Sure, you can get through life without setting goals. However, setting clear goals can help you concentrate better, reduce stress, and accomplish more. Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your future and moving you towards your long-term vision. Personal goal setting gives your life direction, and your achievements along the way help you become more motivated and self-confident. The struggle of attaining your personal goals can also give you insight into and appreciation for the challenges and rewards of managing organizational goals. Tip: Make an action plan. You can do this with your personal and professional goals.
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We’ve all set goals and then failed to meet them, and we probably will again. Your goals serve a purpose if they propel you to greater heights. Goal setting is a process, a tool, a means to an end. Goals are not simply things we want, but steps to take. The key is to choose your goals wisely and honor a process that allows for flexibility and spontaneity. There are some golden rules of goal setting.
Effective goals are S.M.A.R.T.:
Specific: The more detailed and focused your goal, the better.
Measurable: Make sure you can answer the question, How will I know when it is accomplished?
Action-Oriented: Goal statements should start with an action verb.
Realistic: Goals should be challenging but not impossible.
Timebound: A deadline will encourage action and help you avoid procrastination.
Goal Setting Process
Start by thinking about what you would like to accomplish during your lifetime. This is your long-term goal and it will give you an overall direction. Think about writing a personal mission statement for your life; a short description of what you hope to accomplish. Because language shapes our mind and motivation, its important to state your goals positively. Tip: Put your goals in writing. Consider including reasons for setting each goal, listing obstacles to overcome, and/or identifying people that can help you.
Next, set smaller, short-term goals that support your long term goal. What do you need to complete in order to reach your lifetime plan? Break these steps down into smaller goals; create a five-year, one-year, and six-month plan based on each previous plan. Remember to set realistic, coherent goals. A good goal is one you truly care about and set within the realm of your control. Tip: Take a balanced approach to goal setting and consider the wheel of life: career, financial, education, family, art/creativity, physical fitness, mental health, public service, leisure time.
Finally, start working on your goals. Your written, specific, challenging goals with deadlines make it possible to measure your success. Along the way, revisit your vision. Is the mental image of your success the same as it was a year ago? Review your goals regularly to reflect your changing priorities; feed lessons learned back into your goal setting. This is part of the learning process. Tip: Telling someone else about your goals can increase your own commitment as well as providing a source of support.
When you ask yourself, Where am I putting my focus?, consider your to-do list of goals and choose something that will bring you closer to your vision. Let your goals guide your efforts. Pace yourself for the long haul. To accomplish your most important goals, you need a steady effort for a long time. Goal setting is an important method of visioning what you want to achieve, deciding whats important, motivating yourself, and building self-confidence based on success. Tip: Remember, goals are meant to help you improve, not to punish you. When you achieve a goal, take time to enjoy the satisfaction. Celebrate your successes!