A goal is explicitly decided upon the desire to complete a task or achieve something within a predetermined time frame. Goals that are set for yourself can be regarding your professional life or personal and family life for the short term or long-term. Achieving goals involves defining a task you want to complete or skill you want to master, creating a plan to achieve the goal, and finally acting according to that plan. Well-set goals will help you grow in various areas of your life and lead a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Furthermore, goals would also allow you to live your life more efficiently as you would be able to get more things done within a given timeframe. Here, let’s see about the Goals to Set for Yourself.
Objectives of Setting Personal Goals
· Goals encourage you to achieve something or complete tasks within a specific period to attain progress in your life.
· Goals keep you focused on the tasks you have set for yourself. This would help you stay away from distractions such as watching television or browsing through social media for hours, which help you save valuable time which can be used to do useful things.
· Setting goals for yourself helps to organize your time well so that you would be able to complete tasks more efficiently.
· While setting goals for ourselves, we would be more open to trying to do things we have never done before. This helps us to expand our horizons.
· Setting goals and taking the necessary actions to achieve them would allow you to cultivate important values such as responsibility and determination which would be useful in all aspects of your life, including your career and relationships with family and friends.
· Setting goals would allow you to monitor your progress and identify any mistakes you make along the way, which would guide you in the right direction to achieving the things you want in life.
Importance Of Creating Achievable Goals
Achievable goals are important as they significantly increase the chances of you achieving your goals. Achievable goals are realistic goals that are carefully thought through, keeping in mind your capability and the amount of time at your disposal. Whereas normal goals might not be well thought through. Often, your capabilities and the amount of time available to achieve the goal are overestimated while setting unrealistic goals.
Setting unrealistic goals is the reason why many people give up on their goals halfway through the set timeframe because they become overwhelmed by the huge amount of work they must complete within the short duration of time that they have allocated for it during the planning stage. Furthermore, the planning stage of setting unrealistic goals is often done carelessly and there are no clear and easy to follow steps outlined. As such, there is no clear direction for them to follow. This is also another reason why people give up on unrealistic goals. This causes many people to lose self-confidence and motivation to pursue the goal again or set new goals. To avoid this negative spiral, it is vital to set realistic goals which keep your morale up while you are working towards achieving them.
The goal-setting theory is created by Edwin Locke, an industrial-organizational psychologist. His theory outlines the methods to use to set realistic and achievable goals. According to the theory, people are more encouraged to work towards attaining their goals if the goals they have set are challenging. He proposes that if people set less challenging goals, they are more likely to relax and put a lesser amount of effort into it, and hence they are less likely to attain that goal.
Goal Setting Process To Set Realistic Goals
There are seven key steps in setting attainable goals and achieving them. They are outlined below.
Step 1: Think carefully about what objective you want to achieve by completing the goal
To help you with this step, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you whole-heartedly want to attain this goal?
- Is this goal worth enough to invest the time you plan on allocating towards working for it?
If the goal is not worth enough to spend that much time on or if the goal isn’t as important to you as you have previously thought so, then you should cancel that goal and set a new goal for yourself that is worth pursuing.
Furthermore, using these questions, you should look through your list of goals carefully and organize them based on priority. Since you might be overwhelmed by trying to achieve all the goals you have at the same time, you should only focus and work on one goal or a few goals at a time. You should start working on goals that are more important and urgent first. You can move on to the other goals on your list only after completing the current goals you are pursuing. This would make it more manageable to achieve all your goals.
Step 2: Ensure that you set SMART goals
Once you have picked worthy goals to pursue, you must make sure that they meet the SMART framework which is outlined below.
- S: specific
It is important to set specific goals so that it is easy and clear for you to know if you have fully achieved your goal. Do not set goals with ambiguous results at the end. For example, setting a goal of eating healthily is an ambiguous goal. A specific goal would be listing out what types of food would constitute as healthy. For example, you can make a list of specific food items such as broccoli, bananas, and milk. This would make it easier to stick to the plan as you know exactly what you need to do and there is no room for doubt left in your plan. Additionally, you will not be tempted to deviate from your plan and eat other food items as you have clearly stated what food items you are allowed to eat. According to the goal-setting theory, setting specific goals will boost your chances of successfully attaining your goals.
- M: Measurable
All goals you set must be measurable. For example, simply setting a goal of running every day is a vague goal. You should make the goal measurable by stipulating a fixed duration of time you should run every day and other measurable parameters such as speed and distance you need to run.
- A: attainable
All goals you set must be attainable with the capabilities and resources you have. For example, setting a goal of losing ten kilograms of weight per month might not be an attainable goal for you if you have certain health conditions. As such, you need to tailor your goal such that it is achievable by you.
- R: realistic
It is important to set realistic goals to keep your motivation levels up. Setting a goal of climbing Mount Everest in a day is not a realistic goal if you are an amateur mountain climber, since even expert climbers take more time to climb it. Setting unrealistic goals would only make you feel less capable and make you give up on your goal altogether.
- T: time-bound
You must assign a specific deadline by which you must achieve your goals. If you just set a goal without stipulating a timeframe to it, you would not treat the goal as urgent. You would be prone to relaxing, giving in to distractions, or attending to matters which you deem are more important. As a result, you would keep pushing back your goal and there is a possibility that you might even forget the goal altogether. This is because, without a timeframe, a sense of urgency would not be invoked in you.
Step 3: Write down your goals and plans to achieve them
Writing down your goals and the plans you have made to work towards them, either physically using pen and paper or typing on a laptop, would help to make the goals seem more achievable and make you approach them with a more serious attitude. This is because the goals reside
While writing down the goals and plans, ensure that you use positive and encouraging words so that whenever you look at them, you would feel motivated to continue with the plans. Furthermore, keep the paper or the document on your laptop screen in an easily accessible and visible area so that you would look at it from time to time. This would help you remember your goals and keep you determined to act towards achieving them.
Step 4: Come up with an action plan
After successfully selecting a worthwhile goal and coming up with a rough plan, it is now time to create a detailed step-by-step plan.
This plan would break the work required to achieve your goal into small and manageable chunks. The action plan should include the end objective of your goal as well as all the steps required to be done.
Use a color system and mark tasks of different natures with different colors using stationary such as crayons, colored pens, colored pencils, and such. If you are typing down the action plan on your computer, then use different fonts and colors to make your plan more attractive for you to follow.
According to scientific research, it is proven that being creative with your plan and including colors in it would activate certain parts of your brain and help to etch the goals in your brain. This increases your success rate of achieving your goals.
If you want your plans to look more polished, you may wish to use online sites such as Lucidchart and Evernote. These sites have an array of readymade templates for you to use to craft your plans.
Step 5: Come up with a timeframe
Now that you created a detailed plan, you should assign a specific duration of time to each task in your plan. There are several online timeline makers to help you create a neat and organized timeframe. Different types of timeframes you can use include an interactive timeline, horizontal timeline, vertical timeline, event timeline, project timeline, and roadmap timeline. Pick a timeline that is suitable to the nature of your goal.
Step 6: Start acting according to your plan
After completing the detailed plan and timeframe, you can start acting by completing each task on your plan within the stipulated time. Remember all the hard work you have put into creating the detailed plan and timeframe. You must make your effort worth it by sticking to your plan meticulously and not slack off.
Step 7: Monitor your progress and adjust your plans accordingly
You should monitor your progress in achieving your goal at regular intervals such as every week or every month. If you have underperformed, adjust your plan and timeframe by adjusting the number of tasks, modifying tasks, and shifting tasks around different time slots. This would help you to finish tasks more systematically and realistically. If you have managed to complete more tasks than expected, then you can start doing the next tasks and be able to finish your goal earlier if you want.
Monitoring your progress from time to time will allow you to see the work you have completed, and the work left to do. This would encourage you to complete the remaining work and successfully achieve your goal. Furthermore, if any unexpected situations arise or if you can anticipate any situations that can hinder your plan in the foreseeable future, you should ensure that you should make changes to your plan so that it is up to date.
Examples Of SMART goals
- I will obtain a job as a software engineer within six months after graduating with my master’s degree in computer science.
- Specific: The goal of getting a job as a software engineer is clearly defined.
- Measurable: The goal is measurable because the number of job applications can be counted.
- Attainable: This goal is attainable because the person has the required educational qualifications to achieve it.
- Realistic: The person would technically be able to get a job in the software industry since he is obtaining a degree in that field.
- Time-bound: The person has stipulated a clear timeframe to achieve the goal within six months after he or she graduates.
- I will lose nine kilograms of weight in three months by following a low-carb diet plan which is recommended to me by my doctor.
- Specific: The person has set a well-defined goal to lose nine kilograms of weight.
- Measurable: The goal can be measured by the types of food the person eats and the number of kilograms of weight the person loses.
- Attainable: The goal is achievable as the person is in a suitable health condition to follow a low-carb diet plan.
- Realistic: The goal is realistic because the person will be able to lose nine kilograms of weight upon following the low-carb diet for three months.
- Time-bound: The person has stipulated a clear timeframe of three months to follow a low-carb diet and lose nine kilograms of weight in the process.
Examples of goals you can set for self-improvement and development
- The goal of learning a new skill:
You can set a goal to learn a new skill that can be useful in your professional life or is useful for your personal development. For example, you can choose to learn computer skills and communication skills to increase your professional capability. Alternatively, you can learn skills such as swimming which is a useful life skill.
- The goal of reading a certain number of books every month:
Reading self-help books can help you to gain useful knowledge which would allow you to thrive in your professional as well as your personal life. You can choose to read any number of books per month based on your schedule.
- The goal of maintaining a gratitude journal:
In the hustle-bustle of the 21st-century lifestyle, it is very easy to forget appreciating the good things you have in life and instead focusing on the negative aspects of life. As such, setting a goal of regularly maintaining a gratitude journal would encourage you to pause in your busy schedule to reflect on the things you have which you are grateful for. This would allow you to live your life in a more meaningful manner. You can choose to set a goal of updating your journal daily, weekly, or even monthly.
- The goal of Eating healthy meals for a certain duration:
Eating healthily is crucial for you to be physically healthy. As such, this is a wise goal to set for yourself. You can fix a list of food items you are allowed to eat for a fixed timeframe based on your health condition. Alternatively, you can also choose to follow popular pre-existing diet plans such as the low carb diet, Paleo diet, DASH diet, and the Mediterranean diet.
- The goal of exercising regularly:
Exercising regularly would keep you in good physical shape. You can choose any form of exercise you prefer such as jogging, running, aerobics and swimming. Alternatively, if you feel that you are more motivated to exercise when others are exercising together with you, you can join an exercise group or join team sports such as badminton, football, and volleyball.
- The goal of traveling to new places or countries:
Travel broadens your horizon, and it would allow you to learn about yourself and help you become more independent. As such, it is a worthy goal to set for yourself. Set some places to visit per year based on your financial budget and the amount of free time at your disposal.
- The goal of meditating regularly:
Meditating can give you peace of mind and help you to relieve stress from work and personal problems. Ideally, you should try to set a goal of meditating daily. If that is not possible, try to meditate every week.
- The goal of maintaining a proper sleep schedule:
Maintaining a regular sleep schedule would help you to be more physically and mentally healthy. Assign a fixed time to sleep and wake up and stick to it.
- The goal of maintaining a hobby:
A hobby boosts the creative side in you and allows you to live a happier life. As such you should pick any hobby you like such as painting, singing, ice skating, playing the piano and such.
- The goal of spending a fixed amount of time with family every week:
Family is one of the most important things we have in our lives. As such, you need to allocate time to interact with your family and bond with them. Pick times when both you and your family are free and plan to do activities together.
- The goal of maintaining a diary:
Maintaining a diary is a healthy medium for you to reflect on the things that have occurred in your life. This would aid you in formulating a wise course of action for your future. As such it is a good goal to set to become a better person. You can choose to write a diary entry daily, weekly, or even monthly based on your schedule.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between a goal and wanting to do something?
Goals are conscious decisions, and they are more focused and specific than ordinary and random thoughts of doing something. Moreover, a goal has a specific purpose whereas just wanting to do something is often aimless. For instance, just swimming randomly has no purpose whereas swimming in preparation for a swimming competition is a goal that has a specific purpose. A goal requires planning for the future, and it requires qualities such as responsibility and determination to achieve. Whereas, just doing something sporadically does not require much planning and it does not require much motivation as it is a one-time activity.
How many goals should I set for myself?
It is generally recommended by psychologists to set three to five goals in a year. However, there is no fixed rule to this. You can choose to come up with as many goals as you can realistically manage with your current lifestyle without being overwhelmed.