The 7 Secrets to Achieving Your Goals

by | Jan 26, 2021 | Life Lessons

The human mind is a goal-pursuing engine – our intentions pull us through time, towards future destinations. ~ Kennon Sheldon (Which Way Should I Go?, 2019)

Whether consciously or unconsciously, you have goals that you’re pursuing. And you’ve likely heard the statistics that less than 10 percent of the people achieve the goals they set. It’s easy to become disenchanted with goal setting altogether and think, “Why bother!” Well, there’s plenty of reasons to bother. When you intentionally set goals, you are at least proclaiming that you have a hand in determining your future. You have agency. You are not merely drifting through life willy-nilly, hoping things turn out the way you want.

“Goals specify and direct behavior, challenging people to marshal energy, be persistent, apply skills, and regulate themselves…Pursuing goals allow people to introduce new organization into their lives, in the process “traveling through time” to future places they have decided to go, rather than just drifting with the tide.”

To increase your chances of goal attainment and satisfaction, it starts with setting the right goal for you. We often focus on the goal-achieving process and the outcome we desire, but we’ve not given enough attention to the goal itself. Selecting the right goal is essential to success, yet studies show that people often pick goals out of touch with who they are and goals that do not serve them well. Self-concordant goal selection increases your chance of success and leads to greater happiness and wellbeing.

What are self-concordant goals?

A goal is self-concordant when it expresses a person’s underlying interests, values, potentials, needs, and motives. When the goal reflects who you are at your core, what matters most to you, your gifts and talents, and your motivations for how you want to experience life and contribute to the world, it is concordant – in alignment with your most authentic self.

What gets in the way of people setting self-concordant goals? 

If setting self-concordant goals increases success, happiness, and wellbeing, why don’t more people set concordant goals? The simple answer is that setting self-concordant goals is not easy. It takes inner work, and we are often “strangers to ourselves.” It’s much easier to set goals based on what you think you should do, what others expect of you, what society impresses upon you, or what you feel you have to do. Whenever you set goals according to those criteria, you’re likely setting non-concordant goals.

Non-concordant goals are externally caused, meaning they are motivated by guilt or pressure from external forces. They may not have any alignment with your deeper interests, values, or even your skills. We’ve all known someone who went to law school because her father was a lawyer, not because she loved it, or the person who purchased a bigger home or more expensive car because the neighbors did. Social comparison, people-pleasing, living according to society’s definition of success, and not being in touch with your inner self and core values can lead to harmful outcomes. Pursuing non-concordant goals often results in wasted energy and failure. And even if a person achieves non-concordant goals, they can feel unfulfilled.

“Self-concordance is enhanced by self-insight and personal empowerment. ” ~ How to set self-concordant goals (Sheldon K. M., 2014)

  1. Learn to listen to your intuition rather than your conscious, egoic mind. Practice mindfulness meditation, which will enable you to attune to your inner voice.
  2. Imagine how you’ll feel when the goal is achieved. Our feelings are telling. “Self-concordant goals are the ones we pursue because we enjoy, believe in, and identify with them.”
  3. Seek out the opinions of others who know you better than you know yourself. A person’s self-views might be too limited, ego-driven, biased, and inaccurate.
  4. Clarify your core values and strengths and align your efforts with both.
  5. See yourself as the doer of the goal versus the haver of the goal. Self-concordant individuals see themselves as doers and so they do better in their goals.
  6. Work with a coach to help you identify more self-appropriate goals.
  7. Be true to yourself. Limit external pressures and have courage to follow through on what’s right for you.

What to do next

I highly encourage you to reexamine your goals and ensure they are self-concordant. This step in your goal setting process will make a world of difference. You don’t have time for wasted energy or resources, and I don’t want that for you. If you would like to schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation with me to help you with setting self-concordant goals, send me an email at tonya@yourahalife.com. I am holding 10 spots open. You can also follow me on Instagram @tonya.yourahalife. I’ll be posting and sharing more successful goal setting tips throughout the month. Lastly, if you are not a subscriber to my email list, don’t miss out. Sign up today and you’ll be added to the Your Aha! Life Global Community and receive these membership perks

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Note: all quotes by Kennon M. Sheldon, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. His research is in the areas of well-being, motivation, self-determination theory, personality, and positive psychology.

Works Cited

Sheldon, K. (2019, May 19). Which Way Should I Go? Retrieved from Society for Personality and Social Psychology: https://spsp.org/news-center/blog/self-concordant-goals

Sheldon, K. M. (2014). Becoming Oneself: The Central Role of Self-Concordant Goal Selection. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 1-17.

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