Goal-setting is a formal process for personal planning. By setting goals on a routine basis, you decide what you want to achieve, then move step by step toward fulfillment. The process of setting targets allows you to choose where you want to go in life. By knowing what you want to achieve, you can plan out exactly what you have to do to get there. All else is just a distraction.
Goal-setting is a standard technique used by top-level athletes, successful businesspeople and achievers in all fields. It gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your attention and helps you organize a plan of action.
By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in their achievement. You can see progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind. You’ll also raise your self-confidence as you recognize your abilities. The process of achieving goals gives you assurance that you’ll be able to reach higher and more difficult objectives.
First, decide what you want to do with your life and what large-scale goals you want to attain. Second, break each goal into smaller tasks you can reach over specific periods of time. Once you have your plan, start working toward its realization!
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime. What legacy do you want to leave? What achievements or milestones do you want to accomplish? Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision-making. Consider some or all of the following:
- Education: Is there any knowledge, information or skills that will help you achieve other goals?
- Family: How can you purposefully create memories with your loved ones?
- Artistic/creative: Have you always wanted to learn to paint, do woodwork or play piano?
- Career: Are you doing what you love?
- Financial: Have you set a plan in motion for retirement?
- Physical: Do you need to lose weight, quit smoking or exercise more? What steps are you taking to achieve this?
- Pleasure: What is it you have always wanted to do—skydive, hike the Appalachian Trail, golf, travel? Don’t wait for the fun, plan for it!
- Public service: Do you want to make the world a better place? Set a goal to participate in the community for a number of hours each month.
Once you’ve set your lifetime goals, create a 10-year plan of smaller goals you should complete in preparation. Then set a five-year and one-year plan, along with a six-month and one-month plan of progressively smaller goals. Each should be based on the previous plan.
The following broad guidelines will help you set effective goals:
- Create a positive statement. Express your goals positively and with enthusiasm.
- Be precise. Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts wherever possible so you can measure your achievement. You’ll know exactly what you need to do.
- Set priorities. When you have several goals, give each a priority. Don’t set yourself up to fail. Be realistic. Too many goals is overwhelming and distracts you from the most important ones.
- Write goals down. This clarifies them and gives them more strength.
- Keep operational goals small. Keep your low-level goals small and achievable. If a goal is too large, it can seem that you’re not making progress and your motivation may wane. Keeping goals incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
- Set goals based on performance, not outcome. Take care to set goals in which you have as much control as possible. There’s nothing more disappointing than failing to achieve a goal for reasons beyond your control. These could be bad business environments, bad weather, injury or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on your personal performance, you can control their achievement and draw greater satisfaction.
- Set realistic goals. It’s important to set goals you can and want to achieve! All sorts of people (parents, media, society) can set unrealistic expectations for you. Set goals so they’re out of your immediate grasp but achievable. No one will put serious effort into a goal he believes is unrealistic.
A to-do list encompasses all the tasks you need to reach your goals. It consolidates all the jobs you have to do in one place. You can then prioritize these tasks, which allows you to tackle the most important ones first.
To-do lists are a simple and easy way of keeping yourself organized. Something that may seem overwhelming can be broken down into manageable tasks. Set a daily to-do list of items you should accomplish today to work toward your lifetime goals. At an early stage, these goals may be to read books and gather information that will help you reach your aims.
Track the Course
Review your plans and make sure they fit the way you want to live your life. Once you’ve decided your first set of plans, regularly review and update your to-do list. Periodically review the longer-term plans and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experiences.
Remember, your goals will change as you change. If they no longer hold any attraction, let them go. Goal-setting is your servant, not your master. It should bring you real pleasure, satisfaction and a sense of achievement. Failure to meet goals doesn’t matter as long as you learn from it. Feed lessons learned back into your goal-setting program. If you find yourself off track, just get back on the path.
When you’ve achieved a goal or milestone, enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Appreciate the accomplishment and observe the progress you’ve made toward the end goal. Reward yourself appropriately.
Having achieved this goal, review the rest of your plans. If you achieved the objective too easily, make your next a little harder. If it took a longer time to achieve, plan the next phase accordingly. If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so. Look at all you’ve accomplished!
Goal-setting is an important method to assist in deciding what’s important to you. After all, it’s your life.
Linnea Appleby is the owner of Lime Tree Management, a self-storage management and consulting firm based in Sarasota, Fla. The company provides acquisition due diligence, site audits, full property management and consulting. For more information, call 941.350.7859; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.