“This time things will be different”

A common problem when it comes to formulating goals is making a realistic assessment of the required effort. We tend to base our estimations of how much time and effort is needed on previous experiences with similar tasks. Unfortunately this can be a quite unreliable source of information. We often forget about all the difficulties we encountered last time we worked towards a goal, and thus tend to underestimate the time that’s actually needed to complete the task at hand.

Your present self, the person setting long-term goals, is in other words not the same self that will later have to work to achieve them. All too ambitious goals can often feel inspiring when you’re formulating them, but if the practical conditions for achieving those goals are lacking, chances are you will fail and blame yourself for not succeeding.  

Think about how realistic your goal is by examining your present possibility of achieving it. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to take a first step towards the goal today.

John Norcross is a professor of psychology and expert in behavioral change and goal setting. In this short video clip he describes a few tips for setting the right goals, including how the way we formulate our goals can determine our possibilities of achieving them.