If you want to achieve your goals, you need to know what they are and you need to choose goals wisely.
There is a popular acronym that is often used in creating goals – SMART goals. Depending on the ‘reading’ that you have, you may think about the A as either Actionable or Achievable. We need to be careful when working with models as we may start to introduce factors that may inhibit. For example, by using the term Actionable – we introduce a question – is this really an actionable goal, is it really an achievable goal? and with it comes some doubt. This can be a worthwhile risk management strategy, but can also sometimes introduce the question – are you really sure?
Putting this model aside, or embracing it is a personal judgement to which I would canvas challenge.
So what could drop into a personal chosen goal?
Did you know that in a recent ClickUp case study, 51% of American workers feel as though they lose at least an hour/day being inefficient at work from things as simple as email overload, or feeling disconnected from the team. Although on face value this looks like a professional goal, the mindest surrounding overload rests with individual.
But knowing what your personal goals are isn’t enough. You also need to know what you want them to be—and that requires some careful thought and analysis. Whilst we are talking predominantly about personal goals, some of this thinking is transferable to your professional goals. Here’s how to do it:
Choose goals in your focus areas.
Next, it’s time to focus on what you’re going to achieve. If you haven’t already, list your goals in the same notebook where you wrote down your vision. Then look over your list and choose which ones are most important to work on now.
- Which of these will excite me and help me feel fulfilled? These are the ones that should be at the top of my priority list right now.
- Which align with my values and make me feel good inside? These should also be at the top of my priority list right now—and they may even become lifelong commitments if they resonate strongly with who I want to be as a person, not just what I want in life (e.g., “I value kindness” or “I’m committed to being kind”).
- Are all of these attainable within a reasonable period of time? Because if not, making progress toward any goal that feels impossible will only lead us further away from success by demotivating us from trying harder than we need to in order for things go right! Instead of putting energy into an unrealistic goal that makes us feel bad about ourselves when we fail at achieving it (and I think most people have experienced this feeling before), let’s focus on setting goals that challenge but don’t overwhelm us.”
Decide how long you’re going to work on this goal.
You want to choose a time period long enough that you can make a difference, but short enough that you’ll stay motivated. For example, if your goal is to grow your business by 20% in one year, it’s better to set a six-month target rather than a year because it’s easier to see progress and celebrate wins within shorter periods of time. To help keep yourself on track as you work toward your goal, set short-term goals along the way so that every step of the process feels important.
The other thing about choosing the right amount of time: It should be long enough for you to see true results from all your hard work (and short enough so it doesn’t feel like forever).
An ambitious goal is great.
Break it down into specific actions.
Now that you’ve got your chosen goal, the next step is to break it down into specific actions.
First of all, let’s take a look at how this might work for a goal like “I want to lose weight.” That seems like a pretty good one! How can we break that down?
Well… what does losing weight entail? If you think about it long enough, there are really only two things involved: eating less food and exercising more often. So we could say something like “I will eat fewer than 2200 calories per day and I will exercise three times per week on non-consecutive days.”
That sounds like a doable plan! Now let’s look at another goal: “I want my business to make $50K in profit before 2020.” How could we break that down into specific actions? Well… there are lots of different ways – but maybe something like this would work well: “In January 2020 I will spend 30 minutes every morning writing out my quarterly goals for my business so that I know exactly what I need to achieve each month.”
Get support from other people.
Once you’ve figured out the most important goals for your life, it’s time to start working on them. It can be hard to figure out how exactly to start, however.
To make things easier, try getting support from other people. This could mean friends or family members who are also working towards their own goals. Or, if you don’t have anyone to turn to in person, there are still plenty of ways to get help online:
- Use social media! Your friends may not be able to offer much direct advice about specific aspects of a goal (like what kind of resume you should use), but they can tell you when they think something is funny or uplifting—and this will make all the difference when it comes down to motivation and mental health throughout the process.
- Join an online group dedicated specifically toward helping people with similar interests achieve their dreams! Many popular websites host these forums as well as message boards where users can post questions about any topic imaginable (from career planning advice all the way down through “How do I deal my cat won’t stop being such a jerk?”). Just remember: always be careful who sees whatever posts end up making their way onto public platforms like Facebook or Twitter; consider using private accounts only when possible!
You can choose goals that excite you and give you energy when you work on them.
As a result, you’re more likely to achieve your goals and feel successful in the long run. Further, if you have a goal that excites and energizes you, it’s much more likely that it will be sustainable.
You can also choose goals that are rewarding for you. The reward doesn’t necessarily need to be something outside of yourself—the reward might come from within or could be intangible (e.g., feeling proud of yourself). When a goal is rewarding, it makes working toward it more motivating because there’s something good waiting at the end!
Choose goals that create an increase in personal wealth (think financial, intellectual, community, spiritual etc)
In order to create a life of personal wealth, it is essential to choose goals that will allow you to grow in areas other than just financial. The following are some examples:
- Your health and fitness (this includes your mental health)
- Your relationships with family, friends and community members
- Your knowledge base – both formal education and life experience
- The way you spend your time on earth – do you engage in meaningful activities or just exist?
You can measure these things so that when you have achieved them, there is no doubt about the value they have brought into your life. Once again this list is by no means exhaustive – if it were then we would all be billionaires! But hopefully it gives an indication of how important these areas are when considering our goals for living a happy and fulfilled life.
The bottom line is this: if you do want to achieve something, you need to be clear about what it is and how you’ll get there. If a goal is vague and hard to measure, then it’s not a good one.
Take the time to work out what exactly your goal means, so that you can identify steps towards achieving it. Then, break down those steps into smaller chunks so that they’re more achievable in the short term – and feel great when you finish! Finally, don’t forget about all the things that will support your progress along the way – whether that’s friends or family with similar interests who can help keep each other accountable for their goals (see our previous blog post on accountability here).
Happy planning! 🙂