A goal is a desired outcome that a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieving within a certain time frame.
Goal setting is important because it gives us a sense of pride and achievement when we reach the finish line.
It also increases our self- confidence, as we begin to realise our own abilities throughout the process of achieving the goals we’ve set for ourselves. Setting goals also keeps us motivated to achieve what we want in life.
Sadly, many of us are guilty of failing to accomplish the goals we set. Somewhere along the line, we get too busy or discouraged by the small factors which seem like huge obstacles hindering us from reaching our goals.
Fret not, here are three important steps we can follow to reach our goals:
Our goals should describe our accomplishments. It should be something we know we can achieve, where we can feel, see, hear, or touch the results.
You can try using the S.M.A.R.T technique to set your goals. There are different variations on what the acronyms stand for, but in general it means:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Action-oriented
R – Relevant
T – Trackable
Your goals have to be specific (S). Specific goals are more achievable than general goals. Clearly define what is it you want to do, how you want to do it and by when this should be done.
An example of a general goal would be “I want to get a promotion”. A specific goal would be “I want to be promoted to vice-president of the sales team by September 2013” One way to set a specific goal is to ask yourself these questions:
1. Who is involved?
2. What is it you want to achieve?
3. Why do you want to achieve it?
4. How are you going to achieve it?
5. By when do you want to achieve it?
Make your goals measurable (M). Measurable goals have concrete criteria for measuring your progress in achieving your goal. There should be a clear way for you to know when your goal is accomplished.
Your goals should be action-oriented (A). There should be ways for you to achieve your goal. Action-oriented goals help you decide the attitude, skills and abilities you need to develop in order to reach your goal.
Relevant goals are realistic (R). Your goal should be something you are both willing and able to achieve.
A common misconception people have is that high goals are unrealistic and impossible to achieve. Whether a goal is realistic or not depends on you. If you have the willpower to work towards your goal, then it can definitely be achieved.
Your goal should also be trackable and grounded within a time frame (T). A time frame creates a sense of urgency and keeps you motivated. Instead of saying “I’m going to get myself that car” say “I’m going to get myself that car by Oct 30, 2014”. You will make much more effort into making the second goal happen, because you just gave yourself a deadline.
Strategise and plan
Now that you have set your goals, the next step would be strategising and planning. Here are a few basic strategies to keep yourself on track to reach your goals.
1. Paste your goals where you can see them everyday
Print your goals out and place them around the most prominent areas in your house and office. These act as daily reminders and keep you motivated.
2. Create a visualisation board
Most of our minds see things in images instead of text and numbers. One way to help keep track on achieving your goals is by creating a visualisation board. A visualisation board is something like a bulletin board, where you paste visuals of the thing that you want to achieve. The added visual simulation can help by invoking emotions which would constantly motivate you. Place your visual board in a place you are sure to look at everyday.
3. Form a support group
Form a small group consisting of people who you trust and are reliable. The group acts as a support system. Each of you should share your goals with each other, and the group should meet on a regular basis, perhaps once or twice a month to check on where you are at reaching your goals.
The support group helps to keep members accountable, and helps you maintain consistency in your actions towards achieving your goals.
4. Create a daily action plan
You need to set an action plan with active tasks for you to follow everyday to achieve your goals.
Writing and visualising your goals alone will not bring you to the finish line. You have to actively work towards achieving your goals. One way to do this is to create three small tasks everyday and make sure that you complete them before the end of the day.
Make it a priority that you complete these tasks, even fit them in your schedule if you need to. Being able to complete these tasks actually plays a vital role in ensuring you reach your goals.
5. Set a timeline with mini deadlines
One way to keep track of your goals and ensuring that you achieve them by the deadline is to set a timeline with a few check points.
For example, if the deadline for your goal is December 2014, set a quarterly deadline to keep yourself on track. Which means, by April, you will need to achieve A, and by July, you would need to achieve B, and so on until you reach your final goal in December. Having these small deadlines will help you push yourself further and harder towards achieving your goals.
Take action and stay focused
Now that you have your goals and your strategy all planned out, the only thing left to do is to take action and use your time and energy productively to reach your goals. It is very easy to get distracted. Keep your focus and get rid of distractions so you can increase your productivity to achieve more of your goals.
The final, and most important element to help you achieve your goals, is to believe in yourself.
Along the road there will be obstacles which will come your way, and these obstacles can hinder you from achieving what you meant to achieve.
At this point, remember to shut out all the negative criticisms from other parties and from yourself. Having said that, having constructive, positive criticisms can help push you further.
The important thing is to always keep your eyes on the goal, and believe that you will get there, and you most definitely will. All the best in achieving your goals!