“Keep your eye on the prize” is one of the most common platitudes being dished out today – whether it’s in the boardroom or the gym. At first glance, this quote may seem inspirational but a Harvard social psychologist, Amy Cuddy found that this attitude could cause you to lose the game! She found that the best road to success is not to shoot for the moon, but to set smaller attainable goals instead – this method of goal setting is simpler, more efficient, and has a better success rate.
The main reason people fail is because they don’t follow a good goal setting process.
The Biggest Reason Why People Fail
Professor Amy Cuddy is the author of Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges which explains how to face life’s biggest hurdles without dread and anxiety. She is an expert on human behavior who has conducted research into the triggers that provide a sense of accomplishment as well as those that cause us regret and disappointment. She says that the biggest mistake people make is in their outlook when setting goals for themselves. Most people only focus on the outcome they desire and they ignore the process.
The main reason people fail is because they don’t follow a good goal setting process. An overweight person might set a goal of losing 20 kilos or an ambitious intern decides to land a dream job – their goals are achievable but as Prof. Cuddy says, “They’re so big. They’re so distant. They require a million little steps in between, and each of those little steps is an opportunity to fail.”
Each of the milestones you achieve is a part of your bigger life goal.
How To Set Goals Smartly (And Achieve Them, Too!)
It Is Not Going To Happen Overnight
The smart approach to setting long term goals is to outline and accept the process that will get you to your goal. It may seem counter-productive to take your eyes off the prize but Prof. Cuddy is quick to point out that the effectiveness of this method lies in using long-term thinking for short-term planning. You might be impatient to lose 20 kilos but you need to realize that it will not happen overnight and so you need to work on a strategy that encompasses every milestone on the way to your goal.
Let’s Get Real, Shall We?
Be realistic and objective in every aspect of your goal setting process – determine exactly where you are currently with respect to your goal, define your goal, and finally work out all the steps that will let you achieve your goal. Prof. Cuddy says, “A lot of research is showing us that we do much better when we focus on incremental change, on little bits of improvement.”
One Step At A Time
As you achieve each of your short term goals, you feel a sense of accomplishment which spurs you on to the next milestone and this would mean that you are one step closer to achieving the life goals you set. Instead of sitting around wondering how to achieve goals, create a goals planner as this will help you organize your priorities and make setting goals that much simpler. Lifestyle changes can be among the toughest changes to make, so you can use a Guide To Make Those Sticky Lifestyle Changes You’ve Always Wanted To.
As Prof. Cuddy said in her Big Think video , “you may not even realize it, until one day you turn around say ‘Wow, this thing is much easier for me now than it was a year ago’.Each of the milestones you achieve is a part of the bigger life goal so focus all your efforts on just getting started and be prepared to be shocked with what you will accomplish!