You're already aware that setting goals is a powerful way to make your dreams a reality.
When you set goals, you increase your chances of success because you know where you’re going and what it takes to get there.
But when you set out to achieve those goals you’re also bombarded with:
You think to yourself, “How can I possibly reach my life goal without getting stressed out?!”
Good news, my friend - you can. And here's how:
Read on for my 10 best tips!
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1. Set the Right Kind of Goal
What kind of goal are you setting to begin with?
You might think that not setting your sights too high is the answer to reaching your goals without getting stressed out.
But actually, the “right kind of goal” is BIG.
In fact, when studying what made exceptional, long-lasting companies successful, two Stanford professors (Jim Collins & Jerry Porras) discovered that they all had something in common - a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal (BHAG).
BHAGs are bold and daunting, yet clear and compelling … something like, “To become #1 or #2 in every market we serve and revolutionize this company to have the speed and agility of a small enterprise.” – General Electric, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.
Your BHAG (which will require continued effort over a long period of time) can then be chunked down into smaller and smaller goals.
Continue chunking it down: yearly --> monthly --> weekly --> daily. Eventually, you will be doing small, manageable tasks every day that get you closer to reaching your big goal – without getting all stressed out.
*Bonus Tip*- Make sure you are setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S= Specific, M= Measurable, A= Achievable, R= Relevant, T= Time-bound.
Your goal should also mean something to you personally and align with your definition of success.
Sometimes you may think you want something because it is what society has told you that you should want.
But it's not something that will actually make your life happier and healthier.
So, stay true to your own unique purpose. You are more likely to achieve a goal with intrinsic value than one based on external validation.
And you’ll be less stressed while trying to achieve it!
2. Learn the Art of Surrender
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you tried to control every aspect of it?
Obsessing over the details. Relentlessly working on making everything perfect. Trying to account for all the possibilities.
I bet it didn't take long for you to get burnt out! That's what happens when you are worried about every little thing! Especially things you can’t control.
Whenever you set out to reach a goal in life, remember: all you can do is your best.
"Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life." - Eckhart Tolle
There will always be variables and unforeseeable factors that influence any outcome. It’s useless to stress about these things – they are not things you can control, so let them be.
Release what’s out of your control and allow things to unfold naturally.
In other words, pursue your goals in life with focus and determination but don’t become attached to any specific outcome.
Because the truth is, you don’t know what outcome is best for you.
Sometimes, what seems like a devastating blow actually turns out to be a blessing in disguise.
And sometimes, you have to let go of something good to make room for something great.
Things have a weird way of working out for the best if you just trust that everything will happen as it should.
3. Be Mindful
Anxiety tends to be a past or future-based emotion.
You’re either ruminating over how you could have done something differently in the past or catastrophizing about how bad things could possibly go in the future.
Allowing that cycle to continue only makes your anxiety worse.
Being mindful helps you to reach your goals without getting stressed out by staying focused on the present, not the past or the future.
Mindfulness can be practiced while performing any activity – breathing, drinking tea, meditating, coloring, yoga, eating, walking outside, etc.
All you have to do is be aware of what’s happening and experience it to the fullest.
Notice any sounds, tastes, smells, textures and sensations that come with the activity.
If your mind begins to wander, simply bring your attention back to the task at hand.
With consistent practice, you will:
- “Think and respond” instead of “feel and react”
- Have better focus and work more efficiently
- Communicate more effectively
- Be more sensitive to your needs and be more compassionate towards yourself and others
- Have more appreciation for the simple things in life
- Become more aware of your anxious thoughts (and therefore be able to step back from them – remember, your thoughts are not facts)
- Build up strength and resilience so that you don't get overwhelmed/burnt out in the future
- Enjoy better mental health
Don’t just feel and react. Think and respond.
4. Eliminate Clutter
When I was in law school, my friend and I used to procrastinate by tidying up before studying.
We could delay the inevitable for hours by just finding more and more things to clean and organize.
Turns out, our “procrastination cleaning” wasn’t a total waste of time!
Research shows that mess causes stress.
I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to get stuff done when things are messy. There are just too many external stimuli and I can’t seem to relax.
If you are trying to accomplish your goals for the day, but your work space is cluttered, you may find that:
Eliminate the clutter from your life so you can reach your goals without getting stressed out.
And when I say eliminate the clutter, I’m not just talking about physical items, I'm also talking about mental clutter.
Your mind can also become cluttered with all kinds of garbage.
Here are some free PDF brain dump worksheets to help you out!
Self-doubt, limiting beliefs, internal chatter and negative input from others must all be decluttered along with your environment.
Having confidence in yourself is key to reaching your goals. One way of doing this is through meditation.
If you can’t seem to sit still and completely quiet your mind, try walking outside. Walking meditation is an enjoyable and effective way of reducing stress and anxiety – I do it almost every day.
5. Celebrate Small Wins
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the things that you are doing and all the things that need to get done.
Take a moment to recognize and appreciate all that you’ve already done.
While pursuing your Big goal, you will achieve many smaller goals along the way.
The power of small wins should not be underestimated.
It’s going to take a long time to reach your goal (assuming you’ve set a BHAG) and one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated is to celebrate your minor milestones.
By celebrating the little things that you accomplish, you are providing yourself with positive reinforcement. When things get tough, this could be just the boost you need to keep going.
According to a Harvard Business School study, keeping track of seemingly minor accomplishments breeds major success. That’s because progress boosts confidence, which facilitates success.
Progress boosts confidence, which facilitates success.
When we accomplish even the smallest of goals, our brains release dopamine and other feel-good chemicals that then motivate us to perform the same behavior again in order to get the reward.
This addiction to progress will keep you motivated (and less stressed) while you are working to achieve your Big goal.
6. Master Your Mindset
If you want to reach your goals without getting stressed out, you will need to master your mindset.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon.... If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.”
- Gautama Buddha
Pay attention to the dialogue you have with yourself. Are you harboring any limiting beliefs like, “I’ll never be rich” or “I’m not good enough”?
These fear-based beliefs not only cause lots of undue stress, but they can also prevent you from reaching your goals. Identify your unique strengths and play to them instead of focusing on the negative.
“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.” -Suzy Kassem
Also, remember that working on reaching your goals is not just a means to an end. There is inherent value in both the process itself and the failures along the way.
Each “failure” is a lesson that trains you for success, not a reflection of your ability.
Renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck explains that successful people have a “growth mindset” (abilities are mutable) and tend to focus on personal improvement, whereas unsuccessful people have a “fixed mindset” (abilities are fixed) and tend to avoid challenges.
7. Be Flexible
Your goal should be specific and well-defined. Your resolve should be steadfast and unyielding.
But you should remain flexible and be willing to adapt.
Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.
Remaining flexible allows you to see the big picture and make decisions based on what’s best for you at that time.
Things are constantly changing, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Be willing to evaluate your systems and processes to see if there’s a better way of doing things.
Sticking to the old way just because it set a precedent can cause you a huge amount of unnecessary stress when trying to reach your goals.
Sometimes, opportunities come along that you had not previously considered; if you are not open to such serendipitous occurrences, you may miss out on something special.
And sometimes, what you used to be able to handle is not feasible anymore.
If your stress levels are too high, try chunking your daily tasks down even further so you can reach your goals without getting stressed out.
Perfectionists tend to have high standards of achievement and suffer from high levels of anxiety when those exacting standards are not met. They may even avoid doing something altogether if they feel they will not excel at it.
If this sounds like you, remember that it is better to aim for progress than perfection.
Realizing that failure is, to some degree, inevitable can lift a huge burden off your shoulders.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
– John Steinbeck
8. Work Smarter, Not Harder
As a high-achiever, you are used to working hard for the things you get and that’s a great quality.
You really need to have some grit and determination to achieve your BIG goals in life!
But sometimes we don’t realize that we’re working hard but not smart.
This can really stress you out when you’re trying to reach your goal but aren’t seeing much progress.
You will be much more productive if you focus on doing one thing at a time rather than trying to multitask (think: assembly lines).
Task-batching is something I find incredibly helpful for getting lots done with minimal stress.
To batch your tasks, set aside periods of time to complete similar types of tasks. For example, I schedule all my Pinterest pins for the week on Monday instead of scheduling some each day.
Also, be willing to delegate when necessary. If your goal is to start your own business, you will have to wear many hats and figure out how to do lots of things for yourself.
But if you want to reach your goal without getting stressed out, there may come a point when you need to delegate some tasks.
Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you should.
9. Take Care of Yourself
You might feel like taking care of yourself is selfish. Especially when you know you could be hustling!
Or you might feel like you can take care of yourself after. After you take care of everyone or everything else.
But the truth is that self-care is not selfish at all. And it definitely should not be put off.
You’ve got to take care of yourself first before you can give to others.
Engaging in regular self-care will help you to reach your goal without getting stressed out. You don’t have to sacrifice your health for success; the two can co-exist.
Self-care could mean something as simple as taking time out to meditate, making sure you’re eating healthy foods that reduce anxiety or keeping a journal.
It could also mean saying no to some things, so you don’t get overwhelmed. Or finding ways to simplify your life.
The point is to look out for yourself. You’re a human being (not a robot!) and you deserve to be healthy and happy.
“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
– Jack Kornfield
10. Remember Your Why
Achieving the big goals that we set in life is not easy.
It takes a lot of dedication and hard work.
Sometimes it seems like the work never ends, especially when you’re not getting the results you’d hoped for.
During these stressful times, take a step back and remember your why.
Remembering your purpose will help to reduce stress when you’re trying to reach your goals.
Why do you want to achieve this particular goal?
There is a big difference between doing something you want to do and doing something you have to do.
Your why will put things in perspective and remind you that this is something you want to do, that there is a compelling reason for all the work you’re putting in.
Reaching a big goal is a long game. Your motivation and stress levels may fluctuate.
Whenever you feel unmotivated, drained, stuck, overwhelmed, frustrated, etc., remember your why. It will get you through the difficult times and help you to reach your goals without getting stressed out.
“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.” -Simon Sinek
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It requires consistent effort, but it is possible to reach your big goals in life without getting stressed out.
Ambition and anxiety go hand in hand. Because you’re ambitious, you set big goals in life and you're determined to reach them.
It requires a high level of faith and courage to chase your dreams. You don’t know that you will be successful in what you set out to accomplish.
That uncertainty – and all the work you continue to do despite it – can cause anxiety because the possibility of failure is scary.
But, whenever you attempt to reach a goal, there will always be failures. The key to success is to not let those failures (or the fear of them) stop you from trying.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” - J.K. Rowling
1. Set the right kind of goals
2. Learn the art of surrender
3. Be mindful
4. Eliminate clutter
5. Celebrate small wins
6. Master your mindset
7. Be flexible
8. Work smarter, not harder
9. Take care of yourself
10. Remember your why
Over to you - did I leave anything out? What do you find reduces stress when trying to reach your goals? Tell me in the comments!
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