Why Goal Setting Activities are very important in our life? Someone very smart once said, “How we spend our days is how we spend our life”. Life doesn’t usually change overnight (as much as we would often hope it would). It changes because we make little tweaks in our daily habits. Sometimes we do it intentionally. But a lot of times we just kind of start doing something differently, considering it to be insignificant minor change, but these small actions add up to huge life changes over time.
The key to simple goal setting is to not have too many goals. While that’s not always possible for some people, having too many goals makes things complicated and requires a more complicated system for keeping track of your goals.
Keep things as simple as possible if you can. That has the added benefit of allowing you to focus your energies on a small number of goals, making you far more effective with them.
I prefer to break goal setting problem into three parts:
- How to choose goals
- How to get there
- How to keep track of all your goals and actions
How to choose goals
There is no perfect answer here. Some people have known for awhile now what they really want, but just haven’t pursued it, and for them, it just takes a little contemplation to realize what they’ve wanted all along. Others will have a more difficult time, as they have never figured out what their dream is, or what they’d like to accomplish.
For them, I’d make a few suggestions:
- Take some time for quiet contemplation.
- Think about what’s important to you.
- Think about what you’d like people to say about you when you die.
- Brainstorm — make a list of all the things you’d like to do in life, things that sound fun and exciting and wonderful, and then choose the best of the list.
- You don’t have to come up with your life goals right now. You could just think of something you’d like to achieve over the next 6 months to a year, and continue to explore different things until you find your dream.
Using SMART to Inventory Your Goals:
Let’s look at the SMART mnemonic a little more in depth. See if your own goals meet the following criteria:
- Specific-Specificity is key to achieving a goal. You want to be as concrete as possible when analyzing your goal. Really break it down.
- Measurable-A goal is measurable when you are able to document a clear progression from beginning to end, preferably with milestones in between.
- Action-Oriented: Action oriented goals are able to be broken down into smaller pieces, little micro-goals that you can get started on right away.
- Realistic-Realism means asking yourself what you can achieve with the resources at your disposal, and being honest about it’s attainability. This doesn’t mean that you have to squash any goals, it might just mean you have to adjust them.
- Timely-Open-endedness is a goal’s nemesis. Being timely doesn’t mean that you have to race to the finish line, it just means that you need to give yourself a finish line to run towards.
Visualization is a wonderful place to start if you aren’t completely sure where to begin, or even if you aren’t entirely sure what your goals even are. It can help in these situations to make a visualization or goal board to get your creative juices flowing.
- A piece of paper, large posterboard, or journal
- Images gathered from newspapers and magazines
- A visualization board is essentially a collage–adhere the images to your board. It can be helpful to establish a visual hierarchy as well by placing higher priority goals or goals with approaching deadlines at the top of the board.
- You aren’t limited to just pictures–grab quotes you like, or even business cards that represent your field of interest. You can continue to add to your board over time, so don’t think that you have to put it all together in one evening. Take your time!
- As you progress, cross off items that you’ve accomplished, or write notes that help you keep track of progress.
- Make multiple boards! You can have a career board, a relationship board–whatever your goal, you can develop a board around it.
Visualization is usually used as a supplement to other goal setting activities, and is successful because it plays to the adage of “seeing is believing”. An excellent motivational tool to use alongside your board is visual replacement. Document yourself achieving your goals with a camera, and replace your original images with the images of yourself once you’ve accomplished those particular goals.
How to get there:Action Plan for Goal
If you know your goals, the next question is how to get there. An action plan is a goal-setter’s best friend, because it gives you a very clear outline of the what, where, and how of accomplishing your goal. Writing an action plan down in the form of a list, timeline, or categorized benchmarks also plays to your sense of sight, and has the added benefit of giving you that satisfaction of checking something off or marking it “complete”.
- Have a clearly defined goal with a clearly defined outcome — you should be able to visualize what it looks like when you’ve accomplished the outcome.
- What is the last thing you’ll need to do to achieve that outcome? If your goal is to publish a novel, for example, the last thing you’ll need to do (before the publisher does the layout and design, printing, marketing, etc.) is edit and submit the final draft.
- What is the thing you’ll need to do just before that step? In the above example, you might want to get an outside editor to review your draft and give your criticisms and suggestions and edits.
- What is the thing you’ll need to do before that step? In the example, you’d need to do a revised draft to submit to your editor.
- And so on, until you get to the first step. The first step is what you need to focus on. In the novel example, you might have “brainstorm novel ideas” as your first step.
If you follow this plan, you’ll have a step-by-step guide to achieving your goal. Now you just need a way to track your goals and achieve them.
How to track and achieve your goals
Break your goal into short-term goals. The reason you should only focus on one goal at a time is that it’s hard to track a whole bunch of goals, and it’s hard to maintain focus on more than one goal at a time. If you just have to accomplish one thing this week, you can really put your energy into making it happen. But if you need to do 3-5 things in the next two weeks, it’s much more likely that you won’t do any of them.
So, focus on your short-term goal (1-2 weeks) and then when you complete it, choose the next short-term goal to get you to your medium-term goal. Once the medium-term goal is accomplished, choose a new medium-term goal to get you to your long-term goal (1 year). Once your long-term goal is accomplished, set your sights on a new long-term goal. Keep this up, and you’ll achieve a lot.