Goals are a great way of giving yourself structure. When you don’t set goals, you may feel yourself drifting through life with no real purpose.
Even if you know what you want out of life, a goal cements the desire and gives you an action plan.
Goal setting is key to planning your life and gaining control over it. Understanding what goals are and how they can help you is key to success – but how do you set goals effectively?
We’ve got you covered – keep reading for our expert’s guide on how to set goals.
What Is Goal Setting?
Goal setting is essentially the act of turning a dream into a project and then ultimately your reality, increasing the chances of getting what you want or where you want to be.
Everybody will have their own unique goals and a different approach to setting and reaching goals depending on their personality, vision, and lifestyle.
A goal is identifying what you want to achieve and creating an action plan to achieve it. Most goals will have set milestones or deadlines – after all, if it doesn’t have an endpoint, then how will you know when you’ve reached it?
Goals can be placed into different categories – for example, financial goals, health goals, personal goals, professional goals, career goals and skill goals.
Why Set Goals?
Whatever your goal, you’re sure to benefit from not only reaching it, but from the motivation and discipline it requires in the process.
The vast majority of (if not all) successful people will have set goals to get where they are. In the business world, people will set professional goals to improve skills, learn new skills, grow their network, or further their careers.
Personal goals can help people in endless ways – whether it be learning a language, getting fit, or even gaining confidence.
The outcome of the goal is what people focus on the most, but the actual process can improve your life too. Working towards a goal can provide you with direction and a purpose, which can improve your overall mood and sense of self.
Goals also require dedication, commitment, motivation, and drive – which you’re sure to gain in the process of reaching a goal.
You can also learn a lot about yourself when setting, reaching, and achieving goals. You’re sure to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, as well as what you truly want out of life.
This can be extremely beneficial for your future, and make it easier to set and reach tougher or longer-term goals further down the line.
Click here for some motivational goal-setting quotes.
How To Set Goals Effectively
Now you understand what goals are and the benefits of setting goals, it’s important that you learn how to set goals effectively.
Setting goals can be difficult, and it required hard work and determination – but the tips we’re about to give you can help streamline the process and increase the chances of success.
Firstly, it’s important to have an understanding of yourself and what exactly you want to achieve. What does goal setting mean to you? Have you ever set a goal before? Were you successful? If not, what went wrong?
Use The SMART Framework
Any goal expert will tell you that SMART goals are the way forward. It’s at the core of any quality goal – and you’re much more likely to reach a goal if you follow the SMART framework.
SMART stands for:
- Realistic/ Relevant
When setting a goal, you should narrow it down. Instead of setting a goal of learning a new language, choose a language to learn. Instead of wanting to gain a skill, choose a specific skill and join an online course. Instead of trying to expand your network, create an action plan and attend networking events or netwalking.
Then, you should ensure that the goal is measurable. This will allow you to track your progress and know when you’ve reached milestones and you’re close to achieving your goal.
Let’s stick with the example of learning a new language – you could measure it by setting milestones such as learning to say a sentence, or learning the basic sentences needed for travel (e.g What time does the train come? Can I have a coffee with two sugars?).
The end goal would be to become fluent in a language, but you should be able to measure your progress.
Your goal should also be attainable. Setting a goal to learn a new language is an achievable goal, but you should be realistic with timescales – you can’t expect to learn a new language in a month or even a year.
Goals should be both realistic and relevant. If you’re planning a big trip to China, is setting a goal of learning Spanish relevant? Or if you’re happy in your job role, will you benefit from setting a goal to get a new job?
Finally, your goal should be time-bound. Take some time to consider an appropriate deadline for the goal – one that is realistic but will still motivate you to work towards it. If you’ve never learned a new language before, a deadline of 1 or 2 years would be appropriate.
Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress is key to understanding what’s going well and what’s not. If you track your progress, you can quickly identify any issues or obstacles in setting your goal.
Chances are, you’ll come across obstacles while trying to reach your goal. Tracking your goal is key to identifying these, and then you can change direction or make changes if necessary.
Tracking your profess can also allow you to see when things are going right, so you can celebrate and feel more confident in reaching your destination.
Ticking tasks off a to-do list can be rewarding, but achieving milestones in your goal journey can give you a greater sense of accomplishment.
Celebrating your achievements is sure to keep you on track and motivated to succeed, and can be very encouraging.
How you celebrate is up to you, but it’s best to make it relevant to your goal. If you’re learning a new language, why not go out for food in a restaurant of the language you’re learning (e.g if you’re learning Chinese, go for a meal in a Chinese restaurant).
Mark is a multi-award winner in business networking and relationship building. He is passionate about coaching and mentoring business owners and professionals through 1-1 & group coaching, team performance workshops and group mastermind sessions.