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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, bold, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to have an aim in your mind before you get on with the process.

Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you because, today, all the following information has got you covered.

Today you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

What is Goal Setting?

So, what exactly is goal setting?

To understand that, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

A goal is basically your aim for the relative long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals.

Let’s say you want to learn a new foreign language. Your goal here is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and learning aims, are the objectives.

Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

Why is Goal Setting Important?

Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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Well, if that’s what you want to do in your life, go ahead, but if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, goal setting is necessary.

Setting a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results.[1]

Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity in the right regard.

Types of Goals

Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals.

These categories will not just help you brainstorm new goals for yourself, but it will also guide you to list down goals in the right way.

Time-Based Goals

One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

Daily

There are certain small goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

Short-Term

Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, these goals are aimed for the near future.

The great thing about these goals is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have an idea of how much the situation can change. That is unless, of course, something extremely unpredictable happens, the chances of which are quite slim.

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Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next 2 years.

Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

Long-Term

Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

Life-Based Goals

Moving forward, you can also categorize goals based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

Career

Like all humans, you will always want to succeed and excel in your career. No one wants to stay where they are forever.

Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal.

You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

Personal

The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

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From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal.

Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, get married, or have children, all these goals are personal and very important to have in your list of goals.

How to Set Goals

The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way. Here’s how to do that.

SMART Goals

Every goal you define has to be smart.[2] No, we don’t mean the adjective. We’re referring to the acronym here.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

In summary, every goal should be very well defined. It shouldn’t be generic or broad. Every detail should be clarified. If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try it is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

Some Rules

Whenever setting goals, keep a few things in mind.

First and foremost, prioritize your goals. Things that you want to achieve the quickest should be worked on first.

Never be selfish. There are people around you who will be affected by the things you do. Keep them in mind when defining goals.

Lastly, do not let yourself forget the bigger picture. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

I also recommend you to watch this video to learn the 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

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How to Reach Your Goals

You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

Tactics

Now that you’ve set goals, you might be expecting some magic to happen and voila! Your goals have been achieved.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s no magic involved. You’ll have to work hard yourself.

One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Focus on one thing at a time.

Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it way easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

Tools

With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, goal setting is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

Try out the tactics and tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
[2] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on August 4, 2020

How Smart Goal Setting Helps You Make Lasting Changes

How Smart Goal Setting Helps You Make Lasting Changes

SMART goal setting is one of the most valuable methods used by high achievers today to actualize their life goals time after time. SMART goal setting is the inverse of random or carefree goal setting without strategy.

Perhaps, you’ve always wished to get back in shape, get an annuity, or take control of your finances, but you failed to act. When you approach your goals with a care-free and nonchalant attitude, you’re less likely to achieve them.

You should have a strategic goal setting method in place, and learning how to set smart goals is imperative in this case. The method is time-tested and purposeful, meaning it can help you achieve your goals now.

To achieve your goals consistently and join the pack of high achievers out there who have consistently achieved many of their goals, you must be prepared to do what these people have been doing, and be ready to do the right thing: SMART goal setting.

What Is the SMART Model for Setting Goals?

SMART goal setting is a goal-setting method that considers certain factors about a goal relative to the person setting it. These factors are simply the five different letters in the SMART acronym for goal setting.

It is relative to the person setting the goal because what is true for A may not be true for B; or what is possible for A or within A’s ability to achieve may not be possible for B or within B’s ability to achieve.

What does the goal setting acronym SMART stand for?

  • S—Specific
  • M—Measurable
  • A—Achievable
  • R—Realistic/Relevant
  • T—Time-bound

Is it possible that this acronym can make a long lasting impact in your life?

Is it possible that a mere goal setting metric like SMART can help you achieve so many of your unfulfilled goals?

Is it possible that if you practice SMART goal setting, you will be able to have faster results, understand your goals better, overcome the habit of procrastination, and achieve a lot?

The power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

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It is important to extend the inquiry by asking: How many times have you said you’ll do “X,” but failed to do so?

We all have goals, and we all have 24 hours each day at our disposal. While some people find it easy to achieve their goals without procrastinating, some find it difficult to do so.

For some people who have succeeded again and again in achieving their goals, they have simply found an easy way of doing this. Is there something they know that you don’t?

How Smart Goal Setting Makes a Lasting Impact

Smart goal setting examples can be found all around you. Through SMART goal setting, Stephen Cooley was able to grow his real estate business to the point of closing at $110 million in sales when the average price point of homes was between $100,000 – $200,000 in South Carolina[1].

Through SMART goal setting, Steve Jobs was able to improve the fortunes of Apple and prevent the company from going bankrupt, even when it had barely 90 days left before being declared so.

SMART goal setting can make a lasting impact in your life in several ways.

Make Your Goal Clearer

When you use the SMART criteria to set goals, it is easier for you to understand the various phases of your goal.

By using SMART goal setting, you’re able to ask yourself relevant questions pertaining to your goal.

Motivate You Into Acting on Your Goals

When you use SMART goal setting and break down the goal into smaller goals or milestones, the bigger goal no longer looks intimidating or impossible.

Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, wrote in his book How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be about how they applied the rule of five in marketing their book, Chicken Soup, and were able to make the book a best seller after some months[2]. The rule of five simply means doing five specific things every day that will move you closer to achieving your goal.

In order not to be overwhelmed, you would have to measure your performance using the right metrics. Here we are considering the Measurable and Achievable aspects of the SMART acronym. It is critical that you measure yourself in terms of lead measures.

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What are lead measures? They are the things you do that leads you closer to your goals. On the other hand, you would have to avoid “lag measures.”

While lag measures mean a successful outcome that you wished for and got, they can be emotionally draining and deceitful because, whenever they don’t happen, you can become discouraged.

Therefore, it is better to stick to lead measures.

Help You Save Time

You can achieve more when you use SMART model goal setting.

To be strategic, your goal would have to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. If you can’t identify any of these points in your goal, you probably will be wasting your time on a wild goose chase.

When your goals are written down, it’s easier for you to go into action mode.

Improve Your Self-Discipline

Self-improvement is an important thing for everyone to do periodically. When you set SMART goals, it makes you realize that you have to sit up and work on achieving them.

How to Set SMART Goals

See the source image

    To make your SMART goals work, use the following tips:

    Specific

    Every goal ought to be specific. It is important to guard against making vague goals because even when they have been achieved, you may not know. This is because you weren’t specific enough.

    For example, “I will start planning toward retirement” is vague. Rather than write that, you could say, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan.” This is more specific.

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    When you are specific on your goal, it’s easier for you to identify all its components and work accordingly toward achieving it.

    Measurable

    Your goals must be measurable. When they are measurable, it’s easier for you to follow through.

    A goal like this is not measurable: “I want to make millions of dollars.” You can make it more measurable by saying, “I want to make one million dollars selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten dollars each.”

    Also, using our SMART goal setting examples while explaining the Specific acronym, you can make the goal more measurable by saying, “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month.”

    Achievable

    How realistic or actionable is your goal? Is it practical enough to fit into a given time frame? Is it something you are able to achieve in your capacity?

    You would only be setting yourself up for failure if you sets goals that are not reasonable.

    A goal like this is highly unrealistic and, therefore, not achievable: “I want to be the Governor of Texas in six months,” especially since the elections will be coming up in three years.

    Goals must be written down relative to the experiences of the one setting them. They must resonate with you. It is important that you have at least some of the resources needed to actualize this goal.

    It is also important that you consider your time frame. When the time frame to achieve a complex goal is too short, it is rare that such goal will be completed.

    Thus, using our previous example, if you write “I want to make one million dollars in ten days selling one hundred thousand copies of my book at ten dollars each,” you would only be setting up yourself for failure.

    This is especially true if you’re not a popular author or if you’ve never sold even up to one thousand copies of any of your previous books, whether e-copy or in print.

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    Realistic/Relevant

    Before you proceed to making the commitment toward that goal, you need think about how realistic and relevant it is.

    Being realistic means you should be willing to make all the commitments required for that goal to be achieved. If your goal is relevant, it fits into the life you’ve imagined for yourself.

    Time-Bound

    Every goal must have a commencement date and an end date written down. It is also important that you break down your goals into phases, chunks, bits, or milestones.

    The act of having deadlines set to your goals is ample motivation that drives you into action. Without a deadline, it is not possible for you to know if you’re making headway with your goals.

    “I will start planning toward retirement by starting an annuity plan and saving $500 every month for the next twenty five years” is a time-bound goal.

    Remember that some goals are short-term while some are long-term. It is important to always bear this in mind, because this will help you in making a clear and realistic strategy when SMART goal planning.

    Without SMART goal setting in view, much of our goals may likely end in our minds, on paper, or just midway into implementation. SMART goal setting reveals to us all the action points of our goals and helps us to have an awareness of every aspect of our goals.

    The Bottom Line

    What matters at the end of the day is what you do with the contents of this article because the power to achieve your goals is in your hands.

    It is not enough to have a goal. It is not enough to put it down in writing. It is important to have a strategy in mind while putting it down. This strategy is a guideline or set of rules that point you in the right direction. It is SMART goal setting in the given circumstance.

    After writing down your goals, you will have to be ready to take action. There should be a clear action point. Write down what you need to do on daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

    When your goals are realistic, they make them worth the chase. One of the things to bear in mind is that, in order not to be overwhelmed by the daunting nature of your goals, remember to always break them into milestones, chunks, or bits. In fact, take one day at a time.

    Do not bother yourself with the one-year, three-year, five-year or ten-year plan as this may likely overwhelm you with fear and doubt. Let your focus be on each day. What will I be doing today? Consider this and go for it.

    More on the SMART Model for Setting Goals

    Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

    Reference

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