Support is the Key to Achieving Your Goals
By Lorie Rosenberg
I know we’ve all had goals and dreams we’ve wanted to achieve, some relatively minor and others more complicated or difficult. Some were quite easy to accomplish, but others were elusive. We just couldn’t sustain the drive or motivation to see them through to completion.
When that happens, it’s a good idea to look at the goal you were trying to achieve and determine why you couldn’t sustain your motivation to succeed. You could ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I actually want to achieve that goal or was it something I just thought might be good for me…or even worse, what someone else wanted for me?
- Was the goal unrealistic for my particular situation? (Attempting to be a 5 ½ foot basketball player.)
- Did I actually see myself achieving the goal or did I truly believe I would never accomplish it?
- Did I have adequate support to help keep me on track when challenges caused some setbacks?
Creating SMART Goals
One of the keys to creating achievable goals is to develop goals that are “SMART,” which is an acronym created to help people understand how to create goals with a greater opportunity to actually accomplish them. Take a look below at how to create SMART goals.
Make sure your goal is specific, which means that you clearly understand what you’re trying to achieve. That’s because a specific goal has a greater likelihood of being accomplished than a general one. So make sure you have a specific outcome in mind for the goal you’re trying to achieve.
When determining your goal, make sure you write down the specific steps you need to take towards achieving it and concrete criteria for measuring your progress along the way.
Be sure that your goal isn’t overly ambitious. You’ll tend to lose interest and you won’t be able to achieve it within your specific time frame. (You can attain almost any goal with proper planning, motivation, and follow-through.)
Your goal must represent a realistic objective that you are willing and able to work towards. High motivation and focused effort are the keys to achieving your goals.
Your goal should have a specific time frame for completion. Without a deadline, there is no sense of urgency in accomplishing it. When you have a specific end date in mind, it gives you the necessary motivation to keep on track.
You Need Support to Help You Stay Motivated
Creating SMART goals is crucial to providing the right framework to work on your goals. But probably even more important than that is having support from your friends, colleagues, and family to ensure that you persevere, follow through, and achieve success.
One of the most difficult goals I accomplished in my life was achieving my bachelor’s degree. I had been awarded my Associates's Degree in Secretarial Science; but after working for a couple of years as a secretary, I had decided that I wanted to do more in my career. But I was on my own financially and didn’t have the resources to go back to college. So I decided to get a job at a university where I could get tuition benefits to go back to school at night. For five years I worked full time during the day and took two or three classes during the evenings.
There were times when I wondered whether it was worth it, but I had friends, co-workers, and family who encouraged me to continue. I knew it was important for me to complete my degree. I would be the first female in our family with a bachelor’s degree. This support helped keep my motivation high and kept me on track. And it was well worth it. That degree has helped forge my career and helped give me the confidence to pursue other challenges.
Overcoming Ingrained Habits or Unforeseen Challenges
We all tend to be creatures of habit. Even when we try to make changes, we tend to go back to old habits that have been ingrained in us for years. That’s why it’s so difficult for people to quit smoking, lose weight, or eliminate other types of negative habits.
Many people have difficulty trying to get rid of their bad habits. One reason is that they don’t substitute a better behavior for the habit they’re trying to eliminate. You can only truly change a habit when you substitute a better behavior for it. For example, instead of smoking, you could chew gum or take a walk on your smoking break. Instead of eating food when you’re stressed, try some exercise. This can help you replace the old habit with a healthier one.
Maintaining Your Motivation
For most people, it's incredibly difficult maintaining the drive and commitment to accomplish a particularly challenging goal. Even when they’re excited about a particular goal or objective, it’s difficult to sustain that high intensity and motivation over the long term. It seems that life gets in the way of their goals and people start to lose interest and go back to their old behaviors. They think that their will is going to be enough to ensure they'll accomplish their goals, but unfortunately in most cases, that’s not enough!
One of the reasons people lose interest is because the goal is outside of their comfort zone. They have to change ingrained habits and behaviors and that can be very difficult. It's much easier to go back to their normal mode of behavior because it feels more comfortable.
It’s also difficult to keep motivated if the goal takes a long period of time to complete. When the goal takes months or even years to complete, this can be very challenging. It’s difficult maintaining a high level of commitment over an extended period of time because your willpower alone is not enough to get you through. You need the support of the people around you to help you succeed.
If you're trying to lose weight, if you're working on getting a degree, or if you're trying to break into a new career, you need the people around you to encourage you to continue working on your goal, to help you overcome challenges, and to keep you motivated to complete your goals.
You're the Sum Total of the People Around You
There's a saying that you're the sum total of the people you hang around with. So take a look at your family, friends, and peers. Are they people who are committed to their own goals and objectives? Are they helping support yours as well and giving you the encouragement you need to accomplish them?
It’s important to have people around you that understand your needs and support you physically and emotionally. This help may include taking over some of your responsibilities so you have additional time to work on your goals. It may be providing you with some extra funds to help you go back to school or finance a new business venture. It may be offering some sound advice or providing words of encouragement to help you when you’re down.
Being part of a community of supporters can provide inspiration and motivation when you need it the most…when your own commitment is waning because of the challenges you have to deal with.
What’s important is realizing that you can’t do it alone. It takes the support of the people around you to help you succeed in your goals and your commitment to improving your life.