Give goals an objective and achieve them

Everyone sets goals from time to time. But how do you ensure that you actually achieve goals?

Every year, millions of people worldwide set goals at the beginning of the new year. They want to exercise more, watch less TV, drink less, and so on. Most of those targets are never achieved. And that is not surprising, because most goals miss a goal themselves.

Every year, millions of people worldwide set goals at the beginning of the new year. They want to exercise more, watch less TV, drink less, and so on. Most of those targets are never achieved. And that is not surprising, because most goals miss a goal themselves.

An objective must have a purpose. The Why of the goal? Suppose, like me, you want to know more about how people learn and think. Learning this takes time and requires discipline. Discipline is easier when you know why you do something: the goal of the objective. In my example, I could aim at writing a course that helps people learn.

The next one is about the path to the goal. In my case, I can say that I want to read 5 articles a week on the chosen topic. By reading, I will learn about it. But, are those 500-word articles or 5,000-word articles? And what do I know after that?

Mentioning a number of articles seems clear. Yet, it says little about what I will learn during the week. In other words, it doesn't tell me what I want to achieve with reading. It lacks a purpose and that has the risk of wasting time reading what, to me, is meaningless information. It feels like working towards achieving the goal, when in reality it isn't.

When you set a goal, you must first have a clear idea of ​​the problem you are solving. That can be an actual problem, but also something else like learning about a topic. In my example, it is the latter: how do people learn and think. This is the end goal, and that in turn has the goal of writing a course.

Get in charge by breaking down goals

The road to the end goal consists of several steps, and the more complex the end goal, the more steps. This means dividing the goal into smaller parts. An intermediate step can itself also have intermediate steps. You peel the end goal down to a level that you have manageable chunks. You continue until you have a problem statement that you can oversee because smaller items are also easier to understand. It takes complexity out of the problem.

This method also applies to other areas, such as more exercise. Here too, you set yourself an end goal. For example, you want to run ten kilometers in a row. A first intermediate step can be running for five minutes.

Goal setting frequently leads to failures because people treat it as one big problem. As a result, it is often unnecessarily complex and unattainable. Sub-goals reduce the complexity and give you insight into the progress.

Back to the example of how people learn and think. We want a more clear goal than reading five articles a week. For this, we peel off the end goal in the beginning, so that sub-problems have. One is spaced repetition – a method of learning. I want to know how this works and in which situations it works. Understanding this will be my intermediate goal for the coming week. It brings me one step closer to my objective.

In summary: achieving goals requires clear goals, be realistic and set sub-goals. When you do that, and you consistently spend time on it, achieving goals becomes a lot easier.