Many people think goal setting is something that only business and professional people need to do. But the fact is, goal setting can benefit literally everyone on the planet. In fact goal setting is part of the natural order of life, and we all naturally engage in the first step of goal setting every day.
Here’s a simple example:
You get in your car in the morning to drive to work, and it won’t start. You think to yourself, “I wish I could afford a new car”. That wishing is actually the first step in setting and achieving the goal to get a new car. Unfortunately, like many of us, you stop after that first step. Your primary focus at the time is getting to work by any means possible, then getting that car repaired so your life can settle back to normal. Lost in the whole process is the notion of getting that new car you wish you could have because you don’t have twenty or thirty thousand dollars just lying around, or even enough to make the down payment on a new car.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
By taking just one step beyond just wishing for something – turning your wish into a goal – you can set things in motion that will get you that new car, or whatever else you might wish for. Of course, just setting a goal won’t achieve the goal. You need to follow a goal achieving process. Here is a simple, but effective, process for achieving your goals:
Decide on your goals – What do you really want to work toward? What do you really want to be, do, or have in life? Make sure these are things that you want, not things that other people want for or from you. Size doesn’t matter here. The only real difference between big goals and small ones is the amount of time and effort it might take to achieve them. Having said that, it’s wise to start with a relatively easy goal, as long as that goal stretches you. Achieving such a goal will keep you motivated as you start working on larger goals.
Write your goals down – Writing a goal down in great detail increases the likelihood that you’ll achieve it. The more specificity, the better. You should also include a target completion date.
Tell someone about your goals – Telling someone you know about your goals also increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with them. This is especially true if that person is someone who will hold you accountable for your ongoing progress and overall achievement of the goal.
Break your goals down – This is especially important for big goals. Breaking a goal down into smaller intermediate goals will give you a greater sense of accomplishment along the way. For example, if your goal is to save $3,000 for a down payment on that new car by next year at this time, you could have 12 sub-goals to save $250 per month. As each month passes and your savings grow, so will your motivation to keep saving. You may even find yourself saving more some months and achieving your goal faster.
Plan your first step. The ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao-Tzu, said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Well, the same is true of goals. And the sooner you take that first step, the sooner you’ll reach your goal. Even if you don’t know where to begin, you can still take the first step by researching how to start. Between asking friends who might know, finding a book on the subject, or Googling “how to…” you can get the information you need to continue.
Stay focused and persistent – Working toward your goals will sometimes be challenging and frustrating, but you must persevere. If something you’re doing isn’t working, think of something else you can try that will move you forward, even if only a tiny bit. Another option is to ask friends and associates for ideas on what you might try. A different perspective is often all you’ll need to get yourself back on track.
Celebrate your victories – Whether it’s completing an intermediate goal, or achieving your end goal, celebrate it. Reward yourself in some way, even if it’s just an ice cream cone. This seemingly small celebratory gesture will keep you motivated to start working on your next goal.
Yes, you should start work immediately on your next goal. If you don’t already have another goal to start working on, make it your next goal to create and prioritize a goals list. The longer that list, the better; and continually adding to your goals list is best. You see, making and working toward achieving goals throughout your life gives you great power in all facets of your life.