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Goal setting is an integral and essential part of our lives. The ability to set better goals requires working through a process of steps that help build better focus, clarity, and motivation.
In today’s post, I want you to consider the importance of setting goals and the benefits you can gain from them.
The Power of Goal Setting
Goals are a way to measure your level of success – they keep you in check, giving you a sense of purpose and direction. They help keep you focused while providing you with a realistic benchmark to determine if you’re succeeding. By setting goals, you create a plan for what you want in your life.
Like so many other people around the world today, there is no doubt that you have many things you would like to achieve, things that are very important to you as an individual or to your organization. These things vary from one person to the other, and so does their relative degree of importance.
They could be aspects of your life relating to your health, wellbeing, career/business, finances, family, relationship, spiritual, and so on. Goal setting makes it possible for you to acquire and achieve all of these things.
Unfortunately, most people never truly appreciate the value of cultivating the habit of goal setting. They undermine its significance without giving forethought to the tremendous psychological impact that the setting of goals can have on their lives.
Sometimes, people hate to set goals because they usually feel bad if they fail to achieve them. So, to avoid disappointment, they practically shove the idea out the window. By taking the time to look at the extraordinary benefits that goal-setting provides, you will quickly realize how this simple habit can transform your entire life.
Benefits of Setting Goals
When you set clear, passionate, and definitive goals, you will gain a renewed energy and a sense of purpose and direction that encourages you to take decisive action. You will discover that this process increases your desire, passion, and motivation.
Also, by following through with every goal you set for yourself, you will develop more certainty and clarity as you move toward your desired objective.
Goal setting also helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. It will vividly indicate any shortcomings in critical areas and encourages you to work on them. Perhaps there are specific skills you need to master or knowledge or resources you need to acquire.
Another benefit to note is that smart goal-setting is a process of personal growth and development that will enhance your self-image.
It is a real confidence booster that allows you to see your objectives with an assured expectation of accomplishment. When you have no concrete goals, your life becomes empty, even though sometimes you may not realize it.
Goals give you a clear focus on a specific aspect or area of your life. When you resolve to start setting goals in your life, you will find that your decision-making almost immediately improves. The goals you set will propel you to make choices, decisions, actions, behaviors, and habits that align with that particular objective to bring it to reality.
The process of goal setting empowers you with the ability to come to honest self-realization about your abilities and shortcomings. That eye-opening and defining moment will inspire you to acquire the necessary knowledge and master the important skills that you will need to move your life forward optimally.
Ten Tips to Set Better Goals
Ten tips to provide the necessary foundation to inspire and move you to pursue your goals with a greater sense of purpose and clarity.
1. Write Your Goals Down
Writing down your goals is one of the most valuable tips to help you set better goals, rather than just thinking about them. Writing your goals down makes them tangible and also makes you accountable. The possibility of you achieving your goals increases further when you put them down in writing because writing makes them feel more realistic.
Also, by making a step-by-step list of your goals and keeping it plainly visible, you can review it every day. You will always see where you want to go. You will also be able to visualize the roadmap to achieving your goals more clearly. Writing down your goals also gives you an idea of what you need to do as well as the things you need to avoid doing to make them a reality. It is an efficient way of keeping them at the forefront of your mind all the time.
You can list out your daily goal experiences or keep a journal of them. By doing this, you will learn to discipline yourself to follow your goals. You’ll be able to track your progress at the end of the day and see whether you’re on the right path.
You will also gain new insights and understanding on how to go about achieving your goal faster. It may even require that you tweak your list to keep you focused on your highest priorities. Doing so will help you identify what goals might be relevant to your life’s purpose so you can cross out those that are not relevant.
It is important that you use an active voice when writing your goals down to make it feel more personalized. For example, you can write, “I will increase my daily exercise time to 30 minutes” instead of “I would like…” Using the former when writing down your goals makes it more active, whereas using the later only gives you an excuse to get sidetracked.
2. Your Goals Must Mean Something to YOU
This tip essentially means that your goals must be of personal benefit to you in the long run. Don’t even bother to set goals for things you do not want. You must make sure that each goal you set, no matter how little, is very important to you and will be of utmost benefit to your overall purpose in life.
Identify your life’s passions and purpose. That will help you to determine your unique strength, skills, talents, passions, and abilities. Once you have been able to determine all of these various personal advantages, you will be better able to clarify your life’s purpose and primary objectives.
Next, you need to be clear about what it will take physically, emotionally, intellectually, and financially for you to achieve those set goals. You will need to project into the future to determine whether your set goals align with your life’s purpose. It will also make it clear whether the future you’ve planned for yourself has negative consequences or positive rewards.
By performing a thorough assessment of your future with the goals you have put in place today, you will gain further leverage and find more reasons to pursue them. You will also take yourself through a questioning process and discover the type of person you will need to become to realize your goals. And finally, you will be better equipped to face the possible challenges that may arise while in pursuit of your goals.
If your goals are not something you seriously want to achieve, or perhaps what you’ve written down are not especially relevant to you, it is doubtful that you will succeed. You’re unlikely to put in the effort required if deep down your goals don’t resonate with you.
Reaching a goal is going to take work, so it needs to be something that you’re passionate about, and something you need to accomplish. Ask yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you to the goal? With 10 being total commitment and 1 being zero commitment, what’s your score? If you fall anywhere below 8, then you should reconsider your goal and rewrite it.
Many people fall into the trap of trying to achieve goals set for them by other people. If you fall into this category, then you must realize you will never attain your maximum potential. You’ll never be motivated enough unless you become responsible for your goals and align them for your benefit in the long run.
3. Your Goals Should Excite You
You should be passionate about the goals you set yourself. They should be things that give you a burning desire to fulfill. Thinking about them and pursuing them should fill you with vigor and passion. If your goals don’t excite you, then you will find an excuse not to follow through. If you aren’t excited by your goals, spend some time redefining them. What would make you excited? Perhaps they should be smaller, or perhaps more significant? Maybe something entirely different and reconfiguring them is okay. It’s all about you and what you want your life to be. Be honest with yourself; it’s ok.
Without having a burning desire to accomplish your goals, you will struggle to find the motivation you need to overcome all the obstacles, problems, and adversities that you’ll inevitably encounter along your journey.
So, begin with the goals that are highest on your priority list. Try not to get overwhelmed by the volume of tasks that you need to complete. For the best results, start simply. Break down them according to their highest sense of urgency – leave only the top one or two overall goals that you need to accomplish.
Recognize that pursuing motivation isn’t valid. Don’t waste your time chasing a goal if you know that you are not ready to follow through to the end. Instead, come up with a “smaller” goal that feels more doable. Once you reach that one, you can upgrade to the larger one.
4. Make Your Goals Specific & Measurable
When you have a goal in mind that you want to accomplish, make sure that it is as specific as possible. That’s because if your goals aren’t specific enough, they won’t give you enough direction to follow through. A research paper from the American Psychological Association proved that 90 percent of the time setting specific goals led to higher performance in the companies studied.
You can equate a goal to a lamp that lights up your roadway – the brighter the light, the more clearly you see the road ahead. According to Jason Forrest, CEO of Forrest Performance Group, “If you don’t have clearly defined goals, you procrastinate. Think about the results you want to achieve – what activities do you need to do for the results?”
Aside from being specific, your goals should be measurable as well. What this means is that you should give yourself a realistic timeline for accomplishing each of them. Make sure that you add specific dates, amounts, and so on. The parameters which you use to measure your goal timeline make your progress quantifiable.
For example, when measuring your goal, instead of saying “reduce expenses” you can say something like “reduce expenses by 10 percent in the next 12 months.” Setting a measurable timeline in this manner gives you a way to create milestone points along the way to ensure you stay on track. It also gives you a chance to celebrate a win at each milestone, which psychologists have found to be important to success.
By regularly measuring your progress as you advance towards the completion of your goal, you become even more motivated to accomplish it. However, it is important that you avoid the trap of measuring your progress just for the sake of tracking how fast you can achieve your goals. It shouldn’t be a competition. Otherwise, you may likely rush and make mistakes.
The process of measuring your goals should incorporate an analysis of the progress that you’re making. You may need to begin collecting data which includes trends, lapses, victories, mistakes, oversights, and every other relevant information that would provide the necessary feedback you need to keep you motivated and focused on completing your goal.
5. Attach a Timeframe to Your Goals
Attaching a timeframe to your goals is a very important tip that you must not neglect when setting goals for yourself. Vague timelines for a goal makes it easy to succumb to procrastination and seek instant gratification instead.
By setting a realistic timeframe for achieving a goal, you consciously give yourself a deadline that will constantly remind you subconsciously to keep yourself on your toes. A deadline gives you a sense of urgency that something is at stake, a state of mind that is lacking when goals are open-ended.
Moreover, by attaching a timeframe to your goals, you will get to celebrate your milestone victories, and anticipate a big celebration for when you accomplish your goal. Never underestimate the motivation of the reward system.
It can be easy to lose focus when things start to get bumpy. Something as small as having a cold one week can be enough to get you out of your groove. Life happens, and things won’t always go according to plan. But that’s okay. Expecting it is half the battle. When such times occur, having a creative goal reminder you can refer to can prove very useful.
For instance, you can create a collage poster of your goals using magazine pictures and words that aptly represent the various aspects of your goals. You can also create a mind map of your goals. Putting your goals down on mobile flashcards is another great way of giving yourself a sense of urgency.
Another useful method for keeping yourself on your toes is by getting a countdown timer. A countdown timer is a great tool that you can use to set the deadline for accomplishing your goals. Just set the timer to count down how many days left before you need to achieve your goal. As the deadline day draws nearer, the reality and expectation of reaching your goal will dawn on you. That will help keep you motivated.
Finally, making simple yet convincing affirmations can prove very powerful in keeping you centered and focused on your daily objectives. It may be difficult for some to be able to follow through with affirmations they make for themselves but with some self-discipline, cultivating this valuable habit can become second nature to you. And it’s worth the effort.
6. Create Accountability For your Goals
Creating accountability for your goals is another important tip that helps many people not only set better goals but also make it easier to achieve them. If you are working on goals in secret and there are some tasks you aren’t looking forward to it’s easy to let them slide. Having even one person who you are accountable to can help you stay steadfast and motivated.
It is important that you hire an accountability partner that regularly checks up on you to see how you are progressing. It could be your friend or a family member. Explain to them what your goal is and why accomplishing it is so important to you. Remember to include the timeframe so that they can help you with it.
An accountability partner will regularly ask you how you are getting on with your goal and offer help or advice if you need encouragement. Plan to meet and speak with them at least one day each week. Provide them with an update on your activities and the progress towards your goal. Once that is done, you can let them know about the next tasks or projects coming up.
Accountability partners are invaluable in achieving your goals. They hold you accountable but should keep you motivated as well. You aren’t looking for a drill sergeant. You are looking for a partner to help keep you on track in a loving, secure way. So, make sure that your accountability partner is the encouraging type and not someone that would downplay your goals or rub it in your face if you miss a target. If the person you chose to be your accountability partner isn’t encouraging, don’t hesitate to find someone who is.
Another positive means of support is to find a mentor. Look for someone who is already successful in the particular core life areas you are aiming for and aligns with your purpose. Encourage them to share their stories and experiences, then take your time to learn from their mistakes. Your mentor will expertly help you in creating accountability for your goals.
Also, try to study random people, topics, and skills related to your goals. One way that you can continually refresh your motivation and become more accountable for your goals is to undertake goal-related learning tasks.
That just means you learn new skills and study exciting topics that are related to your goals. Read biographies of successful people who aimed for the same things that you want and achieved them. You might take an online course through Great Courses or Udemy. Or join a Meetups group that focuses on the skills you are practicing and learning. Doing this will make you feel motivated to pursue your goals and to continue on the course.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Big
When setting goals, always try to keep the bigger picture at the back of your mind. Yes, you can set small goals every day but where are they leading you? What exactly is your end game? That is where thinking big comes into play.
The fact is, when you want something, as in really want it, you can feel yourself longing for it in every bone of your body. That drive and that hunger will push you to achieve it. You won’t need anyone to tell you to pursue it because the willingness to do so will come naturally to you.
You will be ready to do whatever it takes to get it, and the best part is, it doesn’t feel like work. No doubt, there will be some difficult days and some disappointing moments. But you know that they are well worth it because, in the end, every step you take will get you closer to your goal.
If you don’t feel this way about a particular goal, then maybe your goal isn’t big enough. They must be challenging. If your goals are not appropriately challenging to you, then you will grow bored fast. Your goal should be just enough out of your comfort zone to excite you and guide you to try new things.
A goal that is outside your comfort zone is still very much attainable. But it will require consistent effort and perseverance to bring it to fruition. Also, and most importantly, for your goal to succeed, you need to believe in yourself that you can indeed achieve it.
Of course, there will be times when you may feel it is impossible for you to achieve the goal given your current circumstances and resources. Other people might even try to talk you out of it and discourage you. What matters is that the goal you set is bigger than you and that it is capable of taking you out of your current situation.
Once you can achieve that crazy big goal, the one everyone, maybe even including yourself, thought would be utterly impossible for you to complete, you will be inspired to achieve even more. Yes, you might feel the urge to relax and rest on your laurels, but you also have the option to go out and set yourself some new crazy big goals.
8. Create an Action Plan to Attack Your Goals
The goal-setting process requires that you create an action plan to attack your goals. You must have a step-by-step process in place that indicates how you intend to achieve your goal. That can be a simple list of all the resources you need to acquire, skills you need to master, support you need to procure, etc.
It is easy to focus solely on the outcome of your intended goal and forget the steps you need to take to achieve that desired outcome. You’ll need to avoid the temptation of skipping through some of the items on your list because you want to dodge the responsibility that comes with it.
Having a goal comes with a lot of tasks. Don’t go from item A through to Z without considering items B, C, D, and everything in between, because that will make it so much more difficult to reach your goal. Start by writing down all of the individual steps necessary for achieving your goal, then go back and put them in a logical order. Then, follow these steps religiously as it is your roadmap that you will use to execute your plan as flawlessly as possible.
Create small, consistent, flexible daily actions and tasks that will continually drive you towards your goal. But also make sure to maintain a flexible approach to unexpected circumstances or obstacles that cross your path. That is a very simple, yet effective way to beat off procrastination.
Just as the CEO of “The Aha! Advantage” and author of “Zero Resistance“, Harry Mills aptly said: “Successful entrepreneurs map out their goals to achieve them. Entrepreneurs that develop a map to reach an achievement or overcome indecision are compelled to take action.”
When you have a plan in place, it makes you official, and working the plan makes you successful. Devote enough time to the planning of your goal. Don’t forget to revisit the plan on a regular basis to see if it needs to be modified. It’s common for a big goal to change and morph as we go along.
If you have taken the time to draw up a good plan, why not use it? You may feel tempted on some occasions to keep changing your mind or to develop new plans when things begin to go awry with your initial plan. (Shiny Object Syndrome) That often signals a lack of clarity about what step to take next.
Spend some time considering where you currently are and the action steps you have listed. Heck, look at your big hairy goal. Is that still what you want? Use the knowledge and skills you’ve learned to make any logical adjustments as you see fit. The process is all about you!
Also, while you are executing your plan, endeavor to seek the advice of your peers. That could be someone like a former business partner, a trusted advisor, or a mentor. Such individuals might be able to provide some insight that you may have overlooked in the creation of your plan. They can also help you get clear about what you want and the next steps on the path.
Finally, for the best results, try to make them fun, creative, and more exciting. If possible, you could even turn your plans into a game where you reach checkpoints and complete levels. There are apps available that do this for you. The point to take home here is that your goals should build your interest long term and keep you focused and motivated on what is most important to you.
9. Reward Yourself For Reaching Your Goals
Another very important tip you need to take note of is cultivating the habit of rewarding yourself for reaching your goals. Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed by them or be in a hurry to complete each task and immediately move on to the next one.
Make it a habit of celebrating the big and small wins! You don’t have to be hard on yourself to meet a goal. In fact, being kind to yourself while staying focused and committed, is a better way to ensure success. So, put a little fun back into the process of self-discipline and self-control by building a reward system along with the milestones of your goal. Treat yourself for your hard work and dedication!
You may also find it helpful to identify your past successes and achievements. That works especially well when the going gets tough. Recall the various steps you took to achieve those goals. Go over the approaches you used, the strategies you employed, and carefully analyze how everything came together. Recall all of these accomplishments fondly and dedicate some time to celebrate the fact that you’ve been successful several times before.
After doing that, take the time to mentally or physically outline your consistent accomplishments and the skills that have brought you to this present moment. Acknowledge that you have earned every bit of your achieved goals and accomplishments. That will create in you an awareness of how small, consistent daily actions have been a catalyst for the achievement of your bigger goals.
When you finally succeed, take the time to treat yourself in style. Arrange a special outing or buy something special that you’ve wanted for a long time. Having such rewards in mind when struggling to pursue your goals will keep you motivated.
10. If You Stumble, Readjust, and Start Again
Our final tip is to have a never-say-die attitude when attacking your goals. You will face challenging situations that could knock you off your course and halt your progress. Just knowing this happens to even the greatest goal-setters can go a long way in helping you regroup when it happens to you.
When you find yourself in difficult situations, you may see it as a failure. However, it is important to understand that succumbing to difficulties isn’t a failure. It’s a chance to reevaluate your goal and the strategies and action steps to see if there’s a flaw in them. After all, you can’t be expected to foresee all issues that might come up in the future. You may find that gaining more clarity, redefining your action steps, or lengthening your timeframe is all that’s needed to boost your spirits back up so that you can get back on the horse.
Experiencing “failure” is very normal when you are trying to achieve your goals. It’s the catalyst that propels most people to become successful. History is full of many successful individuals who have experienced “failures” in their lives or careers. But they learned from them and became successful after applying the lessons learned.
Had Steve Jobs not been fired from his position at Apple, he would never have bought Pixar and then later transformed Apple into what it is today. If Walt Disney hadn’t lost his newspaper editor’s job for “lack of imagination,” we wouldn’t have Mickey Mouse. Colonel Sanders’ restaurant went bust, but he learned, adjusted his strategies, and today we have Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants around the globe.
From each of these experiences, we can see that “failure” shouldn’t be rejected, rather, you should embrace it. You should see “failure” as part of the journey – something that you need to meet and experience before you can achieve success. When you do this, you will appreciate your success even more.
So, if you fail, just like the men above, while trying to achieve your goal, pick yourself up, readjust, and start again. Most people fail once, and that is it for them – they don’t dare stand back up again. They chose to be defeated by the results they got and decide to play it safe, stay where they are in life, just to ensure never “failing” again. Don’t let this be you! Play big. And play to win.
If you ever feel overwhelmed by “failure,” and you don’t know what to do next, try to get away from the situation and do something different for a while. When Steve Jobs lost his job at Apple, he took three months off to reflect on his life before he came back to business. It was during this time away that he was able to realize what he truly wanted in life. After he knew what he wanted then deep in his soul, he knew nothing could stop him!
Learn to ask brutally honest questions about what went wrong and what can be done to remedy the situation. By asking yourself these thought-provoking questions, you’ll be able to identify what when wrong and how you can change it the next time.
Examples of the type of question you should ask yourself could be:
- Will I be able to reach my goals if I continue to do what I’m doing?
- Will I get the results I want?
- Are the successful and extraordinary people in my industry doing it this way?
- Are my current actions sufficient enough to generate the results I desire so that I can achieve my goals?
You don’t have to fail before you ask yourself these questions. In fact, it’s wise to ask them after you’ve planned how to reach your goals. If you notice that you are not making much progress, something may be wrong. When you consistently ask yourself these questions as you go along in your journey, you will be able to keep yourself on track by making mini-adjustments as necessary.
Also, don’t forget that you aren’t the first person who stretched for that goal. Learn from others who came before you. Learn new skills that will make it easier to be successful. Find a mentor, read books, take courses. After you learn a new skill or strategy, implement it. Recalibrate your plans and actions, so you are working smarter, which will lead to success.
It is not enough to just work hard. Hard work will only get you results faster, but it will not guarantee your success. If you focus all your energy on working hard but do so blindly, you will only end up failing faster. So, learn and tweak as you go.
Finally, it is important for you to recognize that “failure” does not define who you are. “Failing” at something today does not mean you won’t succeed in the future. So, if you “fail,” don’t conclude that you are a failure. Just go back to the drawing board if it’s a goal that’s important to you.
As earlier pointed out, goal setting is without a doubt, an integral and fundamentally important part of our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. When you set goals, you automatically take charge of the next chapter of your life. All that is needed is for you to decide what is your intended destination.
When next you want to set a goal, use these ten tips as your guide to help make success easier to reach. By consciously using them, you will be firmly established to withstand the unpredictable seas and the winds of change that may have hindered you from achieving your goals in the past.
- Write your goals down.
- Choose goals that mean something to you.
- Select goals that are exciting and a little outside of your comfort zone.
- Make your goals specific and measurable.
- Attach a timeframe to your goals to keep you on track and motivated.
- Create accountability for your goals.
- Don’t be afraid to think big!
- Create an action plan to attack your goals.
- Reward yourself for reaching each milestone or benchmark.
- If you stumble, readjust and start again.
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