The rush that comes from achieving your goals is one of life’s greatest pleasures. For many people, the idea of setting goals, let alone achieving them, can feel uncomfortable and lead to goal-setting resistance.
However, the path towards success is one best travelled with clear goals in mind to steer you along the way, lest you wander off into procrastination and disarray. Let’s get you back on track with this quick five-step guide to setting goals that you won’t be able to resist achieving.
1. Get the big picture sorted first
The first task is to decide what it is you’re going to achieve. For some people, this is the easiest part of the whole process, but for others, it is the hardest. If you’re struggling to define what your end result looks like, try talking with your friends, family and mentors. Or make use of mindmapping as a way to get all your ideas out in the open.
When you think you’ve got a clear vision, pause for a moment to decide whether these goals are achievable. If you’re worried that they’re not, that’s completely fine and recognising this is one of the key skills in setting meaningful goals. Simply reassess and reimagine your goals, perhaps breaking them down into smaller pieces until they feel like something you can do.
TIP: Decide where you’re going, then map out the path that’s going to take you there.
2. Break it all down
Like people, goals can come in all shapes and sizes. Categorising your goals can help keep them clear in your mind and allow you to work towards multiple achievements at the same time. A good place to start is with daily, career and life goals:
Daily goals are things you want to achieve in your everyday life and can be as simple as looking at your phone screen less or eating more fruit. Daily goals are a powerful tool for achieving long term goals. Do you want to lose 20 kilograms over the next year? A way to break that down would be to set yourself the daily goal of walking 5000 steps every day.
Career goals are things that deal specifically with your career, work and business aspirations. Consider goals like gaining a new qualification, meeting a certain performance target or opening up a new store.
Life goals are the ones that deal less with work and more with you. They can be milestone decisions like having children or simple changes like learning to cook one new dish every week. Keeping life goals separate from your career goals can help provide all-important work/life balance.
TIP: If your career goals are large and confronting, it can be useful to set a few fun, achievable life goals to keep yourself centred.
3. Keep track of your progress
According to goal-setting experts, tracking your goals is one of the key factors in determining if you’ll ever reach them. In order to track goals successfully, it’s important to set goals that are measurable.
Say you’re a decent tennis player, eyeing off a spot on the world tour. “Be great at tennis” is an example of a vague goal. There’s no real objective scale to measure it against, nothing that makes it simple and easy to track, and also no clear endpoint to strive towards achieving.
Something like “become a professional tennis player” is measurable but lacks specificity and is still not easily trackable. “Reach a ranking in the top 100 tennis players in the world” is specific, easy to measure and something you can track the entire way. ‘One day’ isn’t a day of the week, either! “Reach a ranking in the top 100 tennis players in the world by the end of next year” has all the pieces of a goal that can be aced.
TIP: Make your goals even better by adding a time frame for when you’ll have it done.
4. Be accountable
This step is where you share your goals with other people. If you feel shy or embarrassed about sharing goals, choose people who you know you can trust to support you. If you have a mentor or friend who is good at goal setting, ask them to meet with you once a week, or a month to check how you’re going. Or find a goal buddy and help each other by sharing goal setting tips, strategies and most importantly to make sure that you’re both staying on track.
Otherwise, simply sharing your goals with your family and friends over the dinner table means that they’ll invariably ask you about your progress from time to time. If you do feel the need for privacy, or if you want another layer of accountability, consider starting a goal journal that you write in each day. A journal is a great tool to keep track of your success, record your challenges and monitor your overall progress.
TIP: Write your target on the last page of your goal journal and aim to have reached it before you fill the pages.
5. Be SMART
An easy way to support your goal setting is with the common acronym SMART. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.
TIP: You can read more about setting SMART and SMARTER goals here.
BONUS TIP: When you do finally cross the finish line and achieve your goals, remember to take time to celebrate and enjoy your success. Share your journey with others who will appreciate and acknowledge the hard work you put in along the way. Then refocus and set about achieving your next career and life targets.