After you have imagined what success will look like, consider what you don’t like about the way things are. You need to create a contrast between the way things are now and how life will be once you have achieved the goal. Write them down – both of them. Review and revise them regularly.

The stronger the contrast, the greater the motivation

Here’s a refinement.

German researchers have found that the stronger the contrast, the greater the motivation, and they talk about ‘diligent and continuous attention’ to the contrast. They found that the method works well if we believe they are goals we can achieve.

Linking long-term and short-term goals

It’s important to make sure that our daily goals relate to our long-term goals. Day-to-day ‘relatively-urgent-but-not-important’ tasks can easily take over and our long-term goals become relegated to the status of something we must get around to sometime.

American researchers have found that there are significant mental health benefits when our goals are our own, we relate our daily goals to the big picture, make the striving fun and make an effort to work on all our goals.

Stretch goals

Avoid the trap of goal-setting. We can aim too low so that all we are doing is reassuring ourselves that we have a plan. An effective goal is a stretch.

Our goals are much more motivating if we think carefully about what our success will look like. Create a vivid mental picture and keep returning to it. Think about how much difference achieving your goals will make to your life and in what ways.