Goal setting - how to and why you should
While setting goals increases our chances of success exponentially, most people don’t have written goals. Partly because often we don’t take the time to really stop and think about what we want in life. Or because we are so busy thinking about the things we don’t want, it’s hard to see what we do.
If we do take the time to set meaningful, realistic goals, you’ll find a reason to strive and to stop wasting time on things that don’t add any meaning or value to your life. Follow this exercise, write down your goals and you’ll find taking action much easier and you’ll get more value out of the action you do take.
1. Let’s start with a time frame. I like to look at yearly goals, but you could use from now until the end of the year, or two yearly or five yearly. Think about the end of that time frame (let’s use the end of the year in our example) and imagine that it has been the most amazing, fantastic year that you have ever had. What three things in that year are you most proud of? Don’t take too much time to answer this, we’re after big picture here, not the detail right now.
2. Can you come up with a word or a phrase that encapsulates how you feel when you’re thinking about what a fantastic year you’ve had? What could you use to invoke that memory whenever you need to get back on track? Work that word of phrase into a picture that you can have close to hand. Use it as your screensaver or your lock screen on your phone. Have it somewhere that you see it all the time.
3. Let’s get more detailed now. Take one of the things that you wrote you were most proud of. Get really specific about it. What does it entail? When is it going to happen? Is there a number or other metric associated with it? How will you know when you’ve achieved it?
4. Now break it down. What are the smaller steps? They might be things that you have to do first or they could be smaller parts of the goal. For instance, if your goal is saving £5000, you may have to open a savings account first. You may have to research savings accounts before you can even do that. Make sure you know each part of the goal. Set out timelines for these smaller goals. I like to do quarterly, then monthly, then weekly goals as this way I can always see how I’m acting relates to that bigger picture.
5. Repeat steps three and four for each of the big picture goals you came up with.
6. Evaluate. Schedule time in your diary to reflect on your goals and your progress. Ask yourself, do I still want to achieve these goals? Does this plan still work? What could I change to make this more effective?