Reach for Goals You REALLY Want

Working toward a goal is something people do in all walks of life, whether it’s aiming for a promotion at work, getting a PB in a race, performing pushups or pullups with ease, or learning a new language. There are many things we want to accomplish, but achievement rates are rarely 100 percent. Some goals are never reached, no matter how hard we try. Failing can lead to frustration, sadness, and self-deprecation, among other things.

Why do we reach some goals and not others?

Achieved goals most likely have a strong “why factor.” There’s a clear and deep understanding of the significance, symbolism, and meaning of the achievement. There’s also an equally clear understanding, and unacceptance, of the failure to achieve.

Think of a person who has never run more than a 5K, but was personally affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and decides to run Boston in memory of a loved one. She now has a deep emotional and concrete reason to keep up with the training program, regardless of the difficulty. It’s more than just a road race. It’s something deeply personal and emotionally charged. Not seeing this goal through is simply not an option. This “why factor” is, arguably, what can build a marathoner out of a recreational runner.

On the other hand, take a person who goes to the gym sporadically. A group of her friends plans to run a half marathon in six months, so she decides to sign up. At some point along the way, chances are she will fall off her training plan and not hit her goal. The reason behind the goal (because her friends are doing it) isn’t strong enough to justify the commitment needed to complete a half. This is often the case, even if there’s enthusiasm at the start.

The more specific and profound a reason for a goal, the greater the chance of achieving it.

Use the “why factor” to help you achieve your goals.

When you develop a new goal, take time to ask:

  1. Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  2. Why now?
  3. What will it mean for me if I achieve it?
  4. What will it mean for me if I don’t?
  5. What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve this goal?

This will help you clarify the “why factor” and develop a clear understanding of how committed you are to the goal. If you have honest and detailed answers to all five questions, your success rate will be high. If your answers are vague or missing, it’s a good sign this goal isn’t for you.

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