Personal Development

5 Simple But Powerful Tips On How To Set Achievable Goals

As-salamu alaykum everyone,

It may feel like the wrong time to talk about setting goals with the ongoing pandemic. But I’m a big believer in goal/vision setting. Even in challenging circumstances, goal setting is a transformational tool that directs our focus and attention. Think of it as a compass you can use to figure out where you are and where you want to walk towards.

Unfortunately, goal setting has become an anxiety inducing experience for a lot of people. Especially if you feel like you’re always falling short of achieving your goals.

One of the biggest lessons from 2020 for me is this principle:

Small puddles eventually turn into an ocean.

In other words, small actions when done consistently will have a transformational impact on your life. If all goes well and you achieve all of your goals, then Alhamdulilah that is amazing reason to celebrate! If life throws you a curve ball and you only manage to achieve a few things or different goals than you imagined,

You are still worthy of celebration!

I genuinely want Myrihla to be a space where we can encourage, support and motivate each other to create a life that we love. A life that feels joyful and makes us excited to wake up everyday. I believe expressing our desires through goal setting is an important part of creating that life.

In the video below, I share with you 5 simple but powerful tips to set achievable goals.

Let’s dive a little bit deeper into the tips.

1. Start with a Brain Dump

Give yourself time and space to write down all the things you wish you could achieve. You can write a 100 things if you like, as long as you get everything down. I would encourage you to do this on paper or on your computer (somewhere that is accessible).

Writing is a cathartic experience and you’ll be surprised with what you write about your deepest desires when you give yourself permission.

2. Narrow your list to 4 goals

One of the greatest obstacle to achieving our goals is a lack of focus. Step 1 is important because it frees up space in your brain. You can always go back to review and select more goals to work on. But right now, you need to do the hard task of prioritising where you want to direct your focus and energy this year.

We have limited energy and resources. If you fail to prioritise then you can spend the whole year expending energy in 20 different directions. This process of elimination works because what I’m asking you to do is to,

Begin with the end in mind.

In other words, I want you to fast forward to the end of this year and envision what will be important to you. You can also try this analogy to figure out what is important to you. Imagine you’re building a house and there’s only space for 4 pillars. Without the right pillars holding the house up, it either crashes completely or it’s not stable.

The point of the analogy is this – some things are nice to have and other things are absolutely essential.

I also recommend limiting to 4 goals because it allows you to plan in quarters which is important for the next step.

3. Systems and Habits > Goals

You’re probably thinking, “Hold up! Aren’t you the person that’s been hammering on about the importance of goals?”. And yes you’d be right. But figuring out your overall goals is only the first step.

Now you need to figure out the habits/ systems that’ll allow you to reach your goal. For example, if I want to be more consistent with my blogging, that statement only takes me so far.

If I break it down into systems/ habits it becomes:

  • I want to publish at least one blog post every week
  • I will curate ideas on my notebook / board throughout the week whenever I’m inspired
  • I’ll dedicate 1 hour on Monday and 1 hour on Wednesday towards writing.

Now ‘I want to become more consistent with blogging’ has gone from a vague statement to something specific but more importantly manageable.

When you are figuring out systems or habits to help you achieve your goals, always start small and build up.

It’s also nice for you to write down possible obstacles, why your goal is important to you and your reward/incentive when you achieve it.

4. Environment > Willpower

Honestly this is an Islamic principle that stands the test of time. When you are trying to grow or change, your environment trumps willpower. A lot of self-help psychology is directed towards banking on willpower. But willpower is a finite source. You could wake up in the morning and not have enough willpower to override years of ingrained habits. This then leads to a trip down the self blame and self criticism road.

Instead of relying on your willpower, start paying attention to your environment. What facilitates or hinders your goal? For instance, if eating healthy is one of your goals but your fridge is constantly stocked with junk food, in the words of my mother and African Mums out there, “Are you deceiving me or are you deceiving yourself?’

Through small actions, focus on nurturing an environment that sets you up to succeed. Don’t play yourself by ignoring the obvious.

5. Get an Accountability Buddy

This is the ultimate game changer! And it’s also my advice for people like me who struggle with willpower and self discipline. Can you guess the word I’m trying to avoid here? Don’t worry, I’m in the same boat as you.

Finding someone to hold you accountable will help you to stay on track and keep motivated. Let’s be honest, talking about your goal with someone else makes it more real. And I have to say, it’s such a beautiful thing to have someone support you with your goals and to be a part of someone else’s journey.

But you need a bit of experimenting before you find your ‘person’ and a method that works for you. For me, I text a friend every Saturday on my progress towards get a high paying Data Analyst job. Notice how I’m claiming what I want? There’s a whole different discussion on why we shy away from expressing what we truly want whether that’s in our goals or in our prayers. I could have just written ‘I want a Data Analyst Job’ but that wouldn’t capture by aspiration. In sha Allah, I’ll cover this topic in another post.

My habit breakdown (step three) is 4 hours of studying/ practice everyday (20 hours a week) because I’m learning technical skills. In the three weeks since I’ve started with my buddy, my numbers have fluctuated from 12 to 4 to 7 hours.

But remember my number one tip: “Small puddles eventually turn into an ocean.”

Small progress is still progress and I’m learning and adjusting accordingly.

Honestly, the best advice to cap it all off is to be joyful through the process. Celebrate your wins, make lots of dua and ask Allah swt for his help throughout. Put in effort and don’t be afraid to fail or make mistakes.

May Allah swt make this a blissful year for us all Ameen.

I pray that you benefited from this post and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section. How do you approach goal setting? What are your goals for 2021?

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