How Do You Set Your Goals?

Whether you have small dreams or lofty expectations, setting goals allows you to plan how you want to move through life. Many people work hard, but they don’t seem to get anywhere worthwhile. A key reason is they haven’t taken the time to set formal goals for themselves. Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of your future into reality.

Set Achievable Goals
Determine your life purpose. These can be high level and broad goals; for example: I want to run a large business; I want to provide a service to help people; I want to become a billionaire; I want to have a family with 3 children, etc. Try to set goals for different dimensions of your life.

Make Your Goals Specific
To decide that you’re going to run a business is nice, but provides you with no guidance for doing that. It would be much easier to accomplish your goals, if you know exactly what you’re going to do.  Ask yourself questions to get to the specifics; for example, you may want to learn to manage a business effectively and open an independent bookstore.  Next, think about at what state, city,  neighborhood,  so on so forth.

Commit to Your Goals
You need to dedicate yourself to accomplish the goal you have chosen. That’s why writing your goals down is a common tip; it’s the first step to committing to achieving your goals. But you also have to realize that accomplishing a goal is not an overnight process and that you are going to have to work regularly at transforming your goal into an accomplishment. And you have to set aside the time you will need to work on your goal.

Prioritize Your Goals
Goals don’t have to be huge projects that take months or even years to attain, but because they require commitment and need to be worked on regularly, every single goal that you set will be demanding.  Work on no more than three goals at a time, and even then you should choose one goal as your top priority.

Visualize Your Success
For generations, it has been a common practice of athletes, entertainers, and entrepreneurs to use visualization as a way to reach their goals.  For some people, imagining future success is easy. It’s something to occupy your mind on the daily commute, in the shower, before falling asleep, procrastinating from work, and otherwise killing time. It’s like shooting a movie in your head.

Set Deadlines
A goal without a deadline is a goal that you have not fully committed to and chances are you wont meet your goals. It’s important to have a deadline, because it will shape your plan of action.

Evaluate Your Goals
Remember that goal setting is a process – and evaluation is an important part of that process. Don’t just settle for a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ assessment; think about what you did, how you did it and what you got out of it. Whether you successfully accomplished your goals or not, there’s always something to be learned; what works or doesn’t work for you, whether achieving your goal lived up to your expectations, why you failed. Extracting these lessons will increase your accomplishments even more as you apply them to your future goal setting experience


Do You Need to Redefine Your Goals?

Assess Your Progress: which goals have you made progress on? Which goals are you struggling with? Measure your progress by looking at the numbers. Keeping track of what you’re accomplishing, it will inform your progress, therefore help you achieve your goals.

Evaluate:  now that you know where you’re succeeding and where you’re struggling, think about why.  Planning ahead and anticipating obstacles will leave you less blindsided by unanticipated events, and help you meet your goals more consistently. They key is evaluating what works, and why, and how you can apply it to other areas of your life.  Evaluate when you succeed and when you fail, and try to create circumstances when you usually succeed.  Taking the time to evaluate your approaches to your individual goals and understand what works, will help you understand how you meet your goals, therefore help you meet all of them.

Adjust Your Timeline:  evaluating your goals incrementally, and adjusting your timeline accordingly (every quarter or bi-annually) is the most effective way to educate yourself about how you accomplish your goals, and to motivate you to to stay on track. By taking the time to assess your progress and your goals, you take what you learn from the first half of the year and apply it going forward. It can also make your goal less daunting.  A good assessment helps refine habits, which increases the odds of achieving your goals the second half of the year.

The benefits of evaluating your goals are:

  • You learn what worked and didn’t.
  • You identify the specific strategies and approaches that you should continue as well as those you should drop or change.
  • You can determine whether your expectations were too ambitious to achieve within the time you allotted; this could lead to both better focused efforts and more realistic objectives.
  • You have the information you need to become more effective over time.
  • You have information you can share with your partners that can strengthen your base of support or help you demonstrate that you need to make changes.


How Can You Achieve Goals by Setting Deadlines?

Deadlines are so effective because they make large projects or goals more manageable. Breaking up projects into a series of smaller tasks makes them easier to complete and prevents you from waiting until the last minute to finish your work.

Once you figure out which tasks you need to complete, organize them into steps. Assign deadlines to these steps to ensure everything is completed before the final due date. Next, you can schedule time on your calendar for each step and set time limits to keep yourself on track.

Tips for Setting Deadlines

  • Schedule each step on your calendar: this will prevent you from procrastinating and missing deadlines.
  • Write down your deadlines: writing down your goals and how to achieve them helps you analyze your thoughts and turn them into actions.
  • Figure out the right time limit: Parkinson’s Law states that work expands to fill the time available to complete it. In other words, if you give yourself an hour to do your homework, you’ll spend an hour on it, but if you give yourself 30 minutes, you can probably get it done faster. That’s why you should set a time limit that pushes you to be as efficient as possible—but don’t make the time limit so short that it’s impossible to reach.
  • Use a timer: you can use a kitchen timer or an app such as the Free Countdown Timer to keep track of time and prevent you from working too slowly.
  • Do the difficult parts first: getting the tougher tasks over with can spur your motivation and make the rest of the project go quickly.
  • Identify personal roadblocks: if you know you struggle with procrastination, perfectionism, or a lack of focus, decide which steps you’ll take to prevent the issue from getting in your way.
  • Anticipate mistakes or delays: if you miss a deadline, what will you do? Figure out a plan ahead of time for dealing with problems so you don’t get discouraged if something happens.
  • Determine your priorities. start by figuring out which steps are most important and seeing if there are any ways you can save time. If you run out of time, know which parts you can skip or do quickly.
  • Find support.: ask a parent, teacher, or your coach  for feedback or help when needed. Sharing your deadlines is important because it holds you accountable, making you less likely to miss or change deadlines.

Click here to if you’d like to use a worksheet helping you to set your deadlines.


How to Visualize Your Success?

When we repeatedly imagine performing a task, we may also condition our neural pathways so that the action feels familiar when we go to perform it; it’s as if we’re carving a groove in our nervous system. Finally, on a purely psychological level, envisioning success can enhance motivation and confidence.

Scientists believe that we may experience real-world and imaginary actions in similar ways, explains Aymeric Guillot, Ph.D., a professor at the Center of Research and Innovation in Sport at University Claude Bernard Lyon, in France. Whether we walk on a mountain trail or only picture it, we activate many of the same neural networks—paths of interconnected nerve cells that link what your body does to the brain impulses that control it.

The fact is if we can’t picture ourselves achieving a goal, chances are we won’t. Start thinking of your personal goals in life. Spend about 10 to 15 minutes visualize yourself succeeding, achieving every goal, completing every task. The more vivid you can get, the better it will work for you.

For more information listen to the interview with Dr. Erik Peper on “How to Visualize Effectively

For more information on how visualization can enhance your performance read how Jo Aita, age 46 and weighing 58 kg, set the Masters World Records and Masters Games Records in Snatch, Clean & Jerk and Total Olympic weight lifting at the World Masters Games in Auckland, New Zealand, April 26th; Using Biofeedback, Imagery and Cognitive Change during her training with Dr. Peper.

Do You Need to Prioritize Your Goals?

Once you have a list of your goals, you need to prioritize them in such a way that they can become focused and productive.  In doing so, you want to make sure your goals are:

1) aligned with your strengths;   2) you can achieve them with the limited time we all have;  3) your efforts are not scattered; 4) important enough to you to take many  risks.

Below are a set of questions to ask yourself to keep you focused and productive:

1. Which goal(s) do I think about the most?

2. Which goal(s) would give me the most energy, if I could commit to it now?

3. What accomplishments would make me feel the most proud of myself?

4. Which accomplishments can I take with me forever, and/or which accomplishments would seem the most permanent to me? Is this important to me?

5. In ten years from now, how important will the goal be to me?

6. Which goals are in line with my true values?

7. Which goals are fully within my control, and not too dependent on other people or circumstances?

8. Is this goal an external ‘should’ or an internal desire?

9. What do I have a sense of urgency to get on with right away?

10. If I could take action in spite of my fear, what might I want for myself right now?

11. Which goals give me a heavy or lethargic sensation when I think about them, and which goals give me a positive “rush” of endorphins when I think of them?

12. Which goals and their required efforts best fit into the “flow” or pace of my life? Which fit best within my current life context and/or circumstances?


How to Commit to Our Goals?

If you’ve been putting off anything in your life, ask yourself why. What are you waiting for? If you’ve been waiting for the stars to align in your favor, if you’ve been waiting for that perfect moment to arrive — It will never happen… There will always be a new problem standing in our ways. Something we need to do before we can fully commit ourselves to our goals.  Below is how you can commit yourself to your goals:

Success in any aspect of life starts with our mindset.  In order for us to make progress, we must make the decision at a core level to hold nothing back. We must take a good look at our lives and decide that nothing is going to stand in our way of success.

Before we do anything, we must  get ruthlessly clear about what our ultimate outcome looks like. We should nail down exactly what we want, how we are going to get there and on what sort of timeline we plan to reach our destination.

While having the right mindset and refining our goals are important, if we focus on unimportant activities we still aren’t going to get anywhere!  For some of us making enough money could be a priority, for some of us creating value and for others networking, etc

In order to stay committed, we need a way of holding ourselves accountable. Below are some ways that can help:

  • Use the Weekly Daily Goals system to keep track of your most important tasks. At the beginning of each week, write down your top goals for the next 7 days. Before you go to bed each night, write down 2-3 key tasks that, if accomplished, will leave you satisfied with your day.
  • Tell others what you are doing. At the very least, tell your family about the goals you’re trying to reach. Even if their reactions are less than supportive, getting your ambitions out in the open will help you stay committed.
  • Join a community. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are rooting for (and expecting) your success can be extremely powerful. It can provide you with the confidence and motivation you need to take your business to a whole new level.


Do You Know How to Set Specific Goals?

A success goal is a specific goal, a goal that incorporates an action plan outlining how you will achieve the goal and a performance measure that tells you whether you were successful or not. The formula below ensures that you’re setting specific goals:

“I will (goal + performance measure) BY (specific actions).”

The performance measure in the goal is often a date or a length of time, but it could be any objective criteria that you can use to determine whether or not you’ve accomplished the specific goal that you’ve set.

Examples of Specific Goals to Success

Depending on what the purpose of your goal setting exercise is, you might decide to set specific goals such as: To improve your work-life balance – “One month from now, I will spend entire weekends with my family BY reorganizing my work schedule and learning how to delegate.”

To get a small business loan to start your business – “I will develop enough confidence to present my business plan to the bank BY faithfully completing every assignment in the Business Success program.”

To actively promote your business – “I will implement some low-cost ways of promoting my business, including creating a social media plan.”

To improve your small business’s bottom line (and make more money) – “I will cut my business costs by 10% this quarter.”


Do You Know How to Set Achievable Goals?

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):

Career – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?
Education – Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.)
Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy yourself? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
Public Service – Do you want to make the world a better place? If so, how?

Spend some time brainstorming these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.

As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)


Do You Need Time Management Skills?

Time management is often presented as a set of skills.  Any person can certainly benefit from honing any or all of the skills.

Personal time management skills include:

  • goal setting
  • planning
  • prioritizing
  • decision-making
  • delegating
  • scheduling.

Many people find that time management tools, such as phone apps help them manage their time more effectively. For instance, a calendar app can make it easier to schedule and keep track of events and appointments.

Whether you use technological time management tools or plain old pen and paper, the first step in effective time management is analyzing how you currently spend your time and deciding what changes should be made.


Do You Procrastinate?

Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity. Wikipedia

The following are some time-management strategies that you may want to incorporate into your time-management routine.  Test them out to see what works and what doesn’t work for you.  It might be a good idea to start by monitoring and reflecting on how you currently use your time.

Basic Strategies:

  1. Prioritize: You probably have a lot of things to do, so assess how important and how urgent the tasks are; then make sure high priority tasks get done first and are not put off on a regular basis.  Avoid time wasters!
  2. Be specific: Make the task as specific as possible – we tend to follow through then, especially if we write it down.  For example, instead of telling yourself “I’ll write some blogs this week,” try “I’ll do 3 blogs on Self-Management this Sunday afternoon between 3-5pm.”
  3. Small bite-size pieces: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so try breaking tasks down into smaller sub-tasks.  Once you’ve started it’s easier to keep going.
  4. Use all available time: This is an especially good strategy if you are pressed for time.  You don’t necessarily need a block of time in order to study.  We often have time between meetings, travel time, etc.  There are lots of  tasks that can be accomplished in short periods, such as reviewing main points of a reading an article.
  5. Structure the environment: Find a place, preferably one you can use regularly and with limited distractions. Make sure you have all the essentials so you have no excuses.
  6. Establish a routine: We are creatures of habit.  If you always check and reply to emails at a certain time or day then it will be easier to get into concentration mode.  Also, it is better to do the tasks briefly and regularly
  7. Use the tools: take advantage of the time management and scheduling tools.