Why Set Goals?
Top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields all set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organise your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life.
By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. You will also raise your self-confidence, as you recognise your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you’ve set.
Starting to Set Personal Goals
You set your goals on a number of levels:
- First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life (or over, say, the next 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve.
- Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals.
- Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.
Step 1: Setting Lifetime Goals
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant and distant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.
To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):
- Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your business goals?
- Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
- Family – How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
- Attitude – Is any part of your mind-set holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behaviour or find a solution to the problem.)
- Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
- Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
Step 2: Setting your Business Goals
Now you’ve got clarity on where you want to be it’s time to ask yourself:
- Where is the business going – is it on the right trajectory to deliver what you need?
- What do you want out of it – to enable you to achieve your personal objectives?
- How many more customers do I need to generate the revenues and margin required to hit my growth targets?
- What does everything look like in the next 12 months, in 3 years’ time – does it fit with my objectives?
- What needs to happen to achieve that?
Spend some time brainstorming these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do.
Step 3: Narrow the list to Five Goals
Fair warning: This is NOT easy. But narrowing goals is the difference between rapid growth and stagnation.
According to Warren Buffett, the key is to never diverge from this list until you feel confident in your ability in each category. Never, ever, ever.
Step 4: Staying on Course
Once you’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your progress on a daily basis. Every month review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience.
Further Tips for Setting Your Goals
The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:
- State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – “Execute this technique well” is a much better goal than “Don’t make this stupid mistake.”
- Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
- Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
- Write goals down – This crystallises them and gives them more force.
- Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you’re working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
- Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control!
- Set realistic goals – It’s important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. It’s also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.
Step 5: Achieving Goals
When you’ve achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you’ve made towards other goals.
If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve. With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:
Goal setting is an important method of:
- Deciding what you want to achieve in your life.
- Separating what’s important from what’s irrelevant, or a distraction.
- Motivating yourself.
- Building your self-confidence, based on successful achievement of goals.
Set your lifetime goals first. Then, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan. Keep the process going by regularly reviewing and updating your goals. And remember to take time to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goals when you do so.
If you don’t already set goals, do so, starting now. As you make this technique part of your life, you’ll find your business accelerating, and you’ll wonder how you did without it!
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How to Stay Motivated provides you with clear and proven techniques to use to enhance relationships, improve your self-image, set and achieve goals, and so much more! Setting and achieving your life goals are among the most important activities in which you can apply yourself, as your goals will set the course of your most important decisions.
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