How to Reach Your Goals
Experts describe strategies for setting goals -- and making sure you achieve them.
There are two tricks to properly setting your goals, says University of
Alabama at Birmingham clinical psychologist Joshua Klapow, PhD. Klapow is
co-author of Stop Telling Me What-Tell Me How: The Simple Answer to Better
First, turn goals into specific behaviors, says Klapow. "To say that you
are going to exercise doesn't tell you which exercise to do, for how long and
how frequently. If you don't know what to do, you are less likely to do the
behavior. Be specific. Saying that you plan to walk five minutes a day -- and
increase the time by one minute each week until you are walking 30 minutes per
day -- is better than just saying that you plan to exercise."
Klapow's second tip is to make sure you are successful at reaching your
goals right from the start. "Resolutions need to be things you can actually
do," he says. "This is important because you are more likely to repeat
the behaviors in which you are successful. Set short- and long-term target
goals and make the short-term goals easy to reach."
At this time of year, when many of us are making New Year's resolutions,
Klapow reminds us that resolutions are basically a set of new behaviors.
Because the behaviors are new, and not learned habits, we have a tendency to
slip back into our old behavior patterns.
"The best way to keep track of what you are doing every day," says
Klapow, "is to get a calendar and write down every time you perform your
new habit. Don't leave it up to your mind because your mind can play tricks on
you. Three days without performing your new habit is your sign that you may be
The Benefits of Intuition
Using your intuition can also help you reach your goals, says Lynn A.
Robinson, MEd, author of Real Prosperity: Using the Power of Intuition to
Create Financial and Spiritual Abundance. Robinson offers three tips for
achieving a specific goal:
- Stay focused on the positive. Pay attention to what is working, not what
isn't. Perhaps a friend called to cheer you up, or your child got off to school
this morning without a major tantrum, or you had a really nice lunch with a
colleague. "Find those precious slivers of appreciation in each
- Take small steps. There is a two-part trick of working toward a goal: No.
1, just begin, and No. 2, start small. Take a first step toward what you feel
excited about and then take another one, and then another one. "Remain
centered in the present."
- Make your intuition your ally. Intuition is "quick and ready
insight" and it's one of the most helpful tools to use when faced with any
kind of decision making. It's also a skill that can be developed. The more you
practice it the better you get at it. How does your intuition speak to you? Do
you receive information in words, feelings, a flash of insight, a body
sensation? Do you just know? "Intuition is the secret weapon of many
successful people who describe it as knowing something directly without going
through a long analytical process," says Robinson.