Goal setting is an essential part of personal and professional growth. Goals provide you with self-confidence and focus and as a result, keep you moving forward. Think of them as your recipe for success.
I am a huge believer in goal setting and recommend this process to everyone. I set personal and professional goals on an annual basis and check them regularly. These goals are adjusted throughout the year, and others are added as the need arises. This plan helps me stay focused and on track.
In December I begin working on the coming year’s goals and also review the prior year’s progress. Occasionally some of those older uncompleted goals may still be important and therefore are planned again in the New Year or tweaked slightly.
Before I discuss setting goals, let’s look at a brief description of the word.
Definition of goals
A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines. A goal is roughly similar to a purpose or aim, the anticipated result which guides reaction, or an end, which is an object, either a physical object or an abstract object, that has intrinsic value.
Why set goals?
Helps you take control
Imagine you get in a car to go to your friend’s house, but you don’t know how to get there? The same goes for every aspect of life. Without goals or direction, you are moving aimlessly. Therefore, be proactive and set goals that provide you guidance. Don’t let others dictate how your life should be. In other words, create your future. Setting goals creates your vision of how you want things to be.
Take baby steps. Don’t set too large of a goal right out of the gate, or you may be setting yourself up for failure. Planning smaller goals, in the beginning, will help propel you to achieve larger ones. In other words, you will become more ambitious with small wins, which in turn will lead you to more significant successes. Winning feels good, so the more winning you do in achieving your goals, the more you will want to do! It is with this momentum that will continue to push yourself forward to new and better things.
When you set a goal, you create a timeline and an endpoint. In your head, you’ve mapped out the steps you need to take. These steps create a laser focus for people. You can have all the ideas in the world, but without focus, you’re wasting your time and energy. As you begin to achieve your goals, you will be more focussed on only doing what will help move you forward. You will notice that you waste less time on tasks that don’t “move the needle.”
Goals push and motivate you to move forward. You will know what you want and, therefore, work towards it.
Holds you accountable
If you look back and realize that you were supposed to accomplish a lot more than you did, it will let you know that whatever you did isn’t working. Looking back can force the change you need to get where you want to be.
Goal Setting Steps
Set goals that motivate you
Do you want a new house, or a boat or a vacation in Italy? Pick goals that motivate you and make you commit. Put a picture of the boat you plan to buy where you will see it every day. As a result of this constant reminder, you will remain focused and motivated.
Choose SMART goals
- Specific – well-defined goals.
- Measurable – tie a specific amount etc. to your goals to provide a benchmark to measure yourself. For instance, I want to increase my commissioned sales by 10% this year.
- Attainable – set goals that are attainable but not too easy. I want to make $1.00… though feasible, it doesn’t make you push yourself.
- Relevant – pick goals that are relevant to what you want to achieve and keep you on the same path to achieving that goal. Don’t scatter yourself.
- Time-Bound – Set a deadline and be specific. In two months, you wish to have a new job.
Write down your goals
When you write your goals down, you formalize the process. Refer to these goals regularly to remind yourself of what you expect. Writing the goals down will also reinforce them in your brain. Above all, this will keep you accountable.
Make a plan
Setting goals are important, but you also need to map out a plan for achieving that goal. If your goal is to make 10% more in commission sales this year, how do you intend to do that? Three more appointments per week? More phone calls? If your goal is personal, like changing jobs, you need to plan out how you intend to make that happen. Part of this plan should also focus on your “why” or what is causing you to want to achieve this goal. Pulling emotion into your goals will help you strive harder.
Work your plan
Plan accordingly and follow through on what you set out to accomplish. Finish what you started and do so with a purpose! Check yourself on a daily or weekly basis against your goals and plan and adjust where needed. It makes zero sense to put together a plan and not work it. Why bother to waste time if you don’t plan to follow through. This is another time that your “why” can work to your benefit. When you feel like stopping, remember why you are doing this and refocus.
Get Started Today!
I learned a lot about how to set goals and achieve them over the years creating business plans for work, but my experience with personal goals started by listening to Tony Robbins and his series called Personal Power. There are plenty of useful websites to get you started that Tony and others offer.
Now that you know how to set goals and achieve them try it on your own this year. You won’t regret the time spent working on your roadmap for success.
Do you set goals, and if so, what do you do differently? Let me know in the comment section and click below for the free goal setting worksheets.
As 2019 comes to a close, this is the perfect post to motivate me to firm up my professional goals for 2020! I especially appreciate that setting goals helps to Provide Motivation and Hold You Accountable. Now I just have to write it all down and embrace the coming year!
Write it down so you can refer to it regularly. I write out my goals and keep them on my phone so I can always glance at them. and find your WHY!!!! Why are you setting this goal? It is important.
No matter who we are, or what situation we are in, having a goal is helpful. As you said, we need to make goals attainable because if we don’t, we lose faith in ourselves when we don’t achieve them. Likewise, making them too easy, gives us nothing to aim for. I’ll take a look at those websites you’ve listed. Great post.
Thanks Elizabeth. Work that plan!
Perfect timing with the holidays and New Year coming up. I always make a resolution but without making an actionable plan, it usually gets discarded after a few weeks. I’ll try to implement some of these tips for this year.
This is great advice!
Setting a big goal is a must. Otherwise, there is no point in doing anything.
Breaking down this ultimate goal into smaller ones and writing them down really helps moving forward more efficiently towards turning a dream into reality.
I’ve been a software engineer for over 20 years and studied project management. From my experience, the best practice is to define a short time period such as a week or two weeks, and set goals small enough (yet ambitious) to fit this period.
At the end of each time period, the goal can be checked off as completed only after full implementation, testing and proved results. If the goal was only partially completed, and the results are not confirmed yet, it moves over to another week.
It really works well, but requires strong self-control and organizational skills.
Thank you so much for the post emphasizing this great strategy in achieving success.
Thank you, Julia. It is true that smaller goals is best and having a plan is critical.
This is a great time of year to think about goals for the coming year. I have so many goals that I want to achieve next year related to blogging and just general life. I’ll definitely use these tips to make a solid plan for 2020. I think writing down your goals is a great idea.
Always best to write them down. It helps you commit more to those goals
This is such an awesomely well-timed post for me! I was literally just telling a friend of mine that Inthonk I need to start making some concrete professional goals for myself because right now ot feels like I’m just floating around aimlessly. I’ve never been much of a goal planner but after reading your post I can really see the benefit in it. I love how comprehensive this article is, and it makes me really excited to start planning for the future!
The sooner you start the better off you will be Lindsay!
I have heard somewhere that having an unwritten goal is not really a goal, but a wish. Formalizing the process around a goal confers seriousness to it and a degree of commitment to see it through. Continual tracking, adjusting and recording are all great ways to stay focussed and determined. It is all really worthwhile if you decide that this is worthy of the effort, given what achieving the goal will mean for you. This can be applied to almost any of life’s endeavors.
That is absolutely the saying!
I’m taking notes as I read this post. I’ve got big goals set up, but the scary thing is putting it into work. So this post was much needed
Sonia; download the goal setting worksheets and use them to guide you. It’s very simple.
Setting goal motivates me a lot. I have a list, I have a pen and I make crosses when I achieve it. It makes me super happy when I do. But it is not perfect. For example this year I didn’t achieve a goal I set early in January (it’s new years running tradition to me) because my life changed. I wanted to run some house improvements only to know we are moving later this year (in 2 days from now actually)
Add it to the list for next year.
Perfect timing! I’ve been thinking that I need to think about my next 5-year plan and breaking that down to annual, then monthly goals. Thanks for the motivation! (and the nifty planning doc)
Those are some great tips! Setting goals can actually help you a lot and make things easy and exciting. Good points to remember.
Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after looking at many of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely pleased I stumbled upon it and I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!