In 1935, Alec Mace sat down to create the world’s first in-depth analysis of goal setting and goal achievement. Almost 80 years later, many of his findings still ring true, appearing in the habits and biographies of the world’s most inspirational figures – from Olympic athletes to business gurus.

Ongoing research tells us that the key to achieving personal goals all starts with the big picture. First you have to close your eyes and imagine your big goal – where you want to be. Then you can take a step back and break your goal down into smaller parts – each one a micro goal in and of itself. For example, if you wanted to lose 15 pounds in 3 months, you might set micro-goals to go for a run every Monday, pack a healthy lunch every night before work, or walk the dog with a friend every morning.

Alongside this valuable finding, there is an obvious pattern of behaviours that most successful goal-setters seem to follow. Read on to see which behaviours you’re already championing and which ones you can start doing now to pave the way to success!

1. Write it down

A study found that just by writing your goal down, you’re 40% more likely to achieve it (Bart Simpson not included)! Of course, it helps to write it somewhere visible, so you get frequent reminders of your aspirations. Whether it’s a whiteboard on your desk, an Instagram post, or your goal page on the Racefully app: Write. It. Down.

Bonus points: Make it as specific as possible. ‘Lose 10 pounds in two months’ will get you farther than just “Lose 10 pounds.”

2. Tell a friend

Sharing your goal with a close friend or confidant will give you that sense of accountability to get in gear and achieve your goals. If you tell a friend about your plans, there’s a good chance (if they’re a good friend, anyway) that they’re going to ask you about it next time they see you.

3. Or better yet, set a goal with a friend!

A 2002 study found that “promises or engagements to others can strongly improve commitment” to your goals. Ever heard of peer-to-peer motivation? How about social facilitation? What it all boils down to, is we’re more likely to go the distance if we do it with a friend. It comes as no surprise that some of the world’s most famous achievers paved their way to greatness with a close partner, spouse, or friend. The founders behind Google, Twitter, and Ben & Jerry’s are only a few!

4. Pick a challenge – and believe in yourself

Challenging goals have been found to have more motivational impact than those that seem easy or simple to achieve.  That said, you should pick a goal that you actually believe you can accomplish. In other words, if you’ve never run before, don’t set a goal to run a marathon in 6 weeks! Running your first 5k would be a more manageable goal with just as much motivational impact.

5. Give your goal a time frame and break it down into daily, weekly, or monthly chunks

Remember what we said about breaking the big picture down into small, manageable micro goals? Time bound goals provide that oh-so-helpful sense of linearity and give you a foreseeable future to work towards. If school or work has shown us anything, it’s that a deadline gives us that helpful sense of urgency to get the job done. Plus, you can add reward-based motivators along the way to push you on! Cue treat day!

6. Speaking of which: Focus on the process, not just the end result

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” That quote is famous because it’s true. And if it applies to anything, it’s goal setting. Every goal will have little setbacks along the way, but those only make us stronger. Couple those with the successes, and you will glean so much more from your goal than the end result in and of itself.

7. Celebrate that progress along the way- especially with friends

A study in California found that sharing news of your progress with friends acts as a powerful motivator on the path to success. No one said achieving goals was easy, and so you deserve to celebrate your determination, commitment and strength every step of the way. So, if you’re doing well, text a friend, blog about your progress or just take a moment for a hard-earned victory dance with your goal buddy.

There – you’re all set to go out and achieve your goals, and inspire us all!

How many of the above tips have you tried before? Let us know in the comments or share some advice of your own for the Racefully community!

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