“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”
Goal setting is becoming a far more foreign entity these days. With the abundance of TV shows and social media, where will we find the time to even think about achieving success, nevermind setting some goals? Only a ‘select few’ seem able to master the best practices of goal setting. They recognize that continuous self-improvement and meticulous organization is what leads to faster success.
You may be ambitious for instance, but ambition without goals is like running a race and not knowing where it ends. You are more likely to become fatigued, demotivated and ultimately, give up. Setting clear goals keeps you focused and in control. You know where it begins, where it ends, and what the outcome will be.
So if you are looking for a way to organize yourself and reach your goals faster, read on to find the best practices for setting goals, your blueprint to success.
1. Be crystal clear about your end goal
In step 1, we begin at the end.
Think about the big picture and figure out what the end goal is. What exactly is it that you want to achieve. For example, if you’re currently an office administrator, and you want to be able to write code, your end goal would be something like being a computer programmer.
This simple goal setting template will give you a clear vision of what your end goal is, and how you’re planning to get there. The aim is to revisit this worksheet continuously to evaluate if you are still heading in the right direction.
Watch this video by Jay Shetty where he discusses 3 big questions to ask yourself when establishing crystal clear goals.
2. Set SMART GOALS
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time bounded. If you ever felt like you’ve already set goals and still never got anywhere, it’s probably because your goals were not specific enough.
This SMART goals worksheet will help you become more specific about each of your goals. Use this for every smaller goal you want to achieve. It sounds easier than it is, so take your time with this one.
Watch this video by Mind Tools, showing you exactly how to set up your SMART goals.
3. Create milestones
Milestones are smaller goals within your end goal. They are used as signal posts, where every task has a start date and a finish date.
Let’s go back to the office administrator example. It is not realistic to be an intermediate coder, coming from an office admin background. So your first milestone would be to learn exactly what coding is. You’ll need to understand the basics first before you can even jump right in and start coding. One of the best practices for goal setting is to establish a solid foundation first before you start to build on it.
Your next milestone would be to learn how to code, for example.
The next one would be to learn the different coding languages. And within this goal would be little milestones for each coding language.
A milestone template may help to map out your milestones more efficiently.
For a deeper understanding of milestones and how they can benefit your planning, watch this video by Online PM Courses.
4. Track your progress
The purpose of this step is two-fold. One is to track how far you’ve come and boost your motivation.
The other is to track whether you’re lagging behind or not. Perhaps there is something that requires more attention than others.
It is common to have to amend your milestones. For instance, sometimes tasks can present unforeseen challenges, prolonging the original plan. If this is the case, go back to your milestone chart and amend it. This will ensure that you stick to the end dates of each task.
This step will keep you on track and focused. There are several goal-setting apps that make this task quick and easy.
Watch this video by Natalie Bacon who breaks down tracking simply and realistically.
5. Acknowledge and address your weaknesses
Take note of any problem areas you are facing. Don’t skip over them expecting to do them later. This will have the opposite effect, slowing you down significantly. You will most likely have to go back to the task before you even finish the next one, as one task depends on another. Prepare yourself in advance to encounter some challenges, as they are sure to appear.
6. Be accountable
This is usually easier said than done. You may need to acquire an accountability buddy if you’re struggling to stay motivated or on track.
Be accountable for the mistakes and missed deadlines. Set yourself some consequences for when you veer off track.
It is common for motivation to wane when faced with challenges. To re-invigorate your motivation, it may help to re-evaluate where you are, where you want to be, and why.
7. Organize your goals
With all these maps and plans, how do you even organize all of this stuff? Another of the very best practices of goal setting is to have a vision board (or vision file, whatever you’re more comfortable with).
Right at the of your vision board should be the simple goal setting template from step 1 which contains your end goal.
The next line should be your milestone chart, arranged in order of priority. Attached to every milestone should be your SMART goals worksheets from step 2.
Now you have a clear and concentrated plan broken up into doable pieces, with clear tasks and timelines.
8. Set your intentions
Intentions are what you plan to do daily to achieve your goals.
Every day should have a specific list of what you plan to do on that day. For example, if your milestone is to lose 500g a weak, then your day should start with planning your meals. The next step would be to compile a shopping list or start prepping your meals for the day.
It helps to prepare this list the day before so that you can sleep in peace and wake up refreshed to face the day ahead, fully prepared, and knowing exactly what you need to do step by step.
9. Revisit your progress regularly
Looking back on what you have achieved can significantly boost your motivation and self-esteem.
Keep a list of all the challenges you’ve faced and how you overcame them. Check-in with your accountability buddy regularly and don’t try to cheat them, you will only be cheating yourself.
10. Have fun
Remember why you are aspiring to achieve your end goal. If it’s something you’re passionate about, enjoy the ride. If you’re not as passionate as you should be (like losing weight for example), but know this will benefit you greatly, focus on the benefits you will enjoy.
Everyone had to start somewhere so don’t be too hard on yourself.
Watch this TED Talk by Stephen Duneier, where he puts into perspective how a picture may seem too big to achieve in the beginning. But breaking it down into smaller chunks makes it much more attainable.