How many times have you resolved to go on a diet or look for a more rewarding job only to find yourself back to your old habits within a few days? While you may be motivated to make positive changes in your life, it’s also important to use strategies that will make you more productive.
Fortunately, there is a quick and simple technique that provides dramatic results at no cost. The secret is to make your goals more concrete.
For example, New York University psychologist Peter Gollwitzer experimented with how to make students more likely to complete an assignment. He found that students were twice as likely to finish writing an essay if they wrote down in advance when and where they were going to do it.
Imagine how much more you could accomplish if you could stick to your goals. Try these ideas for strengthening your intentions.
Using SMART Goals
You've probably heard the acronym SMART for setting goals. It's one of the most popular methods because it works.
Use these SMART techniques:
Be specific. State your goals clearly instead of letting them remain vague. It may be difficult to know when you shape up, but you'll be able to spot exactly when you lose 10 pounds or run a marathon.
Measure your progress. Create benchmarks that will keep you on track. Having interim targets will give you something to shoot for each day while you're tackling a long-term project.
Make it attainable. Understand your capacity. Make your goals challenging enough to be meaningful, but still feasible if you put in the required time and work.
Focus on results. Distinguish between the process and the outcomes. While it's important to enjoy the journey, you also want to have something to show for your efforts.
Set a time limit. Working towards a deadline will help you keep your goals in sight. You'll be less likely to let daily obligations stand in your way.
Other Tips for Strengthening Your Goals
Of course, there are many ways to increase your productivity.
Use these strategies to reinforce your goals:
Announce your intentions. Letting others know what you have in mind increases the pressure in a good way. You'll feel more accountable about living up to your claims.
Ask for help. You can accomplish more when you're willing to accept support and feedback. Team up with a friend or colleague with similar interests. Thank your family for believing in you.
Automate your choices. Turn smart decisions into habits. If you speak up in meetings on a regular basis, you'll feel less anxious about saying what's on your mind.
Minimize distractions. Turn off the TV and limit your online browsing. Free up your leisure hours for more meaningful activities.
Develop a growth mindset. Remember that your intelligence and talents are not fixed quantities beyond your control. You can grow smarter and more accomplished when you apply yourself in any area where you want to stretch your skills.
Manage stress. On the other hand, stress can sabotage your dreams. Be sure to nourish your body and mind with nutritious food, regular exercise, and adequate rest so you're ready to take on new demands.
Reward yourself. Give yourself incentives along the way. Treat yourself to your favorite coffee drink when you deliver an impressive presentation. Take a vacation to celebrate earning an advanced degree.
Hang in there. Perseverance pays off. Think long term and make plans for how to deal with obstacles so you can pick yourself back up when you slip.
If you want to enjoy more success, set concrete goals and write them down. Strengthening your goals will help keep you motivated and increase your chances of reaching your objectives.