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How and why you should set goals

As the New Year rolls around once again (I swear it comes round faster each year!) it’s the season a lot of us decide to set ourselves some goals. These could be physical – more exercise and a better diet maybe to help lose a few pounds. They could be work related – be more productive and get that promotion or bringing a packed lunch into work, to save pounds and lose pounds. More often than not, however, by the time February rears its chilly head most of us haven’t used that new gym membership for weeks or have been to Pret every day for lunch this week (because we all know their hot wraps are incredible).
The fact is it’s difficult to keep goals. We might think other people are just predisposed to be better at certain things than others, and sadly for us we’re just not one of those people who are good at getting up at 6am each morning to go for a run. But by setting achievable goals in the right way, you too can accomplish things you wouldn’t have thought possible. Here are a few tips I’ve put together from immersing myself in the advice of successful people on how to set yourself goals in the right way, and how to achieve them:


  • Be specific
    It’s easy to say ‘I want to lose weight’ but without having a target in mind it’s difficult to know when you have achieved your goal. Would losing one pound mean you could stop trying? By setting yourself a goal such as ‘I want to lose 10 pounds’ you have something specific to aim for and you have a clear picture of what success will look like, as well as feeling a greater sense of achievement when you get there.


  • Be realistic, but optimistic
    While you might dream of changing your life in a substantial way, the reality is it can be difficult to achieve certain aims. Setting yourself goals you know are achievable is important, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim high. While you know it might be difficult to lose those 10 pounds keeping a positive mental attitude about getting there will keep you motivated and make achieving that goal much more likely.


  • Write things down and make them public
    Studies have shown that you are much more likely to reach your goals if you have them written down. Whether this is done with a pen and paper, in a journal, on a word document or even an online blog having those goals outside of your own mind makes them more real and means you’re more likely to treat them seriously – and ultimately achieve them. An online blog is a great way to tell others about your goals without making a public announcement on your lunch break. And if you don’t enjoy spending time building one, you can quickly create one using sites like


  • Choose the right time
    If you are particularly busy at work or are going through a stressful time in your personal life it can make achieving those goals that much more difficult. So a good tip is to set out on your goals when you have the time to do so. Choosing a difficult time and then failing to achieve what you hoped can make you feel a lot worse. Planning when you’re going to work on your goals will take you one step closer to reaching them. Another good tip is to actually schedule in when you’re going to work on your goals, whether that means keeping a diary with the times you’re going to hit the gym or setting your alarm half an hour earlier to prepare a healthy breakfast, it means you can’t say you didn’t have enough time to do what you aimed to do.


  • Build up your self control
    Just like every other muscle in the body, our willpower needs exercise. Set yourself smaller targets to achieve. This could be to stop buying takeaways or walking to work every day for a week. Making yourself complete these tasks will strengthen your willpower muscle and make achieving your bigger goals that much easier.


Following these top five tips will help you set and achieve attainable goals. After you’ve reached each goal you can start setting yourself even bigger targets to achieve things you didn’t think would be possible!

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