You may think that the hard part of a goal is reaching it, but it’s equally as difficult setting the goal effectively.
A goal is similar to a dream or a hope, but there are two key differences – goals are measurable, and goals are specific.
For example, a hope or dream would be to lose weight or to get rich, but a goal would be to lose 2lbs a week for two months or to save £5,000 in 6 months.
Goals can keep you focused, motivated, and prevent you from feeling like you’re stuck in a rut. Having a goal to work towards can give you a sense of purpose and boost your overall productivity, which can benefit all areas of your life.
However, setting goals can be difficult – the way you set a goal can determine how likely you are to reach it. Thankfully, there are some guidelines to help you set goals effectively – keep reading to learn more.
1) Set SMART Goals
If you’ve not been meeting your goals despite putting effort in, it’s probably because your goals didn’t meet the SMART criteria. Goals should be:
Once you’ve considered what you want your goal to be, look over the criteria listed above and make sure that your goal meets it.
Consider whether your goal is specific – if it’s more of a general goal, try to pinpoint exactly what you want to achieve. For example, if your goal is ‘I want to be successful’, then try narrowing the goal down to ‘I want to be promoted at work’.
Your goal should also be measurable – you should be able to track your progress. It’s also important to ensure that your goal is attainable and realistic – if you don’t think you’ll be able to reach your goal, then there’s no point in setting it.
Setting a time limit can give you the motivation to work on your goal and can help you to track your progress. Instead of your goal being ‘I want to be promoted at work’, add a deadline to push yourself.
2) Consider Your Obstacles
When you’re setting your goal, it’s important to consider your obstacles. Everybody has their own personal obstacles – for example, if your goal is to run 50km in a week, then some obstacles may include needing new shoes, getting injuries, or wanting to rest.
If you’ve set this goal before and failed, ask yourself what went wrong. If it is simply an issue of motivation, you can overcome this by tracking your progress or listening to motivational podcasts.
However, if it’s a more difficult issue such as being able to afford the tools needed to reach your goal, then you may want to reconsider your goal or save it for a later date.
Setting goals can be scary, and you may not have much faith in yourself at first. This is something you can work on – try writing down any negative thoughts you have about the goal, and take some time to consider whether they are actually true.
3) Create A Solid Timeline
SMART goals should be time-bound, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Creating a timeline can keep you on track to reaching your goal, and let you know exactly what needs to be done and when.
Whether you decide to plan a timeline yourself or use a virtual timeline maker, it can really help you keep moving in the right direction when working on your goal. Set certain milestones for you to reach – for example, if your goal is to save £5,000 in six months, break it down.
Six months is far in the future, and it can be easy to stray from your goal if it’s in the future. Instead, set weekly or monthly milestones – for example, the first milestone can be to save £500 in one month, the next can be to have £1,500 saved the next month.
4) Dedicate Time For Reaching Your Goals
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when working on a goal is not putting enough time aside to reach their goal, essentially making their goal unattainable and unrealistic.
Creating a timeline can be very helpful when reaching your goal, but it’s pointless if you’re not actually going to commit to your goals.
Schedule tasks on a regular basis and ensure that you’re able to commit to them. If your goal is to run 100k in a month, then it’s important that you make time to practice a month beforehand, or that you actually make time to run most days.
Narrow down the tasks to certain times – if you know you work from 9 am to 5 pm, then ensure that you leave enough time for rest and relaxation as well as an hour or so to make time for your goal-related tasks.
Making time for your goals may mean that you have to forfeit other activities – you may have less time watching Netflix shows or playing Xbox, but it will all be worth it when you reach your goal.
Scheduling tasks and dedicating time is key to reaching goals – if you don’t put the time in, then you won’t reach your goal.
5) Write Your Goals Down
Goals are nothing if you don’t solidify them, and a way of making them more real is by writing them down. Whether it’s on a piece of paper, in your journal, or on a word document, physically writing or typing your goal is an important step to take.
Make sure that you’ll be able to see the goal every day. If it’s on your computer, laptop, or phone, then set it as your homepage or screensaver.
If it’s a physical piece of paper, pin it to your noticeboard or stick it on your bathroom mirror so you’ll be constantly reminded of your goal.
6) Picture Your Future
Take some time to truly think about whether the goal is for you. Is there something better you could be spending your time on? How will you feel when you reach your goal? What do you want your future to look like?
Asking yourself these questions can help you to decide if the goal is really for you, and will encourage you to consider what else your goals could entail.
7) Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Not everybody succeeds in meeting their milestones and goals – in fact, very few of us actually reach our goal the first time around.
The important thing is making sure that you don’t give up – you may have to make some changes to your plan, but be ready to adjust your timeline and you’ll get there in the end.
If you end up spending more than your dedicated amount per month, don’t beat yourself up – just try to stick to your plan next month.
If you order fast food while you’re trying to lose weight, it’s not the end of the world – just try your best to stick to your plan and don’t give up on the first hurdle.
Instead of beating yourself up when you don’t reach a milestone, celebrate when you overcome an obstacle, or when you meet your goal!