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Published on April 29, 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.

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.

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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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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

How To Use Goals and Dreams To Achieve Personal Success

Goals and dreams are two concepts that are often used interchangeably in the quest for success. Although they can be used to complement one another, they do mean different things. This article looks at what goals and dreams are and how they can be used hand-in-hand in order to achieve personal success.

What Are Goals?

There are different ways to describe what goals are; it can be said that goals are the desired outcomes that you have plans and commitment to achieve. What makes goals spectacular is that the things you want to achieve are clearly defined with a timeframe within which they should be achieved.

Here are some examples of goals:

  • Get certified in analytics in three months
  • Celebrate child’s 5th birthday in Disneyland
  • Attain financial freedom at 50
  • Read and finish at least one book monthly
  • Watch the next Olympic games live

What Are Dreams?

Dreams are thoughts, imaginations, and aspirations that are often about what we desire to attain, experience, or achieve. Dreams can be spontaneous, or they can be desires that we have nursed over a long time. Our dreams are often shaped and influenced by what we see regularly around us, the things we have heard or read about, or the things people we admire are doing.

Here are some examples of dreams:

  • Attend an Ivy League Institution
  • Own a company
  • Be debt-free
  • Be healthy and fit
  • Travel the world

Differences Between Goals and Dreams

There is no need to confuse goals and dreams when you know their differences[1] and how they can work together to facilitate success. The following are some useful insights about goals and dreams.

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Thoughts and Imagination Vs. Plans and Action

In order to have a dream, you need to engage your thoughts and imagination. This means thinking deeply about what you want to achieve, where you want to go, and to what extent you want to achieve those things. For dreams, everything ends in the realm of imagination if nothing is done thereafter.

Unlike dreams, goals require a commitment towards achieving the desired end. This includes deciding the size of the goals, planning the order of events that will lead to achieving them, and the timeline within which they should be achieved.

Spontaneity Vs. Thoughtfulness

You can have a dream anytime, anyhow, and without any form of preparation or formality. This is not the same with goals. Goals must be set thoughtfully, and conscientiously. They must be clearly written down and should be S.M.A.R.T.

Dreams Come Before Goals

It would be right to say that there is no goal without a dream. Dreams must come first because dreams give birth to goals. You must have a desire and nurture it in your mind until it becomes a burning desire that you are ready to pursue. That is when they can be turned to goals.

Captured Dreams Become Goals

There can be dreams without goals. Dreams can go on and on and end only in fantasy. However, when they are captured, they can become actionable goals that can, indeed, materialize.

There is a Yoruba proverb that can be translated thus: “S/he who finds money in the dream and gets excited should be told to focus on working hard so as not to become a victim of poverty.” While the proverb is primarily about night dreams, it can apply to imaginative dreaming, too.

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To realize your dream, it must be captured and turned into goals; then, you will have to create a goals strategy and follow it up with hardwork.

Goals Require Steps

Goals are the steps you set out to take after you are convinced that your dream is truly worth it. These steps will outline what you should do and how you should do them to attain your dream.

Dreams Are Free, but Goals Come With a Price

Dreams come without costs. You can dream as many times as you want in a day without restriction. However, goals are not like that. You have to think about whether your goals are achievable or not when setting them. Because of the costs (sacrifices) associated with getting your goals done, it places a limit on which goals you can set per time.

Lack of Limits Vs. Defined Objectives

There are no structures to dreams, neither are there limits to how far you can dream. But goals have to be framed. They must be clearly defined with measurable objectives and a timeline.

Inspiration Vs. Creating Change

You can dream to inspire yourself and aspire to a greater future, but if you want to experience real change, you have to be specific about what you want and how you want to get there. Goals are the commitments made towards creating change.

How to Turn Your Dreams Into Actionable Goals

To help you take your dreams to the next level, follow these tips and create actionable goals.

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1. Make Your Dream Clear and Solid

Before your dream can become ripe enough to be turned into an actionable goal, you have to be clear about what you really want. Your dream has to go from imagination to reality. Here are some things that can be done to make your dreams clear.[2]

Take Inspiration From Success Stories

Read inspiring stories of successful people to think through your own dreams. Such stories will help you to put your dreams in the proper perspective.

Envision Your Future

Engage the power of vision in picturing your own future. Let your mind be in tune with what you desire for yourself. It is a known truth that you are always drawn towards the pictures you have in your mind.

Think About Your Dream

The mind is very powerful, and it has the ability to create imaginary concepts that can be turned into reality. Most of the edifices you can see existed first in the realm of the mind.

See the Big Picture

Dreams are free, so think big. See the bigger picture of your dream, the highest possible level you think you can attain.

Write Down Your Dream

Capture your dreams by writing them down. This will make them clearer. You don’t have to be economical while writing them down. Just write them the way they occur to you.

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2. Break Your Dream Into Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

You might not be able to pursue your dream in its raw state, and that is why goals are needed. You should have a plan and structure for achieving your dream, and this will include setting both short-term and long-term goals that will get you on the path of your dream.

Short-term goals are goals that you set to achieve from now up to 3 months or in less than a year. Long-term goals are goals that can take anywhere from 1 to 3 years to achieve. Your short-term goals are actually your stepping stones towards achieving the long-term goals and ultimately leading you to your dream.

3. Make the Goals SMART

What makes a goal statement differ from a dream statement is that goals should be S.M.A.R.T when framing them. This means that each of the goals you set towards achieving your dream must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Sensitive.

For more on S.M.A.R.T goals, check out this article.

4. Break Each Goal Into Milestones

Beyond creating goals that are SMART, you should also break each goal into milestones. Milestones are small steps (miniature goals) that can be achieved within a very short time. When you achieve these smaller goals, it keeps you motivated to keep getting closer to your big dream without feeling overwhelmed. You can keep your eyes on the big dream while focusing on the milestones.

Final Thoughts

Anyone can have dreams to create a picture of their own future. If you are not satisfied with your current state, all you have to do is dream. If you have achieved your dreams, then it’s time to dream again or inspire others to dream.

You can achieve anything that your mind can conceive if you take the time to turn them into goals. Make your dreams big, but set smaller goals to move progressively towards the realization of your big dream.

More Tips on Using Dreams to Achieve Success

Featured photo credit: Yukie Emiko via unsplash.com

Reference

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