Do you have unmet goals? If so, you aren’t alone. Most people live with unfulfilled aspirations.
Unfortunately, many widely used self-help techniques fail to deliver results. Case in point: You’ve probably heard of the “Yale Goal Study” where researchers interviewed Yale’s 1953 graduating class, asking whether or not the students had written down specific goals that they wanted to achieve. Then 20 years down the road the researchers looked up each student and discovered that the 3% of the class who had written down their goals had accumulated more personal wealth than the other 97% combined. Very compelling story, but complete fiction.
The “Yale Goal Study” never happened, though motivational speakers and self-help books have quoted it for years. Best-selling author and psychologist, Richard Wiseman, went on a mission to craft a no-nonsense response to the bogus self-help techniques. Using a diverse range of scientific data, he uncovered a proven approach to achieve any goal. The following 5 successful techniques (Do This) and 5 unsuccessful techniques (Not That) are from Wiseman’s book, 59 Seconds Change Your Life in Under a Minute.
1) Do This: Make a Step-by-Step Plan.
If you are serious about achieving your goal, then you need to create a step-by-step plan on how to do it. Successful goal-achievers break down their overall goal into sub-goals. Each sub-goal needs to be concrete, measurable and time-based.
• Not That: Motivate yourself by focusing on someone that you admire. Studies show that focusing on someone you admire is not a strong enough motivator to see you through your goal.
2) Do This: Tell Other People About Your Goal.
How badly do you want to achieve your goal? If you want it bad enough, you’ll tell your friends and family. This technique works on two levels. First, you’ve put yourself on the spot by letting the world in on your goal, so it’s all-eyes-on-you. Failure would be public. Second, your friends and family are there to offer support and encouragement. Don’t underestimate the psychological power of having someone in your corner.
• Not That: Think about the bad things. When you focus on the negative it becomes your reality.
3) Do This: Focus on the Good Things When Achieving Your Goal.
Remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goal. Make a checklist of how life will be better once you have achieved your aim. This gets your focus on a positive future, one that’s worth the effort.
• Not That: Try to suppress unhelpful thoughts. Rather than trying to erase that image of chocolate cake from your mind, learn to deal with the reality of temptation head-on.
4) Do This: Reward Your Progress.
Studies show that attaching rewards to each of your sub-goals encourages success. Your rewards should never conflict with your major goal. When aiming to lose weight, never use food as a reward.
• Not That: Rely on willpower. Willpower alone rarely gets anyone to their goal.
5) Do This: Record Your Progress.
Make your plans, progress, benefits and rewards concrete by expressing them in writing. Use a hand-written journal, your computer or a bulletin board to chart your progress. This process is priceless for maintaining motivation.
• Not That: Just fantasize about life after achieving your goal. Daydreaming is fun, but simply fantasizing about your new life will not make it a reality.
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