Whether or not you realize it, you set goals every day. You set small goals like “I want to be out of the house by 8” or “I want to finish this project by noon.” Maybe you set big goals like “I want to buy a house” or “I want to get a raise.” I want is such a simple statement. Young children say it constantly. It is very easy to make general demands. It is far more difficult to articulate our precise wants and desires. More challenging is developing a roadmap to achieve them.

How to Set Goals

Guidelines for Successful Goal-Setting

1. Choose the right goals.

What are you truly committed to? Life is too short to strive for any goal that does not motivate you. Tuning out the ‘herd mentality’ to determine what you actually want is challenging. Many people spend decades chasing a goal they think they want to achieve, simply because others also want to achieve that goal. Maybe your goal is to become CEO of a large corporation and make millions of dollars. Or maybe your goal is to become a skilled painter and live a modest, comfortable life. Accept that there are multiple definitions of success, but that you only need to concern yourself with yours.

2. Write them down.

Research has shown that successful people write down their goals. According to one study from the Harvard MBA Program, graduate students were asked if they have set clear goals for their futures and if they have written down plans to turn these dreams into realities. The result was that only 3 percent of the students had written goals and plans to accomplish them, 13 percent had goals in mind but hadn’t written them down, and 84 percent had no specific goals. A decade later, the same students were interviewed again. The 13 percent of the class who had goals, but did not write them down, earned twice the amount of the 84 percent who had no goals. The 3 percent who had written goals were earning, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined. Put your goals in writing.

3. Have a positive mindset.

Focus on the solution, not the problem. When you are writing down your goals, phrase them positively. For example, instead of “watch less TV,” phrase your goal as “get outside more.” For “spend less money” write “save more money.” “Argue less with my partner” would translate to “spend more time with my partner.” Focusing on the solution instead of the problem will motivate you and prevent you from manifesting limiting beliefs.

Write Down Goals to Achieve Them

You cannot reach a destination if you don’t know how to get there. Research has shown that successful people write down their goals.

4. Create a plan.

You cannot reach a destination if you don’t know how to get there. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a GPS for achieving your goals? “Siri, tell me how to become Vice President of Sales!” Unfortunately, this is a plan you will have to create for yourself. Track your goal in whatever way feels most natural to you: a spreadsheet, an app, a journal. Next, take these steps:

  • Determine, realistically, how much time it will take to achieve your goals.
  • Work backwards from this date and set benchmarks or small achievements that build up to your goal.
  • Break your goals into small actionable steps and assign realistic timelines for each.
  • Continue to break big steps into smaller steps until the goal seems less daunting and more achievable.
  • Celebrate every accomplishment along the way! Determine how you will reward yourself after each benchmark to stay motivated.

5. Think big.

You have to think big. Achieving your goals is about tapping into your creative and resourceful energy to get things done. You cannot do this unless you are healthy — both physically and mentally.

“The only way you’ll be able to succeed is if you take care of yourself. Whatever you think is what you become, so think big,” says Dr. Avdhoot Shivanand of AVS Mindfulness. “You can only think big when you are in state of mindfulness — when your body and mind are in-sync.”

Dr. Shivanand emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for your mental health and managing stress through mindfulness. Without our bodies and our health, nothing else matters. ‘Thinking big’ relies on a clear, calm, focused mind and healthy body. One of the many ways successful moguls and entrepreneurs maintain their focus and achieve their goals is by practicing mindfulness meditation regularly.

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful stress-reducer that requires dedicated daily practice. You can start your meditation practice today with this 3-Minute Guided Meditation from AVS Mindfulness. Visit avsmindfulness.com to learn how more about our instructional mindfulness meditation app, slated for release in 2018.

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