Are you struggling to achieve the goals you set for yourself?
There are several reasons we don’t achieve our goals. We’re not motivated enough. We’re not committed enough. We don’t break them down into chunks that are manageable enough and we come to a stand still at the first bump in the road we hit along the way.
But what if you haven’t set the right kind of goal in the first place?
There are various criteria that make a good goal. Management experts will tell you to set SMART goals. Psychologists will tell you to set goals that make you happy (goals that foster connections with people, focus on improvement and allow for automony).
But there’s one other criteria your goals need to satisfy from the outset.
Your goals need to be challenging.
Not too hard.
What makes a goal challenging?
Goals need to move you outside your comfort zone ever so slightly. If they don’t they’re unlikely to satisfy the criteria for improvement. You’re unlikely to learn anything new. You’re unlikely to remain motivated or committed enough to complete the goal and if you do you’re unlikely to feel the sense of achievement necessary to motivate you to go for your next goal.
Some of you may be guilty of setting goals that are too hard. Goals that are too hard are difficult to break down. You become overwhelmed an frustrated. Your confidence dips. You procrastainate on getting started.
But often the goals we set are too easy. They provide no challenge.
You get bored. You lose interest.
So there is a balance. A sweet spot where you are challenged enough to stay focused and motivated. You’re able to break the goal down into smaller steps and can feel yourself improving with each step you take. Your confidence grows. You remain interested enough to keep going. Excited even to get to work on it each time. And when you hit a bump in the road you are able to figure out a solution.
You may even feel ‘in flow’ while working on these kinds of goals.
So the next time you feel like you’re making no progress on a goal you’ve set, ask yourself if you’ve set the right kind of goal. If it’s too hard, simplify it. If it’s too easy, make it more challenging. If you’re not sure ask yourself these too questions:
1) Is it overwhelming? If the answer is yes it’s too hard. Too hard may mean it’s technically too challenging (perhaps you need to learn a new skill first) or that you’ve simply taken on too much and need to reduce the workload.
2) Will I learn anything new? If the answer is no, it’s probably not challenging enough. You need to adjust the goal so that you will learn something new.
So to recap, a challenging goal:
- Moves you just outside your comfort zone so that you will learn something new
- Can be broken down into smaller steps
- Is interesting enough to keep you motivated and committed
Do you set challenging goals? As usual I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.