What is Goal Setting?
What is Goal Setting you may be asking yourself? Well, in fact you’re probably not asking yourself what goal setting is because, unless you have only recently arrived on planet earth then it is highly likely that you have heard of goal setting, practised goal setting in the past, or are currently doing something related to goals you have already set.
The reason Goal Setting is so important is that if you set a goal, and map out what you need to do to achieve it, you are far more likely to recognise the things that will take you in the direction of your goal. If you do not map out what is required to achieve your desires then it is unlikely you will ever achieve your dreams and desires. To put it simply, if you don’t know what you want in life then you will never achieve it. If you know what you want then you will find a way to work towards the achievement of that goal. That is why it is important to map it out.
How can I benefit from Goal Setting?
Many people have a basic idea of what they want to achieve in life. People may want to earn more money, go to a specific place for a holiday, meet that special ‘someone’ or buy their own home. Some people achieve what they want from life, and some don’t. The differences between the two groups of people usually boils down to the first group of people having as specific plan to get what they want whilst the second group of people drift through life ‘hoping for this or that’ and not actually laying down a plan, a course of action, to get what they want. Achieving your goals is a tremendous boost to your Self Esteem.
The best way to get what you want in life is to lay down a course of action, broken down step by step, to get what you want. Having a general idea of what you want is not usually enough to see it materialise for you. You need map out what is required to get to your desired result.
How Do I Set Goals?
There are lots of methods for Goal Setting but they all begin with actually writing your goals down on a piece of paper. The best method I have found is a 6 Point Method that breaks the process of goal setting down so that both you Conscious and Subconcious mind can work on the goals attainment. Many other systems utilise up to a dozen different criteria for setting and measuring a goal, but this 6 Point Method combines simplicity with structure in the correct ratio’s. We will use wanting to lose weight as an example to work through.
With all Goal Setting you should be able to identify the following factors. Goals should be:
- Specific – you must be able to identify it through specific attributes that you can define to yourself. Yes No criteria are good for defining goal, ie. a desired target weight or set level of fitness. If it is ‘intangible’ or you have trouble visualising how you will reach it then it is best to redefine your goal until it is tangible. For example, saying you want to ‘lose weight’ is good, but how much weight do you want to lose? How fit do you want to be? You need to define how much weight you would like to lose for it to qualify as a specific goal. The best way to frame this would be for achieving a specifc target weight, rather than ‘loosing 2 pounds’ off the waistline. See the article on the Law of Attraction, Positive Thinking and Gratitude for the reasoning behind this.
- Beneficial – You must know the benefit and be able to identify how you will benifit from what you are wanting to achieve. This is important as it identifies what you stand to gain from completing a specific goal. What are the benefits to you of losing 2 or 3 pounds off your waist line? Why do you want to do this. This is your Motivation to adhere to achieving your goal. Without this motivation you are less likely to seriously apply yourself to its accomplishment. The benefits you ascribe to achieving a goal need to outweight the obsticals you may face whilst work towards you goal. Identify each specific benefit from achieving your goal.
- Attainable – it must be attainable, it may be far fetched but you must be able to conceive it and believe it. It is one thing to want to lose weight, and quite another to want to lose 2 pounds, but if you say things like ‘I want to lose 30% of my body weight by Christmas’ then you may be a little disappointed when Christmas comes around. Goals need to be realistic; ambitious but realistic. It is more important to set a goal that you know you can accomplish ‘with a bit of effort if you apply your self and achieve it, than to set a goal that you do not think you can accomplish at all and fail. It is easier to build on your successes than it is to try and pick yourself up from a series of failures and shoot for the moon.
- Have a Timetable – a Deadline - you must be able to set a deadline to it, even if you say ‘several years’ you must still set yourself a deadline to adhere to. It is no good saying ‘I want to loose some weight soon’. You need to say ‘I want to lose 2 pounds by December 25th’. Without putting a deadline to it you will find yourself ‘moving the goal posts’ when it begins to feel like ‘a bit too much effort’ or temptation shows up. Also, the subconscious mind has a habit of getting involved when the ‘going gets tough’ and persistence always pays off. It is not uncommon for the ‘planets to align’ towards the end of you deadline and you find the focus to suddenly achieve your objective.
- Break Down into Small Easy Steps – It is important that you believe you can achieve your goal. You need to have faith in you ability to accomplish what you set out to, both consciously and subconsciously. Things are much easier to focus on and believe when you break it down into small easier steps. If your goal of losing 2 pounds in the next 30 days seems unobtainable to you then you need to break it down into how much weight you would like to lose each week. You will find it much easier to maintain a diet and exercise routine if you have small goals to work towards instead of visualising one single step to your target weight. The conscious and subconscious minds will find it much easier to accept small reasonable steps towards your target weight than one single change that isn’t consistent with your current circumstances.
- Actionable – You need to actually take action according to the steps you laid out for the attainment of your goal. This is often the most difficult part for people to adhere to. Take specific action, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, towards the accomplishment of your goal. For example, to loose the two pounds from around your waist by the 25th of December, you will need to do exercise every day. It might not be a lot of exercise but some is better than none, and a lot is better than some. Do what ever exercise you can possibly fit in and build on those small accomplishments to focus on the next activity required to work towards your goal. Be positive about every little success you make. If you encounter a situation that doesn’t contribute towards your progress, it is important to frame it in the context ‘something to improve upon’ rather than focus on the negative aspects of the experience. Again, see the article on Positive Thinking as well as Self Esteem.
- Results Oriented – you must be able to measure your results against the criteria you defined when you started. If you break you goal down into small steps then it is much easier to measure your progress in each little area as you progress along, and make changes if required. Not all of you activity will produce the same results; some more and some less. By measuring your activity and actions along the way you are able to make adjustments to you activities to optimise your efforts. You may find that by fine tuning your activity along the way the your desired target weight was actually rather conservative and based on you perception of what you could achieve rather than what you really could achieve once you focused your efforts on it. By reviewing your progress and how you apply yourself to your objectives, you may find that you can exceed your initial expectations.