J. Boyd Long goalsSetting and Achieving Goals

Setting and achieving goals is one of those things that few people think about, fewer try, and even fewer actually do. It’s in the same category as dieting, exercise, and making good life decisions. But we all have intentions of doing things, right? So why don’t we get anything done?


People have never been busier than we are today. Technology has helped us fill every second of the day with something. What do people do if they’re waiting in line for more than ten seconds? Pull out the phone and check Facebook, send a text, look at the headlines. There are approximately a trillion television shows that are so addicting we can’t bear the thought of missing a minute of them. New movies come out all the time. The kids have a million things going on.

Lack of Direction

A lot of times we have vague ideas about things we’d like to do, but we haven’t ever taken the time to think it out. One of the negative side effects of being busy every minute of the day is that we don’t have time to think about things. So, if we don’t stop to figure out exactly what it is we want to accomplish, then we will never achieve anything outside the whirlwind of daily life.

How Can I Change?

First and foremost, you have to want things to be different more than you want to avoid the stress of change. It sounds simple, but it isn’t easy. Change is hard, change is scary, change requires time and effort and commitment, and we just don’t like that stuff.

People will endure amazing hardships just to avoid change. I call this ‘being committed to the Known Quantity.’ Some people will stay broke, because being broke is easier and safer than committing to learn and work at something they haven’t done before. Other examples of people choosing the Known Quantity over change: staying in bad relationships, staying in a bad job, not trying something that you think you might like (sky diving, painting, bowling, writing, new career field, new food item, new friend, etc), not stopping something you don’t like anymore (drinking, drugs, smoking, watching TV, toxic friendship), and the list goes on.

Okay, I want to change: How do I start setting and achieving goals?

Start small. Be realistic about what you can achieve. Right now you are filling up 24 hours a day with stuff, so in order to start doing something new, something else is going to have to be sacrificed. For me, that was the television. I wasn’t very committed to it anyway, so it wasn’t too painful, but I realize that other people feel differently about that.

If you are trying to instill a meditation or exercise regime, getting up twenty minutes earlier in the morning might be all you need to do to create a timeslot. Routine is very helpful for establishing new things, so try to do it at the same time every day until you get established.

Become a List Maker

Making a list of things you need to achieve each day and each week is a great way to keep yourself on track. I have a variety of goals, and they change on a regular basis, so I have to write things down. For example, I am trying to build a network of authors on social media, so I have a goal of sending at least 2 Facebook friend requests each week, and following 3 authors on Twitter each week. I also have a goal for how many words I want to write each day, or how many pages I want to get edited.

Each Sunday, I go down my list from the previous week and list what I actually accomplished beside my goals. I have two accountability partners, so I email them the results as well. At the end of each month, I write out my weekly goals for the upcoming month. This way I know exactly what I want to get done, and the timeframe that I have to accomplish it in.

Tracking and Rewards

One way to keep yourself engaged is tracking your results, and rewarding yourself. Once setting and achieving goals becomes a part of your daily life, it’s good to be able to look back over your goals history and see how much you have accomplished. It’s also a good way to see if you are setting your expectations appropriately. If you see that you are consistently failing to meet your goals, then you need to figure out why. Are you trying to do too much, or are you not trying hard enough to get it done? If you are hitting every goal every time, perhaps you can challenge yourself to do more.

Rewards are also fun. While ice cream is great, it might not be appropriate if your goal is to eat healthier, or to lose weight. Make sure your reward is good for you and your new lifestyle. I’m not very good at rewarding myself, so this is something that I need to work on instituting. I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, so maybe an extra 30 minutes of reading time each week would be a good reward for me.

Accountability Partners

When it comes to setting and achieving goals consistently, nothing has helped me keep my focus more than accountability partners. I wrote an entire blog on that topic, so I’ll just give you a link to that topic here: Accountability Partners Blog

So, there you have it: you can do way more than you think you can. All you need is an overwhelming desire to do something, some direction, a list or two, and a buddy. Once you start down this road, you will be amazed at where your life can go!

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Justin B. Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com.

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