Setting goals

There’s no shortage of information on setting goals, everywhere you look there will be a book, website or expert devoted to this one subject, and there’s nothing wrong with any of them. In fact there’s a lot of good, beneficial help and advice available on this and many of life’s other difficulties and challenges. Equally though, there’s nothing wrong in first checking your understanding of what it involves and therefore helping you to decide if it’s what you really want and need.

Goal setting can be short or long term, it can be life changing to some or just a means to an end for others; it all depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to change your life completely, get back in control and stay in control, setting lifetime goals? Perhaps you just need to resolve a specific issue, realise a dream and plan a career change or setup a business maybe. You may want, or need to set several goals, in particular for lifetime goals you might wish to set goals for different categories of your life, career, finances, family, social life and so on. Either way the process is the same, you have an overall goal and several stages leading up to it, the difference between long and short term goals will be the time spans.
Goal setting isn’t new it’s used by many successful business people and achievers, and very often by top level athletes, sportsmen and women. It’s tried and tested, it enables you to focus on what you want giving you short term wins as you go, what you might have previously seen as a long boring slog now becomes a very positive journey. As you achieve the stages towards your goal, your self confidence will grow, this in turn motivates you to achieve more and so on.

Start with your overall goal; be true to yourself by making sure that it is a goal that you genuinely want to achieve, and not what someone else wants for you.

If you are setting more than one goal, prioritise so that you can concentrate on what’s most important to you without losing focus.
Set a time to achieve your goal, be precise include dates, times, amounts or whatever is needed to measure your achievement, so that you know exactly when it’s been achieved.
Set the stages, these are the smaller goals that lead up to your overall goal, they need to be manageable, small and achievable, this will help you to see what progress you’re making.
Make sure that your goals are within your control and not dependant on others, apart from the unexpected happening you don’t want your goals being determined by someone else.

Make sure that your goals are realistic; it’s true that all things are possible, but it’s also true that everything and everybody has limitations at any given time. You should set goals that challenge and take you out of your comfort zone; however setting goals that are unachievable is pointless.
A good way to keep yourself on track and focussed with your goals is to use the SMART mnemonic, it’s a well known widely used tool and it works.
Applying this model to each of your goals will help you stay focussed and ensure that your goals are realistic and achievable, each goal should be:

Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Timely

It’s important to build some kind of personal reward into the process; in this way you are able to recognise your achievements, keep you motivated and help build your self confidence.
Things often change, particularly with long term goals and it’s very important to review your plans on a regular basis, don’t be afraid to make changes or adjustments if or when the need arises. If you make a mistake or fail to achieve a goal, don’t give yourself a bad time, learn from your mistakes and build this knowledge into your adjusted plan.