Do you feel like you keep setting goals, yet you never seem to be able to achieve them? You’re not alone. Most people and families feel this way. Sometimes the problem is that there are just too many goals and not enough time or energy to realistically achieve them all. Sometimes the goals actually conflict with one another, rendering them both unattainable. Other times, there may be setbacks that, instead of slowing us down on our path to the goal, actually derail us and take us off track, leaving our goal in the dust. Learn the basics of Goal Setting here!
Instead of feeling frustrated and powerless, which is a sure path to giving up, maybe it’s time to try a change in perspective about your goals. Take a good, hard look at the goals you think you should reach for and see if any of the following ideas help show you how to set goals and, more importantly, to achieve them.
Why Should You Set Goals?
The importance of goal setting can’t be understated. There are many benefits to setting goals and they can be a crucial step in doing great things with your life. Here are some reasons to get started with setting good goals:
Hold Yourself Accountable – You greatly improve the chances that you will get what you want if you write your goal down and set a finish date. If you can keep it in sight and look at it often, you will be reminded in times of doubt of what it is you are working towards. Keeping your word to yourself is the first step towards a good life.
Get Over the Big Mountains – Sometimes there is something that you desire to do or that must be done that you really don’t want to do. Often this can be because the task is complicated or very time-consuming. One way to stop procrastinating or avoiding it is to break that mountain down into smaller hills and get over the top of them one at a time. Without this kind of goal setting, you may not achieve anything.
Goals Can Help You Learn – When you set a goal and do not reach it, you are given an important opportunity to look back and reflect. You may often find that the goal was not really what you wanted in the first place. Sometimes this happens when the goal is reached, also. But, the good news is that without having set the goal, you may never have had this realization at all, or it may have taken much longer. The best thing to do is to learn from it and use what you’ve learned to set a new goal.
Setting goals keeps us moving forward. Setting goals can keep us motivated to improve and to be the best we can be.
Who Should Set Goals
Goal setting is not just for business people. Goals should be set in your personal life too. Kids should be taught early how to set good and healthy goals and then work towards them. Setting and reaching goals are key traits in those that are successful and happy.
How to Set Goals
To have a better chance of success it’s important to learn how to set a goal. Many people feel like failures not because they are, but because they have set goals that are unattainable or unrealistic. Learn how to set goals the right way and you will be quickly on your way to finding motivation in every task.
How to Set Goals in Life
Life goals can sometimes be the hardest goals to set and achieve. These are the big goals and sometimes they can take a lifetime to achieve. The important thing to remember when setting any big goal is to break it down into smaller steps. This will help to give you a sense of accomplishment along the way. Be sure your goal is a SMART goal as outlined below. Once you set it, check in with your goal often to make sure you are doing what needs to be done to reach it. If not, adjust or abandon. Don’t be afraid to make changes to your life goals as you learn and gain valuable experience.
How to Set Goals at Work
Even if your work situation doesn’t provide active guidance in goal setting, beyond the company’s own goals, you can learn how to set goals for yourself so that you feel confident in your work and your progress. Goals can help you to be more organized and efficient.
Start by assessing your daily tasks and looking for areas of repetitiveness or redundancy. If you are consistently falling behind, try setting some goals that will help to address this.
How to Set a Reasonable Goal
There are lots of approaches to goal setting theory and one of the most popular is SMART goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
These words are just guides to help you remember the essentials of good goal setting. Here are the components in detail.
As an example, let’s say we are tired of feeling out of shape and want to exercise more. If we just have a goal that says we want to get in shape, we don’t really have much to motivate us or keep us accountable to achieving the goal. How will we even know if we have attained it?
Instead we can set a goal to workout at the gym 2 days per week for the next month. Let’s see why this goal is better than the general goal of staying in shape.
Specific—This goal is pretty specific. We know exactly what we are going to do: workout at the gym. To get to this statement you can ask yourself questions such as:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- What steps am I going to take to get there?
Measurable—If you can measure your goal you can track your progress towards achieving it and feel a little motivation along the way. This goal says we are going to go to the gym twice a week. This is pretty easy to measure. Either we do it or we don’t do it. To determine how to measure your goal, you can ask yourself questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
Achievable—Most goals are achievable even if they don’t seem to be. Set big goals, but be sure you also break them down into smaller tasks that you can accomplish easily. Each time you accomplish a small goal you make progress on the large goal.
Realistic—Be sure your goal is realistic. Your goal should not rely on someone else’s behavior. Your goals should be yours and yours alone. With our example goal, we know we can get to the gym by ourselves and we won’t have to rely on a ride that may let us down one day. You could ask yourself these questions to make sure your goal is realistic:
- Have I done this, or something like this, in the past?
- Do the conditions exist that will not impede my progress towards this goal?
Time-Bound—Goals that have the word someday in them usually never last. To put a sense of urgency into your goals, make sure you have a deadline. Our sample goal gave us one month to make it a habit of getting the gym twice per week. Most people will put some pressure on themselves to reach this goal when they know the month is coming to an end.
If you need more help you can also find a goal-setting template online that will help you to formulate your goal. Goal setting worksheets often have divided pages in which you fill in the components that will become your goal. These can help to break down the characteristics of an effective goal. There are many templates available online and in books that provide guidance and examples.
If you are really stuck in getting started with goal setting, you could try to wake up your creativity with some goal setting activities.
- Imagine that you just won the lottery. What would you do with the money?
- Ask yourself what you would do if there were no limitations, nothing to stop you.
- If you don’t mind being a little bit morbid, try to put yourself in the position of only having six months left to live. How would you spend your time?
Your life is your journey and you should set your goals to move you along the path rather than as a final destination. Goals can help you to stay focused, stay motivated and to learn about yourself. However, if a goal is not working or you change your mind about achieving it, don’t be afraid to change it. Just make sure you come up with a new goal to keep you moving forward.
Learning how to set and achieve goals is a life skill that should be learned early. Even kids can be taught how to set personal goals. Instilling the habit while young is a great way to give your kids a bright future.