There is nothing more rewarding than finally achieving something that you have set out to accomplish. In early 2017, I set a personal goal to do a TED talk someday. I drew a picture of the logo on my vision board, wrote an affirmation in my Success Planner, and I started watching TED talks every single morning while getting ready for work. I read several books on how to improve my presentation skills, and even read one called “Talk like Ted” in an effort to become a better public speaker. I took these steps so that when the time came, I would be ready. Fast forward to October 25, 2018 and as I stood on the TEDx stage, I realized that I was about to accomplish my goal. It was a very surreal moment for me. And now, looking back at my journey, I realize that it was my deliberate actions that led me to my accomplishment. Goal setting can be a very powerful thing.
Why set goals?
According to Mindtools.com “Top-level athletes, successful business people and achievers in all fields all set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the most of your life”.
For me personally, I set goals because I always want to continue to learn, to improve my skills, and to push myself to do bigger and better things in both my work and my personal life. I’ve learned that just thinking about doing something, is much different than setting a goal to actually DO something, and then deliberately taking action to complete that goal.
Many people desire to achieve certain things in their lives. From completing their education, to paying off debt, or traveling the world…people dream of the different things that they want to accomplish. However; the difference between goals and dreams is that a dream can be just a thought, a hopeful wish, a “maybe someday” kind of vibe, whereas a goal is a plan of action, a specific process of how you will make that dream come to fruition. A dream is the destination, while a goal is part of the journey you take to get there.
There are several different types of goals. And the type you set can vary based on what you would like to accomplish. Here are some examples;
Short-term goals: A short-term goal is something you would like to do in the near future, such as cleaning out your closet or learning how to make a new recipe.
Long-term goals: A long-term goal is something that may take you a long time to accomplish such as, paying off your student loans or training for a triathlon.
Focus goals: A focus goal is a very big goal that can take up a lot of your time, energy and focus such as starting a blog or writing a book.
Topic based goals: Topic based goals can be personal or professional and focus on a specific topic, such as improving your public speaking skills or learning a new language
While the type of goal you set depends on what you would like to achieve and when, HOW you go about trying to achieve your goal can be greatly influenced by the steps you take in order to achieve it. According to Locke and Latham’s Goal Setting Theory, there are 5 key steps to follow:
- Clarity- the goal you set needs to be very clear. What exactly do you want to achieve and why Creating your goal as a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goal can help you to avoid creating goals that are too vague or unrealistic.
- Challenge- Set a goal that is challenging enough to spark your interest and keep you motivated
- Commitment- You must commit to the steps needed to achieve your goal. This involves self-discipline which will help you to stay focused and on track.
- Feedback- Scheduling time to analyze your progress and accomplishments can help you to assess what is working and what you need to adjust
- Complexity- Be aware of how complex your goal is and gauge the amount of time, energy and pressure you put on yourself. If goals are too complex, they may need to be broken down into smaller sub-goals.
Many times people have great intentions and get all gung ho about their goals, only to find themselves disappointed when their goals remain unmet. Here are some common reasons why goals go in the gutter:
- Lack of clarity/ direction- when you are unsure of what exactly you want to accomplish, it is difficult to know how to accomplish it. Having a clear and realistic idea of exactly what you want will help you to focus on what exactly what you have to do to get there.
- No set plan- if you do not create a plan as to how you will go about meeting your goal, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Making a concrete plan of the steps needed will help you stay on track.
- Fear of failure- a fear of failure can stop you from even trying to accomplish your goal. Being open to taking risks can be scary, but can be well worth it in the end.
- Too many goals- having too many goals creates a lack of focus and can make it difficult for anything to get done at all. Prioritizing your goals or breaking large goals down into smaller goals can result in getting things down more efficiently and effectively.
- Unrealistic or unachievable goals- setting unrealistic goals will only lead to disappointment and frustration when you realize that the goal is unattainable. Set yourself up for success by choosing goals that are within your reach.
- Negative attitude- If you think that you will not meet your goal, then that will be the outcome you achieve. Your mind is very powerful and can influence what energy you bring to the table. Having a positive attitude and genuinely believing that it is possible for you to achieve your goal will greatly enhance your chances of success. So now that you know how to go about setting your goals, here are some tips that have helped me achieve mine.
My Gold Star Goal-Setting Tips
- Set goals that you actually want to achieve and not what you THINK you should want or what someone else thinks you should want. This is very important to consider. It is much more meaningful when you achieve something that you wholeheartedly wished to achieve for YOURSELF!
- Write your goals down on paper, on your computer or phone. ANYWHERE! Writing goals down can help you to set your intention and propel you to commit and get focused.
- Make your goal into a SMART goal Making your goal a SMART one will help you immensely. If you are unfamiliar with this method, I suggest googling examples of SMART goals to get some ideas.
- Figure out when you will be able to work on your goal and plan to work on it during that time Life is busy, there is NEVER enough time. If you wait until you “have time”, you will be much less likely to complete your goal. Maybe you will have to get up a bit earlier or make some other changes to your daily routine.
- Tell someone about your goal- It can be super helpful to tell someone about your goal so that they can help to motivate and support you and also keep you accountable.
- Just start Often getting started is the hardest part. Make a plan and just get started and you will be happy you did.
- Use Visualizations and affirmations- Visualizations and affirmations are extremely powerful. Envision yourself completing your goal and affirm it as often as possible. It’s almost scary how well this works.
- Give yourself a reward for completion- As humans, we are highly motivated by rewards. Giving yourself small rewards as you complete each step can help with motivation and stick-to-it-ness.
Everybody is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. There are many great resources on goal setting that can help you figure out what will work best for you. Here are some that come highly recommended:
-Goals: How to get everything you want faster than you ever thought possible
by Brian Tracy
-Eat that Frog: 21 great ways to stop procrastinating and get more done in less time
by Brian Tracy
-Awaken the Giant Within: How to take control of your mental, emotional, physical and financial destiny
by Tony Robbins
-The Achievement Habit: Stop wishing, start doing and take control of your life
by Bernard Roth
-Better than Before: What I learned about making and breaking habits to sleep more, quit sugar, procrastinate less and generally build a happier life
by Gretchen Rubin
Strides- One of the most powerful and easy to use apps out there. You can set up reminders so that you never forget to maintain those daily habits that lead to bigger goal achievement. Simply pick a goal (or use a suggested one given by the app), set a target by inputting a goal value or a certain date and then specify the action you need to do to turn it into a habit. The Strides app lets you track it all by day, week, month, year or even on a rolling average. All of your data is synced to your account so you always see your latest stats whether you access it from the web, a mobile device, or anywhere else. Available on iOS.
Way of life- If you absolutely love to look at charts and graphs of your progress, then you’ll love Way of Life. Just pick a goal action, tell the app whether the action is good or bad for you (like eating healthy = good whereas smoking = bad) and then you’ll get a daily reminder to input what you did or didn’t do in terms of your goals. Over time, you’ll have enough data to show you chains, bar charts with trend lines, pie charts and all sorts of other nifty details. Available on iOS and Android.
Goals on Track- a web-based and mobile app that helps users develop and stick to goals based on the SMART goal setting trend (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely). The app helps you break up big goals into smaller chunks so they’re not as overwhelming, offering unique animations and offline tracking so you can track how long you spend on tasks. There’s also a built-in journaling feature that gives you the opportunity to get specific by writing in detail about your goals and progress. Membership is not free, and you’ll need to sign up on the web before launching the app. Available on iOS
Coach.me- coach.me claims to be the leading habit tracking app, even offering personalized habit coaching and leadership coaching as part of its services in addition to its free mobile app. The user interface is slick and beautiful to use. Simply select a goal, track your progress, earn rewards for sticking with it and take advantage of the community aspect by getting involved and asking questions. If you really end up loving it, you can upgrade to hiring a real coach for as little as $15. Available on iOS and Android.
2019 Success Planner by Karlyn Percil – a personal fave of mine. I have used this planner for 2 years now and it has helped me to manifest so many positive changes in my life, including setting and achieving BIG goals. I can say enough about how much I love this planner. Check it out at https://karlynpercil.com
Now is your time to shine
One of my all-time favourite quotes is “it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. This quote by J.K Rowling signifies that every single one of us has the ABILITY to achieve our goals, but it is the CHOICES we make, such as the choice to remain focused, the choice to persevere, the choice to be resilient- it is these choices that will ultimately help us to succeed.
So what goals are YOU trying to achieve in 2019? Maybe you want to go back to school, get in shape, de-clutter your home or save for that dream vacation. Whatever your goals are, find some time to sit down and plan out the steps you need to take in order to achieve them. The sooner you get started, the closer you will be to meeting your goals and living out your dreams. As Zig Ziglar states “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”. So get started, Goal Getter. You got this!