and tossed it in the vase. It was a clever, visual representation of her progress and at the end she ended up with a colorful origami vase for her table.  There are also apps that make excellent trackers.  Think about the devices and apps that track what you eat, how much you weigh and how many steps you take…all are achievement trackers.
  • Get a buddy. Find someone who can provide encouragement, support and motivation as you achieve your goal.  Or better yet, if you have a friend or family member who also wants to make a change, join forces! Check up on each other, push each other and motivate each other.

Life has a habit of getting in the way of plans. Do not be discouraged by this. Be strict with the timeline, but also be realistic and flexible if things go off course.  Regroup and rely on these elements to move you closer to achieving your ultimate goal.

Now that you have an idea of how to move forward, what are you waiting for? If you’re in a rut, if you feel trapped, stop the routine and change course. The only thing left to do is to act.