As a new year quickly approaches, it is important to live intentionally and make the most of it. One way to do that is by setting goals. Goals give clear direction and help to focus on achieving the things that are most important to you in your life. People that do not set goals for themselves are like leaves that move in whatever direction the wind blows. The saying that comes to mind is from the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland: “If you don’t know where you are going then any road will get you there.”
Many people create goals for themselves and within a few months, they have given up on or forgotten about their goal. An example is when people make a New Years Resolution “to get healthier” or “lose weight.” On the surface, these are good goals. These goals are something that will help the person and should be a priority, but if the person is not committed to a quantifiable goal that has a plan of action, it is an exercise in futility.
Here are seven steps for effective goal setting:
- Pinpoint what is most important in your life. Goals must have a benefit for you in order to stay committed to them. Take time to examine your life and determine the areas that are most important for you to become the type of person you want to be.
- Set a goal and write it down. Once you have examined your life, set goals in the most important areas that you want to grow or enhance. Is it becoming more involved in a charity or getting a business off the ground? It may be something totally different and that is OK as long as it has meaning and importance to you. The key is to set a goal in an area of importance to you and write it down in clear and concise words. It should be quantifiable, for example: taking a position as a volunteer in a charity that requires you to commit to working 1 day a week or acquiring 8 customers for your new business within 3 months.
- Identify obstacles. Any goal is going to have obstacles, or it would not really be something worth working towards. Identify the challenges that may come up or stand in the way of you accomplishing your goal.
- Make a plan. Now that you have a clear goal in mind, create a plan to give you a step-by-step map to accomplishing your goal. Keep the obstacles you identified in mind so that you can incorporate steps to overcome those obstacles if they occur.
- Set a timeline. Goals should have a timeline with a start and stop date. Setting a stop date will help you to stay motivated in accomplishing the goal. This helps to ensure that they are given importance and priority in your vision of what you want to accomplish.
- Commit and block time. With your goal in place and plan to achieve it – ACT! It is imperative that you take action if you want to achieve your goals. Make sure you are consistently working toward your goal. This may be only 15 minutes a day once a week. Whatever it is, make sure you block the time on your calendar and treat it as an important event that you will not miss.
- Get an accountability partner. Just like every professional athlete has a coach, most successful people have coaches or someone that holds them accountable to the goals they set. Think about who you have in your life that you could trust to hold you accountable to your goals. This should be someone that will check in with you at least once a week to see how your goal is coming, and if you did not follow through on your commitment ask you why. This should be someone that can hold a mirror in front of your face and remind you that you made this goal to help you become the person you want to be.