Goal setting is critical to your personal productivity. It is the single most important life skill that, unfortunately, most people never learn how to do properly. Goal setting can be used in every single area of your life, including financial, physical, personal development, relationships, or even spiritual. According to Brian Tracy’s book Goals, fewer than 3% of people have clear, written goals, and a plan for getting there. Setting goals puts you ahead of the pack!
Some people blame everything that goes wrong in their life on something or someone else. They take the role of a victim and they give all their power and control away. Successful people instead dedicate themselves towards taking responsibility for their lives, no matter what the unforeseen or uncontrollable events. Live in the present: the past cannot be changed, and the future is the direct result of what you do right now!
The Three P’s
Setting meaningful, long-term goals is a giant step toward achieving your dreams. In turn, setting and achieving short-term goals can help you accomplish the tasks you’ll need to achieve the long-term ones. It is also important to make sure that all of your goals unleash the power of the three Ps:
- Positive: Who could get fired up about a goal such as “Find a career that’s not boring”? Goals should be phrased positively, so they help you feel good about yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish. A better alternative might be this: “Enroll in pre-law classes so I can help people with legal problems someday.”
- Personal: Goals must be personal. They must reflect your own dreams and values, not those of friends, family, or the media. When crafting your goal statement, always use the word “I” in the sentence to brand it as your own. When your goals are personal, you’ll be more motivated to succeed and take greater pride in your accomplishments.
Possible: When setting goals, be sure to consider what’s possible and within your control. Getting into an Ivy League university may be possible if you are earning good grades but unrealistic if you’re struggling. In the latter case, a more reasonable goal might be to attend a university or trade school that offers courses related to your chosen career. You might also pursue volunteer work that would strengthen your college applications.
The SMART Way
SMART is a convenient acronym for the set of criteria that a goal must have in order for it to be realized by the goal achiever.
- Specific: Success coach Jack Canfield states in his book The Success Principles that, “Vague goals produce vague results.” In order for you to achieve a goal, you must be very clear about what exactly you want. Often, creating a list of benefits that the accomplishment of your goal will bring to your life, will you give your mind a compelling reason to pursue that goal.
- Measurable: It’s crucial for goal achievement that you are able to track your progress towards your goal. That’s why all goals need some form of objective measuring system so that you can stay on track and become motivated when you enjoy the sweet taste of quantifiable progress.
- Achievable: Setting big goals is great, but setting unrealistic goals will just de-motivate you. A good goal is one that challenges but is not so unrealistic that you have virtually no chance of accomplishing it.
- Relevant: Before you even set goals, it’s a good idea to sit down and define your core values and your life purpose because it’s these tools which ultimately decide how and what goals you choose for your life. Goals, in and of themselves, do not provide any happiness. Goals that are in harmony with our life purpose do have the power to make us happy.
- Timed: Without setting deadlines for your goals, you have no real compelling reason or motivation to start working on them. By setting a deadline, your subconscious mind begins to work on that goal, night and day, to bring you closer to achievement.
Prioritizing Your Goals
Achieving challenging goals requires a lot of mental energy. Instead of spreading yourself thin by focusing on several goals at once, invest your mental focus on one goal, the most important goal right now. When you are prioritizing, choose a goal that will have the greatest impact on your life compared to how long it will take to achieve. A large part of goal setting is not just identifying what you want, but also identifying what you must give up in your life in order to get it. Most people are unwilling to make a conscious decision to give up the things in their life necessary to achieve their goals.
Evaluating and Adapting
As we change and grow, our goals should change too. When you reach the target date set out in your goal, look at what you have achieved. Here is a checklist to help you out.
- What percentage of my goal did I achieve?
- Why did I achieve that percentage?
- What would I do differently next time?
- What is my next step?
- What other goals might need to change now?
In addition, keep an eye on new trends and ideas around you – you might just find one that will change your life.