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Last Updated on May 5, 2021

Goal Setting Techniques to Master for Success in Life

Goal Setting Techniques to Master for Success in Life

Many people believe that intelligence is the determining factor for success. However, studies prove that your IQ has very little to do with it. Researchers conducted a 30-year study [1] on 1000 children and found that cognitive control is a more reliable predictor of success than IQ. This means that the ability to delay gratification and to remain goal oriented through goal setting techniques was the ultimate key to their success.

So, successful people aren’t smarter; they’re more adept at setting and achieving their goals. You too can learn effective goal setting with a little guidance.

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Below are four simple steps for setting realistic goals:

1. Set Long-Term Goals First

Creating a long wish list of things you would love to do is easy. We write down things like:

  • Visit Europe
  • Learn to scuba dive
  • Find a new job

It is human nature to dream big and set unrealistic goals we’ll probably never achieve. As long as we’ve jotted a list of possibilities, we feel accomplished.

However, wishes are not goals, and personal goals without action plans are merely dreams. When we go with the flow and set our sights on nothing in particular, that’s exactly what we’ll achieve: nothing. Successful people start by setting long-term goals (at least five years out) first. Their goals are lofty, but they begin systematically moving toward them step-by-step.

Setting long-term, challenging goals forces you to look down the road and plan for the future with specific goal setting techniques. Chasing goals keeps us motivated, especially in the face of the mundane, tedious, but necessary everyday tasks.

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Long-term goals are concrete, and dreams are wispy abstracts. There is a notable difference between saying: “Someday I will be an authority in brain research and possibly find a cure for a dreaded disease” and “By 2020 I will have my Master’s Degree in Neurologic Surgery from Johns Hopkins University and will find a job in brain research.

The first statement is a dream that has no firm basis in reality. The second statement is a long-term goal derived from the dream of becoming a brain-research expert, but it also includes a clear and tangible path on how to get there.

2. Break Large Goals Into Smaller Ones

While long-term goals provide us with focus and direction, short-term goals give us momentum.

After setting long-term goals, setting smaller, short-term goals is critical because they provide you with quick wins and allow you to experience many “little successes” on your way to the big success.

Let’s pretend that your long-term goal is to run a chain of bed and breakfasts (B&B’s) on a beach somewhere.

First, with your goal setting techniques, you need to break it down into a slightly smaller goal, like opening your first B&B in a specific location or area within five years.

Then, break it down further from there. You could start by working at a local B&B and shadowing the owner for six months in order to learn the business. This is followed by other small steps that build upon one another and ultimately end in you opening your first B&B in Ocala, FL within the five-year period.

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If you don’t break down the large goal and make a plan, you can quickly become overwhelmed and discouraged. The dream will remain just a dream—unrealized.

3. Set SMART Goals

When setting goals (long or short), use the SMART framework[2]. This means that goals should be:

Specific

You goal should be clearly stated in specific terms. This allows you to better plan and prioritize your time and resources. It also helps you remain focused and driven.

For example, the goal “I want to be famous” is not specific. A specific goal would be “I want to be a well-known YouTuber.” By identifying the platform, you now have direction. You can start by learning the videography skills you will need, such as video editing, which will help keep you focused and moving toward your goal.

Measurable

Goal setting techniques won’t do much good if you can’t quantify your goal. Use numbers instead of empty or meaningless adjectives.  For example, if you want to be a well-known YouTuber, setting a goal of gaining one million subscribers is measurable versus saying “a lot” of subscribers.

This enables you to see your progress at any time and gauge where you are in the process. You will know when you need to adapt your processes and better determine which ones are actually working. Having a concrete reminder of how far you’ve come pushes you to keep moving forward.

Attainable (Achievable)

The objective of setting a goal is to make a plan, work, and actually achieve that goal. You can’t do this if your goal is impossible to accomplish. An attainable or achievable goal should be realistic and should match your abilities and resources. If it involves a myriad of things that are out of your control, then it may not be achievable for you.

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Let’s revisit our goal of being a well-known You Tuber with one million subbies. Let’s say you’ve never made a video—recorded, edited, or produced one. The first step in your process is determining whether you have the time, energy, and resources to acquire the necessary skills to create exceptional content. If this seems unrealistic to you, then your goal may not be achievable.

Relevant

A relevant goal matters to you and is reasonable, making it easier to apply goal setting techniques. It should reside in the realm of reality and should complement other aspects of your life. If you have to make tremendous amounts of continuous sacrifices, you may need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” You should strive to have a balanced effort-reward ratio.

If gaining one million subscribers on YouTube requires you to spend 10 hours every day editing videos, you are probably going to have problems paying bills, maintaining relationships, and getting enough sleep. If the sacrifices are unrealistic and the cost is too steep, then your goal is not reasonable.

Time-Bound

A time-bound goal has a specific deadline. You should also plan milestones along the way and set timelines to reach them.

On your way to one million YouTube subscribers, you could set a three-month milestone of 300,000 subscribers. This helps you track and adjust your progress while working towards your goal.

This particular letter of the SMART acronym is the one that will help you avoid procrastination in the long run. You can also fight procrastination with Lifehack’s Fast Track Class – No More Procrastination. This course will help you learn how to stay on track as you work on each of your goals, whether it’s a few months or a few years.

4. Re-evaluate Your Long-Term Goal Periodically

Success is a dynamic process that requires constant readjustments and recalculations as part of your goal setting techniques.

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Re-evaluate your goals often (at least twice a year) to ensure that your goals fit the SMART framework and to ensure you are still on target [3].

Remember, you won’t be the same person in a year or two as you are now, and you may find that your defined goals are no longer working for the kind of life you envision. In that case, take a step back and rethink things before moving forward again. This is what evaluations are for.

The Bottom Line

Your goals dictate your actions and set your course. They provide you with a sense of purpose. Adjust your plan and processes when necessary, but always maintain a laser-like focus on your goal and refuse to settle.

Interruptions and hiccups to the plan will occur, but you must push past them and keep moving toward the prize. Before you know it, you will have converted your dream into reality.

More Goal Setting Techniques

Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Solutions via unsplash.com

Reference

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Denise Hill

Denise shares about psychology and communication tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on May 12, 2021

How to Create a Personal Strategic Plan for Your Goals

How to Create a Personal Strategic Plan for Your Goals

Creating a personal strategic plan is necessary to achieve your goals. Most companies do that, but for some reason, some talented, motivated individuals don’t. It makes no sense and yet, people broadly think about their goals but don’t create a personal strategy to achieve them.

In this article, I’m going to address that as it is one of the most critical single tasks you can do to change the course of your life.

Defining Your Personal Strategic Plan

Let’s start with the perfect example of John (pseudonym). As a child, he played football, baseball, and basketball, but he wasn’t great at any of them.At the age of 15, he tried to join the basketball team and failed. He was too short and managed to get in to carry the uniform of the star player. The story continues as he continued to practice hard, waking up at 6 am each day, and after a year finally making it to the basketball team that lost the first three tournaments.

He continued practicing even harder and eventually became perhaps the most influential basketball player of all time—Michael Jordan.

You might argue that it is definitely a combination of raw talent and hard work for athletes. Still, no one can say that without practice and working hard for years on the same goal, this hard-working individual would have never achieved his achievements.

This is why it is crucial to define your strategy and then pursue it. It cannot guarantee that you’ll become a world-class athlete, but it can guarantee that you’ll have the best chances of getting to your goals with your unique set of capabilities.

We’re going to provide you with research-based proven methods of preparing your personal strategic plan.

What Is a Personal Strategic Plan?

According to an article in the Journal of Management Research, “effective personal strategy means being able to think in multiple time frames, clarifying what one is trying to achieve over time as well as what needs to be done in the short term to get there.”[1] In other words, it means setting a vision and a plan to execute it.

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A growth mindset is essential when preparing a personal strategic plan. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be ambitious enough—and if you’re here thinking about your long term goals, it means that you likely already have a growth mindset.

According to an essay in Harvard Business Review, “individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts).”[2]

The main trait that is associated with success is planning. It is sometimes more important than talent.[3]

There are many methods for building your personal strategy, and I’m going to cover some of them. They all share an understanding of a high-level vision, a sense of your values, and practical steps on how to get there.

Horizons of Focus

David Allen is one of the leading time management specialists globally with his famous book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. One aspect of time management is the understanding of what you need to get done in a personal strategic plan.

His method includes the following horizons:

Horizon 5: Purpose and Principles

This is where you set your vision for life. Of course, this is a big thing that requires you to think about what you would be happy with accomplishing decades from now. Sub-questions are which jobs, lines of industry, impact, and legacy are you interested in.

An excellent method to examine that is by using the “five whys” process. In this simple method, you should ask yourself “why” to help you understand the real reasons for choosing your vision.

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For example, if you want to become a successful entrepreneur, you can ask yourself why that is. If the “why” is to make an impact, you can ask yourself additional questions, such as whether this is the best way to do that.

If you decide that it is, you might wonder why you want to create an impact. Perhaps it is because there is something you deeply care about.

Your vision shouldn’t be only on professional goals; it should be on every life goal you care about. A bad example would be: “To be the most successful entrepreneur ever.” It is not unique and does not address your inner wants and needs. A good one would be specific, non-generic for you and your personal goals.

By choosing a long-term goal specific for you, you can continue to the next step of figuring out how what the next few years will look like.

The second part of this horizon is principles. By choosing your principles, you can re-examine your choices and see if they amount to your expectation from yourself.

Horizon 4: Three- to Five-Year Vision

Now that you have clearly defined your goal in life as part of your personal strategic plan, you can plan the next few years. Every ambitious goal takes time to accomplish. You should plan how to get there and understand that flexibility is vital during these times, as there are a lot of changes going on.

This is when you decide on specific goals, such as a career path. If you aim to be a writer, and your goal is to become a columnist in the New York Times, what would get you there? If your dream is to start a successful startup, what can you do to learn the right things to qualify you as a leading entrepreneur?

When considering the next specific moves you should take, it is always recommended to find a mentor to consult with. This is someone you look up to and picture their life as one that you would like to have. They are usually at least 10-15 years older and successful in achieving their goals.

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What would be the next step to get you to your vision? This is not an easy question to answer, but broadly speaking, you should envision a road that can’t be 100% clear sometimes and still takes you in the right direction.

Horizon 3: One- to Two-Year Goals and Objectives

What objectives will the next year hold?

Let’s say that you chose a specific career path. Now, you should focus on the main criteria and key performance indicators that would help you get there. That may seem far from your vision, but visions are, by nature, a bit far out.

If you decided that you want to be a successful entrepreneur in five years to impact climate change positively, but you still don’t feel that you have the knowledge to do that, a first step might be working for a startup that’s doing that.

When you take a look at the first year of working for that startup, it might be a good idea to understand your job requirements and prepare to be excellent doing them. By doing that, you’re on the right path to your dream.

Horizon 2: Areas of Focus and Accountability

After learning what you need in order to plan the next few years, we’re now getting to the important daily stuff. What are the primary few things that are important for your success in achieving your goal?

This is the part when you understand your day to day responsibilities and excel at making them. Making a daily to-do list may be helpful at this stage. This is one way to hold yourself accountable when you decide on the daily steps you’ll need to take to carry out your personal strategic plan.

This is also the horizon that will help you avoid procrastination, as you’ll have a clear idea of what to do and when. If you fall into a rut of procrastination, check out Lifehack’s Fast-Track Class: No More Procrastination.

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Horizon 1: Projects

These are the open loops of your goals that need to be achieved. One example can be editing that company movie. Another might be finishing that report. It can also be personal things, such as organizing the birthday party for your brother.

You have tons of these, and every once in a while, it is suggested to ensure that they align with the higher-level goals you have.

After you add everything to your calendar, the last step is to actually get it done. You can use tons of project management systems, such as Monday, Asana, Notion, and others. In Notion, they actually have a prepared template for this suggested method.

Additional Methods

The above method is just one out of many for developing your personal strategic plan.

Another one is called V2MOM, invented by Salesforce’s founder[4]. The idea is to ask yourself five questions—some of them were also asked above—which would help you clarify your vision and get it.

The five questions are:

  • Vision: What do you want to achieve?
  • Values: What’s important to you?
  • Methods: How do you get it?
  • Obstacles: What is preventing you from being successful?
  • Measures: How do you know you have it?

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, knowing where you want to go and preparing for it has a huge impact on your success in life. That may seem obvious, but some ambitious people don’t manage their lives in a way that helps them position themselves in the best way possible to succeed. Spend a few hours thinking and coming up with a personal strategic plan to put yourself on the right path today.

More About Goal Planning Strategies

Featured photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters via unsplash.com

Reference

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