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Making Life Changes that Last: How to Set Goals That Work

Change is hard. Especially if you have been stuck in a certain way of doing things for a long time. But fear not, change is always possible, no matter who you are or what life stage you are at. There’s just a few key things to be aware of when thinking about making a change in your life for the better.

I actually have to DO SOMETHING?

A little about my own struggle with goal setting and real change. I am a self-proclaimed daydreamer. I own it, and love this about myself. However, I can often feel discouraged after I’ve spent spent tons of time dreaming of big lofty goals but then can’t figure out how in the heck I’m going to go make these things happen in real life. I’m also a perfectionist (again, I own it), so my default is to ascertain that every step has to be the “right” step.  I often use the excuse that I’m “still planning”, but the truth is I know very well that if I keep this up a whole year will pass and not a thing will have changed. And there I am, with my big lofty goal inside my head and an empty feeling in my gut because I’ve done nothing to actually move things forward.
Can anyone relate? Does the fear of failure, or worse, other people judging you as a failure keep you in your comfort zone? You know the one. That little box that you know so well but can’t even stand up in? Welcome to 99% of the population, baby. And this is why so many people spend their entire lives feeling happy-ish. Like,

  • “I guess I can settle for now.”
  • “I’ll just wait. It’s not a good time. Better days are coming.”
  • “This is just the way life goes. You’re supposed to struggle and feel miserable. It gives you grit!”

Does it? How’s that working out for you?

If you are reading this and are ready to let go of whatever is holding you back and make a life change that lasts, you’re in luck. I’ve got some key things for you to think about, and to try out on your journey to a happier you. And it’s simpler than you think. Success really does boil down to a positive mental state, the right motivation, a solid plan and the commitment to follow through.

Let’s get to it!

What’s Your Stage of Change?

There are 5 widely recognized stages of behavioural change. They are:
  1.  Precontemplation – “There is no problem. Everything is fine”
  2.  Contemplation – “Okay, there might be a problem. But I’m not ready to do anything about it”
  3. Preparation – “I know there is a problem, and I am thinking about ways to change it”
  4. Action – “I’ve begun taking active steps to overcoming my problem”
  5. Maintenance “I have maintained my action steps and my new behaviour is now a habit”

In each stages there are challenges to overcome. And this is not to say that you can’t be in more than one stage at a time, or move back and forth from time to time. This is life here.

My first recommendation is to have a sit down with yourself and check in where you are at in terms of making a change. If your closest girlfriends are all telling you that you “need to get rid of that guy” but you just don’t see it, you aren’t going to do anything about, even if you have been feeling worse about yourself since you started dating him.

If you aren’t entirely sure what the problem is, then that is your first task. Take stock of your life, ask those that you trust, think about what would be different if you were feeling happier, and more fulfilled?

What’s Your Motivation?

If you know what needs to change, just do a double check and ask yourself this question, “is this change for me or for someone else?” IF the motivation behind making a change is for anyone other than yourself, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not likely going to last. The motivation has to be your own! You deserve the best, so do it for you!

What’s Your Plan?

Okay, so you know what needs to change and you’ve confirmed that you are doing it for your own personal growth and happiness. Awesome! So now what? This is where appropriate goal setting is crucial, and where dreamers like me struggle the most. But don’t give up, by taking some extra time to properly define your goals you can take your dreams from lofty to reality.

Have you ever heard of SMART goals? It’s a system that works really well to organize your goals, and to turn them from dreams into reality. This is because the process forces you to break down your goal into a functional plan of action. You begin a conversation with yourself and you have to answer questions about the nitty gritty details. Here’s the breakdown of SMART goals:

Hold Yourself Accountable

Alright, so you’ve asked yourself the above questions and written down all the fabulous details that outline your plan. Yes! Now before you do anything else I want you to post that bad boy somewhere where you will see it Ideally, multiple times a day. This will add to the positive mindset you want to have about your goals, because you are literally looking at your solution every time you open the fridge to grab your carrot sticks and hummus (see what I did there 😉 ). This can combat the negative thinking you might be experiencing about the actual problem itself.

Another tip that I find works for me is to let certain people in my life, who I trust with my vulnerabilities and short comings, know about the goals I am working towards. These are the people who are going to lovingly check in with me, because they really want to see me succeed and grow as a person. I feel like when I put things out into the Universe, I feel more motivation to actually follow through. And a really cool thing that has happened when I’ve let people in on my goals is that others want to join in! Positive energy attracts positive energy, and you just might be the catalyst that inspires your bff to really start looking into that night course she’s been thinking about. This is great, because it begins to create a network, a support group of people you know and trust who are all working to better themselves. The Girl Gone Rogue community is also an amazing place to receive support and motivation, so get out there and connect! We are stronger in numbers!

What’s Your Excuse? Throw it Away!

One note on excuses. And I am limiting myself here, because I am honestly the Queen of Excuses. I am that good. I could teach you about excuses until the cows come home.

I am here to tell you that any goal you set for yourself is achievable. I truly believe this. But more often than not the greatest barrier to achieving the things we want in life is that little voice in our head that tells us everything from, I mean you already had a whole row of cookies. What good is a workout now anyway? to What were you thinking when you made this goal!? You know you’ll never get there. It was a waste of time. Just Stop.Now.
Yup, that voice. And I know you know the one I’m talking about. The one that plays both judge and victim so well it could be the whole cast of a Real Housewives show. So much drama. So I’m here to tell you that firmly telling that voice to sit down and be quiet is one of the most difficult but crucial steps to achieving your goals. Moreover, I am all about positive mantras, affirmations and visuals that represent your goals and create intention. but in the beginning stages of making a change you may have to rely on what’s called behavioural activation. Even if your mindset isn’t all the way there, you have to just do it anyway. Sometimes we have to focus on changing our behaviour first, and the mindset will follow. Over time, that little voice will soften and your real self will start to show up. The one that is motivated and excited to get up in the morning and crush your goals. Like an internal life coach, by your side 24/7.

Don’t Forget to Check In

So you’ve been taking action towards reaching your goals, and maybe have even started setting new goals for yourself, because you’re awesome like that. But before you get hyper focused on identifying and reaching goal after goal in your life, I really want to emphasize one last, but extremely important step. Every so often it is important to stop, check in with yourself and appreciate your progress. Smashing your goals is amazing, but so is the fact that you took the time to write out a goal on paper for the first time ever. Every step is a step in the right direction. Appreciate yourself for wanting to make your life better, be kind to your mind and body when you’ve had an off day and be encouraging of getting right back at it tomorrow. Take the time to slow down, enjoy the progress you’ve made and the beautiful and wonderful being that you are. And also, appreciate anything or anyone around you that has been a support along the way. Gratitude for what we have achieved keeps us motivated.
What goals have you set for yourself, and what is your #1 tip for staying motivated and committed?

How to Set Goals that Work


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