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6 Goal Setting Tips Based on Science

Each year, millions of people set New Year’s resolutions.

Few of those people are still on track after just 10 days.

Goal setting seems simple on the surface. You define what you’d like to accomplish and take steps to make those accomplishments a reality.

However, it often turns out to be more difficult to accomplish than we’d hope.

Follow these 6 tips to set goals and achieve them more reliably:

  1. Set goals that are meaningful. Don’t waste time with goals that don’t mean very much to you. Life is short, so create goals that fill you with excitement when you think about achieving them.
  2. Use small, incremental behavioral changes. If you try to change too much at once, you’re likely to get burned out. Change can be done more easily if the changes are small. This requires patience, but it makes success more likely. For example, if you’re trying to build your emergency savings, setting aside a small amount to save each week will succeed better than a goal to save $5,000.
  3. Keep goals believable. The perfect goal is challenging, but not so challenging that you feel overwhelmed. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to achieve something out of reach.
  4. Be accountable. It’s very helpful to have a partner you check in with regularly on the progress towards your goal. It can be also be effective to make yourself accountable to each other for your poor behavior. For example, each time you skip going to the gym, you give $10 to a charity of your partner’s choice or you wash their car.
  5. Track your progress. Measuring your progress is extremely important. It provides information on how well you’re doing. You can’t know if you’re making progress toward your goal if you don’t measure it. You can shift your strategy if you realize that you’re not doing well. You can also be more motivated to continue when you see how well you are doing.
  6. Be prepared for setbacks. Achieving any goal is rarely a smooth process. There will be bad days with poor results. Rather than reject your goal when the going gets tough, be prepared for failures. Give yourself permission to fail, and then try again.

Goals are necessary if you want to consciously change your life. Most people struggle to set and achieve goals. Set and pursue goals intelligently. You’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve.

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