The importance of effective preparation, post setting our goals, cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success.
Interestingly, research by neurologists, setting goals pushes us to invest in the target ‘as if we’ve already accomplished it’. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that the desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfil the brain’s self-image.
We use the same amount of energy to think about a goal as we do to prepare to achieve it so once we’ve got clear on what we’re striving for, it’s time to invest our energy into preparing to achieve it. At Favourite Positions, we’d argue that the prep work and focused investment of our time is the most exhilarating part. Let us tell you why it’s important to set your intentions and then how to go about preparing to succeed (and loving doing so in the process).
So, you might be wondering why you need goals in the first place. This may especially be the case if you already have certain targets you have to work towards that feel out of your control, such as projects you’re working on at work that were tasked to you by a manager. We get it, life can feel extremely stressful and you may well just want to relax in your own time and not feel the pressure of having to ‘work’ towards something else. Honestly, that makes sense.
But what if we told you that that in itself is a goal… a goal of a life where you can spend quality time recuperating and not feeling overwhelmed. We often hear the word goal and picture something big, something challenging and usually something with enormous financial implications, like buying a house, having a business that generates 6 figures, never having to work again, for example.
Before we go any further, let’s have a little look into where this idea has come from. Where did the word goal even come from?! Accordingly to our trusty source, Google, the word goal, then spelled gole, was first found in the first half of the 16th century, with the meaning “finishing point of a race, finish line.” The extended sense “aim or purpose, outcome of effort or ambition” also dates from the first half of the 16th century. By the late 16th century, goal, at this point spelled goale, had also acquired the meaning, “starting point of a race”. Fascinating… so a goal wasn’t actually intended to just be a descriptive word for the end point of something but also the very beginning.
Another fun fact for you: studies showed that people who have ambitious goals showed better performance and outputs compared to those who didn’t.
Considering this, having goals is truly integral if you want to live a purposeful life and if you’re not thinking about your goals then that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, it just means that your goal is to live without striving for something externally. So the choice here is yours, you can be intentional about your goals and then enjoy the process of working towards them or you can tell yourself you don’t have goals (but really you do, they’re just not the traditional type) and take more of a blind path in trying to achieve them. There is no right or wrong, there is just a more prepared option available if that makes you feel good. Just don’t forget, whichever route you take, a goal isn’t just about the end point but also the start point, too.
Have you ever heard of SMART goals? Originally conceived by George T. Doran in a 1981 paper, this formula for accomplishing goals has been used in various forms ever since. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. The strength of SMART goals is that they set a clear path and they have a realistic time frame in which to achieve all associated parts of said goal.
To read more about how to use this formula, click here.
Your goals give you direction. This direction you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your vision for your life, rather than wandering around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviours as you continue moving forward. How exhilarating is that?! You’re able to make choices every day that get you towards living the life you dream of.
Having a vision for your life, or the next 5 years, or even just the next 1 year / 6 months / 1 month is one of the things that make our lives most exciting.
Many people never take time to figure out how they can get from point A to point B so sadly, they don’t feel they can fully achieve their goals and live the life they envision.
Have you ever thought about your dreams and convinced yourself that only a select few people ever achieve their dreams then struggle not to write yourself off as someone who is not meant to reach that level of success? Today is the day to stop doing that. Remember: We use the same amount of energy to think about a goal as we do to prepare to achieve it. Use your energy wisely!
Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating but goal setting helps us break large goals down into smaller ones. These more manageable steps and achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal.
They form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families and our communities. Think about the mountain climbing analogy: the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step-by-step.
It’s also important to note that people who write down their goals are 33% more successful in achieving them compared to those who only thought of the outcome goals in their heads!
The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!