Goal setting is one of the fastest routes to achievement. Yet many of us find setting goals and achieving them a difficult task. This goal setting guide is designed to clear up your confusion about goal setting and teach you how to set goals and achieve them. More than that, I want to show you how you can use goal setting as a tool to push you to accomplish what you want to achieve, rather than just an exercise you go through once or twice a year and then forget about in between.
What Is Goal Setting?
So first, you need to be clear about what a goal is and isn't. You can't set achievable goals if you don't know exactly what they are. What's the difference between a resolution and a goal, for instance?
A resolution is an intention waiting for a plan. When we come up with our New Year's Resolutions each year, we're basically presenting our wish list. The resolutions we declare might be achievable or not. We'll never know unless we decide to do something about them, which means devising a plan of action.
That's why my Definition of Goal Setting is "the process of deciding what you want to accomplish and devising a plan to achieve the result you desire". By definition, resolutions are passive and goals are active.
Notice, too, that the definition mentions achieving a desired result. The implication is that we desire some change to our present circumstances or behaviors. Goal setting, therefore, is an intellectual exercise that we use to plan for the future and make changes to predicted outcomes.
How Do You Set Goals?
The first step to successful goal setting is to choose to set the "right" goals. 10 Goal Setting Tips explains how to choose goals that are worthwhile and achievable, as well as presenting tips on how to achieve the goals you set.
You may already have heard about SMART goal setting. SMART stands for "Specific, Motivational, Action-oriented, Relevant to your situation, Time-bound" and is a useful acronym for making sure you’re setting goals that are actually achievable. Achieve More With SMART Goal Setting explains how to put SMART goal setting into practice.
If you're only going to read one article about goal setting, though, read this one. In Setting Goals is the First Step to Achievement, I explain the basic goal setting formula that turns intentions into action plans.
Setting Business Goals
Business goals follow the same goal setting rules as personal goals. They, too, need to be relevant, actionable and "achievable stretches". Learn more about what this means in 3 Rules for Setting Business Goals.
Business goals, of course, are an inherent part of business planning. The Business Planning Makeover will show you how to create a Business Action Plan that will provide your small business direction for the coming year - or longer. When you've completed it, you will have a Vision Statement, a Mission Statement and specific business goals that enable you to put your business planning into action.
Examples of Goals
When you're setting goals, it can be helpful to see examples of goals. And writing your goals down is an important first step in committing to your goal and declaring that you will see it through and achieve it. Share your goals here.
How to Stick to It : Achieving Goals
In Achieve More With SMART Goal Setting, Kelley Robertson provides tips for achieving goals from listing the benefits of accomplishing a particular goal through using affirmations.
One of my favourite techniques for achieving goals is visualization. Here I explain How to Use Visualization to Increase Your Success.
But I think for most people, other people can also be a powerful motivator. Getting a Goal Buddy can be the key to goal setting achievement.
Using Goals to Spur Achievement
The power of goal setting lies in its ability to motivate us. To unlock this power, we have to do three things; let our goals challenge us in some way, keep our goals in the forefront of our minds, and keep our goals consistent.
So first, we have to make sure we're not shortchanging ourselves when we're setting goals. If the goal is no stretch for us, there's no point to it. For example, if I set a goal to run 2 km every day and I already run 1.8 km every day, I'm not challenging myself. Worse, I'm probably boring myself. A much better goal might be to participate in and finish a particular race. That would be more of a challenge and it's challenge that keeps us interested.
In terms of business goals, the vision statement is a useful challenge vehicle. It provides the inspiration for both your daily operations and your strategic decisions. How to Write a Vision Statement explains how. Sample Vision Statements provides even more examples.
Second, we need to stay focused on our goals. With all the things going in in our daily lives, it's easy for our goals to fade into the background. Both 10 Goal Setting Tips and Achieve More With SMART Goal Setting are packed with ways to make sure we continue to pay attention to the goals we set.
One of the best ways I’ve found to do this is to Start Each Day With Business Planning. Making goal setting a part of your daily routine can exponentially increase your chances of achieving your goal.
Third, we need to keep our goals consistent. That is, when setting goals, we need to be sure that none of our goals contradict or undermine each other. The easiest way to do this is to have an overarching plan. Working through my Business Planning Makeover, for instance, will show you how to create a framework of business goals by creating an action plan to move your business ahead.
Goal Setting Equals Success
In How to Join the Ranks of Goal Setting Achievers Paul Shearstone writes, "Setting goals is the genesis from which all things great and not so great are accomplished... It should be noted that there is no small coincidence between the one percent that write goals down and the highest achieving, highest income-earning men and women around the world."
Your own goal setting efforts may or may not help you to become one of these people. But I know that if you set the right goals and work at achieving them, you will experience success.