Many people feel that they are drifting around the world. They are working hard, but they don’t seem to have achieved anything worthwhile.
The main reason they think this way is that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about what they want from life and haven’t set formal goals.
Let me ask you: Do you embark on a journey without a clear idea of your destination? Probably not!
How to Set Goals
Decide what you want to achieve first and then commit to it. Set SMART (concrete, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-limited) goals, and write them down to motivate you.
Then plan the steps needed to reach your goal and check each one to reach your ultimate goal.
Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future and motivating yourself to turn that future vision into reality.
The process of setting goals helps you decide where you want to go in your life.
Knowing exactly what you want to achieve will tell you where to focus. You can also quickly find potentially misleading distractions.
Why set goals?
Top athletes, successful businessmen, and top performers from all disciplines set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation.
It focuses on your knowledge acquisition and helps you organize your time and resources to get the most out of your life.
By setting clear goals, you can measure and be proud of achieving those goals, and see the progress. You will also gain confidence by recognizing your abilities to achieve the goals you have set.
Start setting personal goals
Set goals at several levels.
First, create a “big picture” of what you want to do in your life (or say in the next 10 years) and identify the large goals you want to achieve.
Then break these down into smaller and smaller goals that must be achieved to reach the ultimate goals of life.
Finally, once you have a plan, start working towards achieving those goals.
For this reason, we begin the goal-setting process by looking at the goals of your life. Then we can work on what you can do to move towards them in the next 5 years, next year, next month, next week, and today.
Step 1: Set Life Goals
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your life (or at least at an important and distant time in the future).
Setting goals in life provides a holistic view that informs all other aspects of decision-making.
Set goals in some of the following categories (or your other categories if they are important to you) to provide complete and balanced coverage of all important areas of your life.
Career: What level of your career do you want to reach, or what do you want to achieve?
Finance: By what date and how much do you want to earn? How does it relate to your career goals?
Education: Do you have any particular knowledge you would like to acquire? What information and skills do you need to reach the other goals?
Family: Do you want to be a parent? If yes, how do you become a good parent? How would you like to be seen by your partner or a member of your extended family?
Artistic: Are there any artistic goals you want to achieve?
Attitude: Is part of your thinking hindering you? Are there any parts of your actions that upset you? (If yes, set goals to improve those behaviours).
Physical: Are there any sports goals you want to achieve or stay healthy in old age? What steps do you take to achieve this?
Fun: How do you want to have fun? (You need to make sure that part of your life is for you!)
Public Services: Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?
Take the time to think about these things before choosing one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming your goals to have a small set of really meaningful goals to focus on.
When doing this, make sure that the goals you set are the ones you really want to achieve, not the ones your parents, family, or employer want. (If you have a partner, you probably need to consider what your partner wants, but make sure you’re loyal to yourself too!)
Step 2: Set a smaller goal
Once you have determined your life goals, create a 5-year plan of smaller goals that you need to meet to achieve your life plan.
Next, to achieve your life goals, gradually reduce the goals you intend to achieve to create a 1-year plan, a 6-month plan, and a 1-month plan. Each of these should be based on the previous plan.
Next, create a daily to-do list of what you need to do today to work towards your goals in life.
In the early stages, your small goal may be to read a book and gather information about achieving your larger goal. This can improve the quality and realism of goal setting.
Finally, review your plans and make sure they fit the way you want to live your life.
Once you’ve decided on your first goal, keep the process running by reviewing and updating your to-do list daily.
Regularly review and revise long-term plans to reflect changes in priorities and experience. (A good way to do this is to schedule repeated reviews regularly using a computerized journal.)
A convenient way to make your target more effective is to use the SMART
reminder. SMART is usually an abbreviation for:
S — Specific
M — Measurable
A — Attainable
R — Relevant
T — Time-bound
For example, instead of setting the goal of “travelling to exotic places”, it is more effective to use SMART’s goal of “travelling to 10 exotic places by October 20, 2025”.
Of course, this can only be achieved if you have a lot of preparation in advance!
Tips for Setting Goals
The following general guidelines will help you set effective and achievable goals.
Specifically: Set specific goals, and enter dates, times, and amounts so that you can measure performance. Doing this will tell you exactly when you reached your goal and make you happy.
Prioritize: If you have multiple goals, prioritize each one. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed by too many goals. Write down the most important goals.
Keep your active goals small: Keep low-level goals you’re working on small and achievable. If your goal is too big, it may look like nothing is going on. Keeping your goals small and tiered will increase your reward opportunities.
Set performance goals: You need to be careful to set goals that you can control as much as possible. Failure to reach your personal goals for reasons beyond your control can be very disappointing! By setting goals based on your personal performance, you can keep track of your goals and get satisfaction from them.
Setting realistic goals: It is important to set goals that can be achieved. People of all kinds (employers, parents, media, society, etc.) can set unrealistic goals. You often do this without knowing your desires and ambitions.
Once you have achieved your goals, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving them. Record the impact of achieving your goals and monitor the progress you have achieved with other goals.
If your goal is important, reward it appropriately. All of this will help you build the confidence you deserve.
Use your experience in achieving this goal to review the remaining goal plans.
If you can easily reach your goal, make your next goal more difficult. If it takes a disappointingly long time to reach your goal, make your next goal a little easier.
If you have learned something that will change other goals, do it. If you’ve achieved your goal, but you’ve identified a lack of skill, decide whether to set a goal to address it.
Apply lessons learned to the process of setting the following goals: Also, keep in mind that your goals change over time. Adjust them regularly to reflect the growth of your knowledge and experience, and consider abandoning any when your goals lose their appeal.
An example of personal goals:
Natalie sat down and thought about the coming year. She thought long and hard about what she wanted to do with her life.
These are Natalie’s lifetime goals:
Career: “To be a highly successful workshop facilitator in motivating people over 40 to be in peak physical and mental health.”
Artistic: “To keep improving on my drawing skills. Ultimately I want to publish my drawings in a best-seller book.”
Physical: “To run 5 miles every day.”
Now that Natalie has listed her lifetime goals, she then chunks them down into smaller, more practicable goals.
Looking at how she may chunk down her lifetime career goal of facilitating workshops:
5-year goal: “Become a successful facilitator in my local area.”
1-year goal: “Facilitate 3 free workshops a week to get my name out there within my local and surrounding areas.”
6-month goal: “Go to Toastmasters to learn the skill of facilitating.”
1-month goal: “Read books and study courses to determine what skills are required to become a successful facilitator.”
1-week goal: “Identify the books and courses I require for this goal.”
As you can see from Natalie’s example, her chunking down the big goal into smaller, more practicable goals makes it a lot easier to see how she will achieve her ultimate goal.
Key Points to Goal Setting
Decide what you want to achieve in your life.
Separate the important from the unimportant.
Build self-confidence based on successful goal achievement.
First set your life goals. Then create a 5-year plan of the small goals you need to meet to achieve your life plan.
Keep the process ongoing by regularly reviewing and updating your goals. And don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goals.
If you haven’t set a goal yet, set it now. Make goal-setting an important part of your life.