Goal setting, personal growth, and having purpose
Updated: Jan 28
Contributing editor Alisa Camplin believes turning your goals into a reality is always possible with some planning and practice.
When people think about goals, they usually think about the big things – winning gold at the Olympics, closing a huge business deal, buying a house or reaching your target weight.
In reality, goal setting isn't just about achieving those pinnacle moments; it’s about taking small, decisive steps that move you in a positive direction, bringing you one step closer to being your best possible self.
We weren't born to be stagnant, we were born to grow. Setting and working towards personal and professional goals is vital to our overall wellbeing. It nourishes us, engages us and enables us to make a valuable contribution to our world. It gives our lives focus, purpose and direction.
Having something to strive for enables us to improve and grow, and to find joy, satisfaction and self-efficacy within that. Our goals give us clarity about what’s important to us, and as we progress towards their achievement we are rewarded for our effort. Achieving our goals allows us to make an impact. To step forward and do something positive. To create new and better habits through ongoing dedication and commitment.
Pride in the process
Two key elements to goal achievement are continuous effort and deliberate practice. As adults, we tend to fall into a very binary way of thinking – we can either do something, or we can’t – but think back to being a child. Everything you learnt, whether it was math in school or games in the playground, was about learning the basics, then coming back day after day to practice your new skills, slowly building your confidence.
Yet as adults, we think if we haven't got it right after the first or second time, we should give up. In actual fact, goal planning is about breaking things down to a point where you can succeed. It’s important to make the first steps basic, so you can build momentum to tackle the more challenging steps.
When things get tough, you need to believe that your challenge is temporary; just a problem you haven’t solved yet. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, lean on your support structure and ask for what you need, whether it be encouragement, resources or advice. Take pride in your commitment and hang in there. Don’t give up.
The process of setting a goal, tracking your progress and hitting your milestones is immensely valuable. It allows you to take pleasure in the process of self-improvement as you work towards the mastery of your craft. It’s empowering knowing that you’ve worked hard at something, that you hung in there until you got it, and that you are entirely responsible for the result.
Breaking it down
Big goals are rarely easy to achieve, and that’s OK. We should expect that some things in life are hard to achieve – they’re often the things that we deeply care about and are most worth pursuing. They are also the goals that provide us with the largest opportunity for growth.
The key to achieving bigger goals is taking the time to break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. You should consider each of the elements that might be required for success and then create little milestones to aim for. Having a plan or a structured framework to follow will allow you to better track and manage your progress along the way.
When you do reach a target, find a way to celebrate. Enjoy the fruits of your labour and use that success as motivation to take the next step. This technique is simple, repeatable, and enables ongoing sustainable success.
Goal achievement is not just about saying you want to do something and getting it done. It's about your choice to create change – knowing you have the power and capability to achieve, and then having the courage to continuously move forward, one step at a time.
It doesn’t have to be about tackling a fun run or even a marathon. It could just be about going for a walk every day for your own physical health, and getting your colleagues, partner or your kids out there too.
Break down the attributes of what's required to achieve your goal, set some milestones, and don’t forget to plan for those things that might derail you. The readier you are to succeed, the more likely you will.
If motivation, self-discipline or accountability are not your strong point, then take the time to write down why you really want to achieve your goal, and share that with someone close to you. Better still, ask them to be involved or team up with someone who has a similar goal. Reporting in to someone not only gives you a greater chance of success, but it also connects you with others, deepens your relationships and allows you to inspire.
Dr Lydia Ievleva is an author and coordinator for the Happiness and Positive Psychology course within the Master of Wellness program at RMIT University.
"We tend to behave consistently with whatever self-image is dominant at the time, and we often have several competing images (based on the memory of past experience) swirling around in our minds simultaneously. To increase our chances of success, it’s best to get proactively in control over our images and align them with goals in our best interests. Practising imagery of being our best possible/future self is gaining increasing attention and support amongst positive psychology researchers.
"The basic premise for practising best future self imagery is that a good image of how one would like to be in the future (positive prospection) will influence present focus and decisions. For example, if one is aiming to become super fit and can imagine it by this time next year – then how one behaves and choices made today will more likely be consistent with that image (unless there are conflicting images or urges that are stronger).
"Engaging in such an activity has been found to improve wellbeing in terms of optimistic outlook and improved mood (i.e., positivity), important in the pursuit of challenging goals."
Lydia is the author of ‘Imagine: Using mental imagery to reach your full potential’.
Originally published on www.onelife.aiavitality.com.au on July 20, 2017.
Alisa Camplin is an Olympic Gold Medalist, in-demand Keynote Speaker, Corporate Ambassador, and Human Performance Consultant who delivers results-driven Resilience and Human Performance Training and Development Programs. Connect with Alisa.