Life is a journey – and it’s one that we only get to go on once, so it makes sense to have an idea of the direction we’re travelling in.
Goal setting is something that we all take for granted in a work setting – we have targets, objectives and aims all relating to the job we do, which - once achieved - will demonstrate we’ve done a good job. Seldom do we actually look within and set personal goals that will aid our self-development.
According to the Psychology Today journal, setting a specific goal makes us more likely to achieve the things we want, which is important when we’re looking to make a real change in our life. Regardless of whether we achieve the goals or not, the actual act of setting and striving for a goal is what makes us happier.
Very often though, we set goals due to the job we have and not the life we want to lead – without realising that happiness in ourselves makes us more effective at work as a by-product.
We’ve got six steps to setting successful goals that will mean something to you and the life you want to live:
Be positive: goals should be about what we want to do or achieve, rather than what we want to stop doing. A good example of this would be a focus on getting healthy, rather than stopping an unhealthy habit; or enabling others to fully engage in conversation, rather than stopping your habit of interrupting people when they’re talking.
Say what you mean: people respond to deadlines, treat your personal goals as you would work objectives – put a date against them and then build time into your diary to help you achieve the goal. You can’t measure success without dates, besides meeting deadlines gives us a great sense of achievement.
Prioritise: set more than one goal, by all means, but be clear about which you want to tackle first. Setting priorities helps us focus and direct our efforts where they are most needed.
Put it in writing: mental lists do not offer the same sense of satisfaction as a written list, fact. Writing down our goals makes them real and therefore more likely to be achieved.
Keep goals small and achievable: don’t sell yourself short by any means – goals are meant to stretch - and scare - us a little. However, it is much better to break down goals into incremental targets that we can realise, rather than have a goal that is so audacious we can only disappoint ourselves.
Don’t underestimate yourself: while setting goals that we can achieve is important, so too is making sure that we don’t set our sights too low. Goals should challenge, test and push us to be better people; to make best use of the skills and experience we have to improve ourselves and the impact we have on those around us. Never sell yourself short.
Having goals for things we want to do is an important part of life and what makes us who we are. Goals give us a sense of meaning and purpose, they point us in the right direction and keep us focused and engaged. Time spent setting personal goals is never time wasted and time spent achieving our goals is an investment in our own future.