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How to Reach Your Goals

Experts describe strategies for setting goals -- and making sure you achieve them.

The Benefits of Intuition continued...

Getting your friends and family involved can also help you reach your goals, says Sandra Beckwith, leader of "Finding the Courage to Change" workshops. "You need someone who will reject your usual excuses -- 'I can't afford it,' 'I don't know how,' etc. -- and help you see that there's a way around every obstacle," says Beckwith. "He or she can brainstorm with you. … This allows you to see a situation from a different perspective, through fresh eyes."

Actually seeing your goal written down can also help you keep it in the forefront of your mind, adds Newman. "Tape reminders all over the house so your goal will always be in front of you -- literally."

Be Positive

Visualization and mindfulness (including approaches such as meditation and hypnosis) are also ways to help you achieve your goals. Mindfulness trainer Maya Talisman Frost explains that goal-setting is only one aspect of getting what you want. "It's the intention that gets us where we want to go," says Frost.

Goals tend to be arbitrary and number-oriented, says Frost, such as the number of pounds lost, amount of money earned, number of hours spent in the gym, and so on. Intentions, on the other hand, are "big-picture" statements about what fulfills you.

Yes, your goal is to lose 20 pounds in six months, but what's your intention? How about, "I feel strong, healthy, fit, confident, attractive, and sexy," says Frost. "The number on the scale isn't what matters most -- it's how you feel each day."

Positive thinking is often more effective than negative thinking when it comes to changing health behaviors. For example, people quit smoking more readily when the positive aspects of health are emphasized, rather than the negative side.

"Intentions allow us to picture ourselves -- and how we'll feel -- when we are successful," says Frost. "There's no room for failure in the picture. We focus on the positive and powerful feelings we'll have."

Picturing Success

The most effective way to change our beliefs is to create a mental story of success, Frost says. We need to picture ourselves as we want to be, and we need to talk about it. Her basic formula: See it. Say it. Hear it.

  • See yourself in the circumstances you desire. Picture it perfectly.
  • Craft a one-sentence story that you would like to be true, and say it in the present tense, as though you are describing your life right now.
  • Keep repeating yourself. Demand to hear that same story every night before you go to sleep.

"When it comes to achieving your goals, being positive is so important," agrees Rosenberg. "When you see in your mind's eye what you want to achieve, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

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Reviewed on August 27, 2008

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