Why You Aren’t Meeting Your Goals and How to Change That This Year

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If you’ve spent any time with our Pivot: Shift Ahead and Inspire Collective communities, you’ll probably recognize the name Jon Acuff. As a best-selling author and self-proclaimed goals nerd, he’s a friend of these groups and visits us to share his advice on setting and achieving goals for ourselves. Since January is the “Superbowl” of goals for him, what better time than now to have him join us and point us in the right direction for the year ahead?

Start off with reflection
Before we can take any steps toward setting and accomplishing this year’s goals, it’s important to take a look back at what we’ve done previously. Jon suggests asking yourself these key questions about the prior year:
  • “What went well last year?”
  • “What did you do differently last year?”
  • “What would you change for this year?”
You’ll be able to learn what worked and what didn’t work by reflecting on the prior year. When you ask questions about the past year, you’re also setting yourself up better to ask smart questions about what you want to accomplish in the coming months. Considering asking yourself these questions when looking ahead:
  • “Where do I want to go this year?”
  • “How do I want to spend my time?”
  • “Is there anyone I need to apologize to?”
Remember, the more questions you ask yourself, the easier it is to set goals. After all, starting with a blank slate and no historical perspective can be really intimidating. But when you ask yourself a lot of questions about what you’ve done and what you hope to accomplish and then really give yourself the time and space to discover the answers, you can set a more accurate course for your goals in the coming year. That means being able to take action on the things that really matter to you.
The 4 steps to achieving goals
  1. Dream. For the next couple of weeks, go about your days as you normally would. However, now is the time to be more self-aware. Pay attention and take notes on what you focus on, what you think is important, and what resonates with you. Remember, this is the first step, so don’t get stuck here.

  2. Plan. Put aside a little bit of time to figure out how you expect to accomplish your goals. Before you can go after your goals, you have to determine what’s necessary to achieve them. You don’t need to have all the answers at this stage of the process, however, you should have enough of an idea of what to do to get into motion successfully.

  3. Do. This is when you take action on your goals. You’ve taken note of what is important to you, gone through the planning stages, and compiled the necessary information about what you’ll need to do to achieve your goals. Now it’s time to get into action.

  4. Review. Take a look at what you’ve been doing and learn from it. When you stop and consider what you’ve done so far on your journey to reach your goals, you can tinker with it to make yourself more likely to achieve success.
Following this process is Jon’s key to goal success. It’s a perpetual cycle where you can take note of what you’re having success and struggling with and then improve upon your actions to better achieve your goals.
Safeguard your goals
It’s important to remember that no one is perfect. And when you miss a goal – and you will – don’t be too hard on yourself or use it as an excuse to give up altogether. Jon suggests implementing a couple of different tactics to make sure we aren’t caught off guard if and when we fall short of our goals. For instance, using an average goal instead of a daily goal. It turns out that streak-specific goals aren’t as helpful as average goals (such as getting 10,000 steps a day versus 70,000 steps over a week). So, if we plan to accomplish something over the course of a month versus expecting to do it daily, we can build catch-up days into our schedules and plan for the days when life inherently gets the better of us. This gives us a better chance for overall success.
Jon also suggests instilling goals in our lives across a wide array of categories. Relationships and fun sometimes need goals around them as well – so don’t forget what is important to you in these areas of your life as well.
No matter the goals you set for the year ahead, don’t get fixated on the calendar. You aren’t a failure if you haven’t started goal setting on January 1st. We can start any time. The important thing is to be deliberate with what we do with our time, not to expect that our success and failure with goals are determined by our start date on the calendar.
What goal categories and goals are you looking forward to setting in the year ahead?
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