How to turn your goals into reality: An A-Z of tips

A new year: time to look to the future and decide what you want to achieve in the next 12 months.

Resolutions can be a serious business: “Setting goals and working on them is often the difference between those who simply dream, and those who make things happen in life,” says life coach Rasheed Ogunlaru. But we hear you - making changes can be tricky. So, with Rasheed's help, we've put together a list of things to do or remember while you're en route to your destination, one for each letter of the alphabet.

A: Action

You’ve written down your resolutions and committed them to memory, so now it's time to take some action. What practical steps do you need to take in order to get the ball rolling? Big goals can often feel overwhelming, so it could help to split them into smaller, more manageable tasks, and just start somewhere. You know what they say: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

B: Believe

The only person who can get you to your goal is you, so self-belief is an absolute must. As cheesy as it sounds, regularly remind yourself that you can and will achieve your goals. “Believe in your self and your abilities – this is one of the most fundamental parts of achieving things. Self-belief helps focus your mind and get it working for you rather against you," advises Rasheed.

C: Don't... Compare

We’re all guilty of doing it, but comparing yourself to your peers can be one of the biggest barriers to making progress. Does that niggling voice at the back of your mind tell you that you’re not as capable as those around you? Remember your goals are personal and subjective - they have nothing to do with anybody else.

D: Document

A big part of the journey is taking note of the little victories along the way. Be sure to document these - they can be a great reminder of the progress you’ve already made and encourage you to keep going.

E: Energy

It may seem obvious but, in order to achieve the goals you set for yourself, it’s important that you remain physically and mentally energised. This involves making sure you’re fuelling your body with healthy foods, taking regular exercise and ensuring you get those crucial eight hours of sleep every night.

F: Failure = Feedback

Setbacks are a part of life. Learn to learn from them. If something doesn’t quite work out the way you’d planned, take some time to think about how you can approach things differently the next time. “There is no such thing as failure – except failure to learn from life’s lessons. So start seeing things you don’t achieve as feedback, not failure," says Rasheed. “Everytime something goes wrong, you make a mistake or something doesn’t go your way, learn from it. Adjust, fine-tune and you’ll improve.”

G: Grab opportunities

Be sure to make the most of any opportunities to move further towards your goal. This could be in the form of extra classes or courses, utilising online resources to provide you with further insight when it comes to your next steps, or even having a conversation with someone who has previously been in your shoes.

H: Don't be afraid to ask for... Help

When working towards a goal, there are likely to be times when you run into a problem or challenge that you simply can’t figure out on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: nobody is an expert on everything! Rasheed advises building a support network, like great athletes do: “Start to gather a team of positive-minded friends, family, teachers and experts who can help you succeed.”

I: Ignore what doesn't apply to you

You might have the same goal as another person, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your approach will be the same. If there are things that you don’t feel apply to you, don’t be afraid to ignore them.

J: Use your... Judgement

Is something not working for you? Change it. Does a task seem too big to achieve? Divide it up into smaller, more manageable tasks. Revising your approach towards a task in order to get it done is a fundamental part of meeting a goal.

K: Keep your eyes on the prize

When you’re in the middle of working towards something, it’s very easy to lose sight of the end goal. Keeping your eyes on the prize will help keep you motivated, especially during the less exciting parts of the process.

L: Learn about yourself

Working towards a big goal is a brilliant way to find out more about yourself and how you cope with stressful situations. Use this as an opportunity to really think about how you work and any ways you can improve when setting future goals.

M: Keep... Momentum

Once you begin to see progress, make sure that you keep momentum. If you stop, it can be really difficult to get going again. “There will be times when you need to change pace, pause, relax, take a break or even change direction – but it's important to keep moving forward,” says Rasheed. If you do feel like you’re getting tired or slowly losing the enthusiasm you started off with, why not try reducing your workload, or focusing on a different aspect of your goal?

N: Negativity: Remove it!

Some of the biggest barriers we have when it comes to our goals comes from negative thoughts that creep into our minds. Focus on your strengths and abilities, and practise being grateful. This will help boost your confidence and create a healthy, can-do mind set.

O: Get Outdoors

Being in the zone when you’re working towards something is a fantastic feeling. Your mind is focused, you’re learning loads and stuff’s actually getting done! However, this doesn’t mean you to have to be stuck at a desk for hours on end, and it can actually be really beneficial to get out in the fresh air and give your mind a break.

P: Pause

You are pushing yourself and this can be challenging. If you’re feeling discouraged or disheartened, don’t be afraid to pause, take a step back and reassess the situation.

Q: Embrace the... Quiet

We all have different ways of working, but a little quiet never hurt anybody! Being in a quieter setting can allow you to really focus on the task at hand.

R: Rest

Taking time to rest is essential, as it can help you to feel rejuvenated and reset your mind. So don't give yourself a hard time for taking that nap!

S: Surround yourself with good people

Surrounding yourself with supportive friends, family members or teachers is a great way to get the encouragement you need to keep going. “They say the life we seek has a lot to do with the company we keep. Dial down or let go of negative people, and turn up the positive influences,” says Rasheed.

T: Talk it out

If there’s something you’re finding difficult, try talking it through with other people. Getting perspectives other than your own helps you view situations from new angles, and may even be the answer to the problem you’ve been grappling with.

U: You are Unique

Rasheed reminds us it's important to “follow your heart and your own unique life and career path – don’t be side-tracked by gossip, distractions, other people’s goals or the lives of celebrities.”

V: Visualise your goal

Mind maps can be brilliant visual representations of what you’re looking to achieve. Use these as a way to not only see the bigger picture, but also all the individual little bits that feed into your overall goal.

W: Work hard

There’s no denying that hard work produces results. Be fully committed and put in maximum effort, but also be sure to take that much-needed time out for yourself.

X: X-ray vision

Get to know your goals inside-out, be analytical and see the bigger picture: “It’s this zoom lens of focus and seeing the big picture that often makes all the difference,” says Rasheed.

Y: Get into some Yoga (or just stretch!)

You might find that you’ve got a million things on your mind, and this can make your head feel a little cluttered! Doing some yoga or simple stretching and taking some deep breath is a great way to steer your mind away from all the noise.

Z: Zen: Embrace it

Working to achieve goals is demanding. There will be highs, lows, progressions and setbacks, but they all represent important aspects of the process. Keeping calm and embracing the zen is a great way to limit your stress levels, even when things get a little chaotic.

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