By Pat Headley
Goal setting is a great way for anyone to improve their life and change their situation. Whatever your ambitions are, with a great plan of action and thorough implementation you can achieve it. People are shown to produce better results when they are motivated towards specific goals.
Setting goals enables you to focus your energies on clear, measurable progress and to stay on track. It helps you to channel your activities towards your top priorities and avoid getting distracted by irrelevant tasks.
One of the most important keys to setting goals is ensuring that you will follow through and achieve them. Studies have shown that there are several key elements which help contribute to a persons success in goal achievement:
Whether you expect to be successful or not (and how positive your expectations are)
Your self image and fundamental beliefs about your ability to achieve goals
The level of commitment you have to achieving the goal
Furthermore research has shown that specific and challenging goals lead to higher performance than easy ones. To get yourself to achieve some kind of performance, its important that you have clarity about exactly what you want yourself to do. By this I mean clear, specific actions.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself before setting your goal:
Do I believe I can attain this goal?
Am I committed to achieving this?
Setting Personal Goals 101
For starters you can begin with a series of simple questions which will help you hone in on what is important to you, and set relevant goals for your life:
Where do you want to be in 10 years? What do you want to have accomplished by then?
What do you want to accomplish in your life?
If you could achieve just three things and feel great about yourself, what would those be?
Look at the big picture of what you want your life to be like, then break that picture down into a series of large goals. Take those large goals and bring them down into a set of steps. Achieving each goal will require a number of steps. Identify what those steps are and how you will go about achieving them.
Look at the different relevant areas of your life and set goals in the short and long term for each of them:
> Success (however you define it)
Think of what is most important to you and what you want to achieve in your life for each of those areas.
The SMART Criteria
Each of your goals should be set according to the SMART criteria which is as follows:
Specific – You want to make your goals highly specific so that anyone could determine if you had achieved your goal or not
Measurable – You want to set criteria that is measurable by some standard. For example instead of saying Financial Freedom say $1,000,000 in the bank.
Action Oriented – Instead of focusing on what you want to accomplish, focus on what you are going to do. Instead of saying “have savings in the bank” say “save 10% of my income from every paycheck and put it in long term investments”
Rewarding – Pick something that you are going to enjoy and that will make you happy. Try to set your goals on the positive instead of the negative. Instead of saying “work out everyday” say “go to the gym and attend my yoga sessions with my friends.” Try to make your goals as positive and enjoyable as you can.
Timely – Set a time limit for your goal so you cannot procrastinate or extend the deadline. This forces you to get off your butt and into action.
Once you have your goals set down clearly, you need to prioritize those goals by order of importance. Take your list and arrange them by the most urgent goals which must be achieved right now.
If you haven’t achieved goals in a while you may want to start with a smaller goal that you can achieve quickly. This will help to give you confidence and motivation. When your priorities are set it now comes down to time management.
Are you going to play on the computer instead of focusing on your priorities? Which is more important to you, a little fun watching TV now? Or a lifetime of financial freedom by putting in the time to learn about investing.
When your priorities are clear you now need to change how you allocate your time. Give more of your time to your priorities and less of it to everything else. This will cause you to achieve your goals faster than almost anything else.
Set clear goals, know what you want, and once you are clear about what needs to be done, allocate the necessary time to accomplish it. Goal setting doesn’t have to be hard when you have clarity and a clear plan of action. With those in place, all that’s left is to go do it. So go get started!