September is the perfect time of year to begin something new, wouldn’t you agree?
It a season that’s often associated with fresh starts: a new year of school, new things to learn, new obstacles to overcome. This month, I’m embracing the spirit of fresh starts by reevaluating and reaffirming my long-term goals as I look ahead to tackling some of my biggest challenges to date.
About seven years ago, I started making written plans for achieving my goals because, as the saying goes, goals that aren’t written down are just wishes. I’ve been following the SMART goal template, making sure my plans are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
On paper, it feels like I’m doing everything right, but I know I could be doing a lot more to increase my chances for long-term, ongoing success. I’ve reviewed some of my top achievements to identify what they all have in common, and here’s what I’ve learned are some important steps towards meeting your goals.
Ask for accountability
Having a trusted confidante or mentor to keep you accountable to your goals can be a healthy motivating force. A note: when you choose to share your goals with someone, make sure it’s the right person or people. Select someone who will encourage you and hold your feet to the fire when you need to take action.
Aim for progress, not perfection
Expecting to set goals and achieve them flawlessly is a recipe for failure, leading to procrastination, distraction, and disappointment. Do yourself a favor—plan for the best, expect that achieving your goals might not go exactly as you anticipate, and be willing to be flexible when necessary.
Follow your passions
Finding motivation to move forward is so much simpler when your goals are aligned with what matters most to you. Whether it’s a personal or career goal, knowing where your heart is and following it will go a long way toward fueling your journey towards success.
Keep your goals front and center
Documenting your goals isn’t particularly useful if you don’t look at them often. In order to stay focused, it can be helpful to post your goals somewhere you can see them daily, so you’re always reminded of what you’re working towards.
Do the work
The most effective component of a successful plan: actually doing day-to-day heavy lifting to make those dreams happen. At the end of the day, this is key, so here’s a reminder to do more than just dream.
Here in this season of fresh starts, I hope you’ve been inspired to tackle your goals anew by making yourself accountable, shooting for forward progress, being motivated by what matters most, staying the course, and—most of all—doing the work. Here’s to moving from goal setting to goal getting and laying a foundation for the life of your dreams.