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Last Updated on May 5, 2021

Goal Setting Techniques to Master for Success in Life

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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 November 30, 2021

Tap Into Success With These Long-Term Career Goals Tips

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Tap Into Success With These Long-Term Career Goals Tips

I’ve been very lucky in my career to have worked with some amazing people, people who built their careers on the back of hard work, passion, and focus. But the most successful of these people had something else. Hard work, passion, and focus were there, but to get to the very top you need more than just these things; you also need solid, long-term career goals.

In this article, I will give you seven Long Term Career Goals Tips that you can use when goal setting to build a successful career.

1. Know What You Want

This one might seem obvious, but many people never take the time to think carefully about what they want to do in their career[1]. They accept jobs in industries or departments they have no interest in and soon find themselves settled into a career of misery and complaining.

It always amazes me how people spend more time planning their annual summer holiday than they do their career.

If you want to build success in your work, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. You need that North Star to guide you in your decisions and to keep you focused on where you are going with each stepping stone.

Without that clarity, you will drift from one role to another, never building any momentum towards your ultimate career goal.

2. Ask Yourself: What Skills Am I Lacking?

When we begin our working lives, we have the academic skills but lack many practical skills.

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When you know what you want to do with your career, you can identify the skills you will need. Soft skills such as relationship building, the ability to collaborate with others, and your productivity all form part of these skills, and you need to make sure you are developing them.

Invest in yourself, and for those skills that do not develop naturally, find courses online or some books to study. Once you have studied these skills, make sure you put them into practice through your long-term career goals. This one tip will put you ahead of 98% of your colleagues who treat their work as just a job that pays them money to live.

3. Know That Success Leaves a Path

I teach this one to all of my clients. In every industry, there are examples of people who started at the bottom and worked their way up to become industry leaders. Examples include Satya Nadella at Microsoft and Jony Ive at Apple. These people were not founders or entrepreneurs; they worked their way up to the top from the bottom, and left clues along the way

Whatever company you are in, there will be people who began at the bottom and worked their way up to become leaders. What kind of role models did they have? What books did they read? What skills did they develop?

I remember when I worked in the hotel industry. One of my mentors began as a receptionist. She rose to become the General Manager of my home city’s top hotel through having a clear goal, diligence, and always putting the guest first. She was tough but fair.

I learnt from her that every time you come into work, the guest was always the top priority and to always be respectful of your colleagues.

Find that one person in your industry that rose from the bottom and work out the path they took to get to where you want to be in the future. Then, map out your own path that reflects the path already taken to the top.

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4. Watercooler Gossip Will Not Help Your Career

I know it is always tempting to be the popular one in your office, to be the one everyone wants to hang out with and the one to go to when there’s some gossip to share. However, if you want to achieve your long-term career goals, don’t get involved.

Being the “office gossip” will sink your career faster than anything else. If you are serious about building a successful career, you do not have time to get involved in all this gossiping, complaining, and time wasting.

You don’t have to ignore your colleagues, but never indulge them by listening to the gossip. Make your excuses and get back to work. This one tip will safeguard your career more than any other.

5. Do Work When at Work

Your workplace is not a social club. It is a place to do the work you were employed to do.

Of course, being polite and friendly towards your colleagues is important, but never forget you are there to do work. Avoid getting yourself drawn into long conversations about that episode of Vikings or your local football team’s performance.

There is a time and place for these conversations, but it is not on company time. When at work, do your work, or you’ll never be able to make progress on your long-term career goals.

Here are some tips on how to focus on work: 15 Quick Ways To Focus on Work Easily

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6. Focus on How You Can Be Better

One of the qualities I have seen in all successful career builders is they have a “How can I do it better?” mindset. They are always asking themselves how they can do their work better, or how could they have solved that problem better.

It is a mindset of continuous self-improvement, and it is a practice that can catapult you to the top faster than anything else.

Look for parts of your work that are taking too much time and figure out how to streamline. Or, identify ways you could better serve your team and begin to implement them. Any of these can serve you when you’re creating long-term career goals.

Often, new working practices are welded on to old ones, and this leads to inefficiencies and duplication, especially if you’re in a leadership position. Find those inefficiencies and develop better ways of doing that work. This habit is always appreciated by your bosses and tells them you are serious about your work.

7. Model Successful Behaviors

Find the person at the top and work out how they got there. This does not necessarily mean the person at the top of your company; it means the person at the top of your industry.

If you are an architect, find out how Sir Frank Foster built his career. If you are a writer, find out how Stephen King or Maya Angelou gained experience and built their careers.

These people have shown you how to do it, and they left clues. Read everything you can about them, learn from them, and model their work habits.

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Modeling does not mean copying. It means taking the traits they used and adapting them to work best for you.

My legal hero was a British lawyer, George Carmen QC. When I began my legal career, I read everything I could about George Carmen QC. I learned that the key skill that led to his success was his ability to communicate with juries. He was a brilliant communicator, and I realized the one skill I could learn that would have a huge impact on my career was the ability to communicate with people.

While I did not ultimately follow a legal career, that skill of being good at communicating has served me well in all the industries I have worked in.

The Bottom Line

Whatever career path you are following, these tips will serve you well as you aim to create long-term career goals that will point you in the right direction. Creating clear short and long-term goals around the above tips will give you the advantages you need to build a wildly successful career. They are tested, they work, and all you need to do is to adapt them so they work for you.

More Tips on Setting Career Goals

Featured photo credit: Smart via unsplash.com

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