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Goal setting is challenging. We set goals for our careers. We set goals for our health. We set goals for our personal ambitions. But so often, we get frustrated by our inability to achieve our goals.

The problem with our goals isn’t our willingness to work hard. Most folks are hard workers! Rather, it is that we don’t set goals that make sense.

Common wisdom is that we should set our goals based on outcomes. For instance, “I will lose 10 pounds in three months.” Or, “I will publish a book in two years.” Or, “I will get a better job in the next six months.” Those are all wonderful things to wish for. But they aren’t good goals.

The problem with those goals is that you have no control over them. For example, you cannot control how much weight you will lose. All kinds of factors contribute to whether we can lose weight. Our age, metabolism, stress level and medications all affect whether we are able to lose weight. You likewise cannot control if someone is willing to publish your book, or if someone is willing to hire you. Those are all things that are outside of your control.

Your goals should be based on things that are within your control. So, while you can’t control how much weight you will lose, you can control your diet and exercise regime. As a result, while an unreasonable goal is, “I will lose 10 pounds,” an attainable goal is, “I will exercise every day for 30 minutes.” Exercising for 30 minutes is something that is entirely within your control. You simply have to choose to take 30 minutes out of each day to exercise.

Similarly, while you can’t control whether a publisher will want your book, you can commit to writing 2 pages of your book each day. You can choose to take the time to finish writing the novel of your dreams, which is a massive achievement. You likewise can’t control whether someone will hire you, but you can decide to send out three job applications per week. Or you can decide to learn a new skill which will bolster your resume.

The other way people create goals that don’t make sense is when they try to accomplish things for which they have no aptitude.  I could set a goal for myself to be a super model, but that would be silly. I am 5’ 6” and am a middle-aged lady. I simply don’t have the natural attributes to be a super model.

So, when it comes to setting goals, know thyself. Pick goals that grow the talents that you already possess. For instance, if you are musically talented, you might pick as a goal to practice your instrument for 30 minutes each day. Or, if you are strong and flexible, you might commit to taking a yoga class three times a week to bolster your physical and mental health. The added benefit is that when you work at goals that capitalize on your natural talents, accomplishing your goals feels less like “work” and more like “fun.”

Lastly, pick goals to please yourself, not other people. Why? No one else will sufficiently appreciate your efforts! For instance, sticking to an exercise regime and healthy diet takes some doing. So, do it for yourself. Don’t do it for your spouse. He or she will never adequately appreciate how hard it is for you to make those kinds of lifestyle changes. Instead, make healthy lifestyle choices for yourself.  Then give yourself a pat on the back when you achieve them. You deserve it!

We naturally want to keep improving ourselves until the day that we die. So, be sure to pick goals for your life that make sense. If you do, you’ll be more successful in achieving them, and you’ll feel great!

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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