If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably set yourself a goal and then wondered after a week or so why working on it is so difficult. One of the reasons that goals lose their power to encourage is that the goal itself isn’t as clear as it could be. In fact, clarity is the key factor to finding success in reaching personal goals. When you know why a goal is important and are able to keep that picture in mind, it’s that much easier to stick to a plan and ultimately reach it.
Vague goals such as getting healthier, reading more, or spending less time on social media don’t have clarity. You can’t look at the goal itself and know what you need to do each day to reach it. You don’t have a determined point to aim for to know when you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. There’s no motivation there because there’s no vision.
In contrast, a clear goal such as “I want to run a 5k in June” gives direction and a definite way to know whether you’ve reached it or not. Either you managed to work up to running a 5k by June or you didn’t (but you probably got stronger and improved your endurance, so way to go, you!). These types of goals are more motivating as they apply pressure and a deadline.
As you create these clear goals, also keep in mind why they are important. Maybe it’s a life goal you want to achieve. Maybe it’s to have more energy to keep up with your kids. Maybe it’s a way to reconnect with yourself and something you used to love to do. Whatever it is, take time to write down all your reasons why reaching this goal is important to you. When you inevitably get discouraged, you can turn to this list to remind yourself why this goal is important to you.
Creating clarity in your goal setting
Anything can be a goal, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good goal. Your goal should be something you want to accomplish that you have control over. “Have a weed-free yard by June 1st” is something you can (mostly) control. “Get a promotion at work” is not. You should be able to envision what done looks like and thinking about it should excite you.
Put your goal into words and post it somewhere that you’ll see it. If it’s a goal that will take more than a few weeks, break it down into smaller doable chunks that you can finish one at a time. If you want to run that 5k, your first goals are to find a program to follow, schedule your workout times, and show up that first week. See? Clarity. You know exactly what you need to do to be successful.
I wanted to write a book
Back in the early 2010s, I had a bit of an existential crisis. I’d just turned thirty and for the four previous years had spent 100% of my time, energy, and attention caring for my kids and not much else. I was tired of feeling like I was stuck and unable to work on any of my personal goals because everyone else’s needs came first.
What was worse, is that it wasn’t true. I did have time to work on personal things, but didn’t feel like I could. Doing something for myself felt selfish, and yet there were huge parts of my day where I felt I was simply spinning my wheels.
I’d finally had it with myself and this self-imposed belief that I wasn’t allowed to do anything other than being a mom and housewife and decided to make changes. One of these things was finally working on that idea for a book that I’d been keeping safe in my head for years. Working on writing something, even when in the beginning it was pretty awful, felt far better than sitting on the couch watching TV.
At first, I didn’t really have a goal and the writing went nowhere. I found excuses to put the project aside when things got hard. It was only after I started setting smaller, more doable goals for myself that I started seeing progress.
Nearly thirteen years later from that first realization that I wanted to write a book, I’m proud to say that I’ve finished and published the entire trilogy. It took more work, tears, and heartache than I ever expected, but in the end, I’m thrilled to have completed this goal.
Psst – if you like coming-of-age epic fantasy, you can check out my books here!