Achieving success in 2016
Melody Beattie puts it beautifully in her quote: The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.
And, whilst much has been written about goals and successful goal-setting, we are all too familiar with the fact that many of our goals never see the light of day.
In the first blog of the New Year, I am going to address this issue, by referring to the work of motivational psychologist and researcher, Heidi Grant Halvorson. What makes the difference between actually successfully achieving goals or not? Well, according to researcher Grant Halvorson in her book, Succeed – how we can reach our goals, it is important that you set your goal targets high, that is: difficult but not unachievable. Whilst you still want to challenge yourself, and so motivate yourself, it is about being a realistic optimist.
So, ask yourself today what are the specific goals that you have in mind for 2017? Be specific and focus on challenging yourself as you spend some time thinking about this and then committing it to paper.
It is also equally important to ensure that you have the necessary confidence in being able to achieve these challenging goals, whilst acknowledging that there will obstacles and difficulties in achieving them. Confidence includes the effort, and planning required and a healthy dose of perseverance. According to Halvorson, successful people not only have the confidence that they will eventually succeed, but are equally confident that they will have a tough time getting there. I believe it is this paradox, which prevents people from achieving their goals- they expect the journey to be easy and without any setback and of course, give up as soon as they realize that achieving their goals will not be without struggle or sacrifice. The most optimal strategy to achieve your goals is to think about it realistically, by means of a process called mental contrasting, a psychological process which entails imagining (visualizing, if you will) the outcome and then comparing and contrasting this with all the challenges and obstacles that you may be faced with along the way. However, it is not mere visualization as in simply picturing the outcome, there is an added complexity: take care to also consider the challenges!
Mental contrasting allows us to stimulate the process for achieving the goal, rather than the hoped-for outcome. This leads to both a more positive attitude as well as to greater preparation and planning to achieve the goal. All in all, this means that the chances are greater that you will be successful in the much hoped for change. This finding reminds me of the quote by Henry David Thoreau: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Her research also shows that it is important to set yourself getting better at rather than being good at goals. Rather than being obsessed by being perfect and then giving up when we are faced with setbacks, seeing our goals as getting better at, means we do not over-identify with these goals and that there is always room for improvement – definitely a winning formula to view setbacks as feedback for improvement and growth rather than personal failures.
Finally, according to Halvorson’s research, a sense of psychological well-being is created by a focus on intrinsic goals, such as personal growth and development, on making progress on ourselves rather than on goals that are based on the approval and validation of others. These type of extrinsically motivated goals, which are focused on external self-worth, do not lead to a greater sense of happiness or well-being. Sadly, they actually diminish your sense of well-being.
Now that you have greater insight into how to ensure success, go ahead and set them! I highly recommend visiting smartgoalsguide.com to access free goal-setting templates and getting the good work started.