Have you set any goals recently—professional, personal, financial, or anything else that you want to accomplish? Lately, I’ve been thinking that it’s been some time since I set any life goals besides the typical New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more.
With the usual hectic pace of our lives, sometimes we get so engrossed in the day-to-day that we don’t take the time to think about what we’d really like to accomplish in the long run. We focus on planning for tomorrow instead of planning for next year.
There are a million experts with a million different methods of goal setting—but here are two that have been proven to be highly effective.
- Visualization: This strategy focuses on creating a tangible, visual object to remind you of your goal. The idea is that if you can visualize the details of your goal as if you’ve already accomplished it, you will be more likely reach that specific goal. Visualization can involve creating a vision board that you see often to remind you of what you are working toward, or even just a list of goals hung prominently in your home or office.
- SMART Goals: Developed by George T. Doran in 1981, each letter in the SMART acronym stands for a goal-setting criterion: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (or Realistic), and Time-Bound. Using the SMART methodology forces you to be thoughtful and methodical about goal-setting. Check out this template by the University of San Diego to kickstart your SMART goals.
If you aren’t for structured systems of goal setting, there are general tips you can employ in your own system.
- Goals should be specific: For instance, instead of just “make more money” or “read more books,” make sure your goals are discrete and clearly defined. “Read 12 books in 2019” is much more specific and makes it easier to develop a strategy for achieving it—if you read one book per month, you’ll have hit your goal by the end of the year.
- Goals should be inspirational and intentional: Most people are driven to create positive change, better themselves, and help others. Having a larger purpose provides context and meaning for the goals we set. Ask why you want to achieve your goals and what you hope to gain from completing them. Determining your motives will help you keep working until you accomplish your goal—even when the going gets tough or progress is slow.
- Goals should be attainable: If you have a huge amazing goal (aka “a Big Hairy Audacious Goal” or BHAG), come up with smaller attainable goals that work toward the ultimate goal. Begin with the end, and work backwards. You’ll be more likely to put effort into achieving something that excites you as you rack up small successes along the way.
- Goals should align with your values: People may argue that setting goals doesn’t work or that doing so can be motivated by bad intentions. For example, there have been cases of employees resorting to unethical behavior or cheating to attain organizational goals. If your goals don’t align with your values, you’ll may find yourself at cross-purposes, conflicted, and demotivated. Before you set a goal, think about what values are important to you—the things you will not compromise on, such as honesty, integrity, and kindness.
I’m determined to take the time to think about what I want to attain in different areas of my life and set some goals that I’ll be excited about working toward. I believe that if I have a clearly defined goal, I’ll find a path to obtain my objectives—and if I identify compelling reasons for the goals I want to achieve, I’ll be more likely to reach them. I hope this inspires you to also take time to think about what you really want to achieve in your life. Maybe writing down your goals or visualizing them coming to fruition will help you achieve them too.
So what are your goals?