Setting and achieving goals!
One of my favourite topics, I am incredibly passionate about the importance of goal setting and it is something people frequently ask me about.
Setting goals is nothing new, we do this in so many areas of life yet the results people get vary hugely. Have you set goals and not achieved them? We often do.
This is why it is so important to follow a structured process that not only focuses on what your goal is, but also on how will you actually achieve it.
It’s very easy to imagine what we want. You just need to ask yourself:
What do you want in your life in the context of health, fitness, career, finance, relationships or personal development? If you could have anything at all, what would it be? What is something you want to achieve?
These are all great questions to ask ourselves when we start thinking about setting goals. We all have things we want to change or accomplish and will often think about them.
But once we have thought about what we want, what next?
The magic is in the action
We can’t just think, say or even write a goal and then wait for it to become reality. I wish it were that simple, I am sure you do too.
Writing the goal is just the starting point… if you want the magic to happen, well that comes from taking action!
In the words of Greg Reid:
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dream come true.”
Don’t be the one to hold you back!
Through studying Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Time Line Therapy® I have learnt about powerful goal setting techniques that drive results. Learning about building an empowering mindset and removing any limiting beliefs before even getting into goal setting was the biggest turning point for me.
I learnt that you need to be laser focused on what you want and be aligned in the belief that you can get the results you desire. You can always find reasons you can’t have what you want if you go looking for them! Instead focus on the results you want to achieve and what will get you there.
“Only 20% of the reasons why you are not achieving your goals are on the outside. Always start with yourself.” – Brain Tracy
Putting it into practice
Goal setting is an inportant part of the work I am doing and the programmes I run, with a large emphasis on mindset, reflection and action planning. I have captured some of simple steps to get you started in turning your dreams into your reality.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is for 2 years or 2 months from now, the steps remain the same.
1. Take some time to daydream first!
A goal starts as a dream, so tap into your dreams, desires, and imagination. Take time to get a picture of what it is you want to achieve. Picture it as if you have already achieved it, this is important and supports step 2.
Play some calming music and let your imagination flow for even just a few minutes. After you’re done, make sure to write everything down. What did you see, hear, taste, smell and feel. Capture as much detail as you can.
"Dream big when setting goals! You never know, you might just get everything you ever dreamed of and more." - Charlotte Sutton-Dockreay
2. Lets get SMART
Now it's time to take what you wrote in step 1, and turn this into your goal. Using the SMART format helps you to write your goals in a structured way.
S is for Specific – you need to get specific. The more specific you are the easier it is to know exactly what you are working towards. You want a pay rise, what is the exact new salary you want to have?.
M is for Measurable – The goal needs to be something you can measure . If you are as specific as mentioned above the S and M go hand in hand. Also think about how you can track your progress.
A is for Achievable - this means that it's inside of your capabilities. Now, for some people this actually means dream bigger, don’t limit yourself. For others this means, do a sense check and really think if it is achievable for you! A is also for As if Now – A goal which is written as if now is written in present tense. So the goal should say something like "I now make $X amount of money".
R is Realistic – Is this goal realistic given the resources and time available?
T is for Timed – you have to put a date against this. When will you have accomplished it? If you are writing your goal 'as if now' add the date at the beginning: "Today is the 9th March 2023........."
3. Understand the final step
Think about what is the last thing that has to happen for you to know you have achieved your goal. This will be personal to you, if a group of people had the same goal this last step could be completely different for each person. For a pay rise; it could be being told you have it, or receiving the letter confirming it or maybe its not until you get the first salary payment at the new amount. Write this down.
4. Break it down!
Think about your goal timeframe and decide on how best to establish milestones. If a goal is too big or far away this can make it feel unachievable or maybe even overwhelming.
If your goal is to be achieved 3 months from now, 1-month milestones could be enough. If it is 3 years then you might want to have milestones for 2 yrs, 1 yr, 6 mths and 3 mths.
Redo the SMART process for each milestone to define a goal which is supportive of the end goal. Also write down the last step to know each milestone has been achieved.
Adding in milestones makes it easier to track yourself, provides an opportunity to celebrate achievements and reviews goals as you go.
5. Action Plan
Steps 1-4 are your WHAT, what is it you want to achieve. Now you have a SMART goal for each milestone and the last step that has to happen to know you have achieved them.
At step 5 we are on the HOW, how will you achieve it!
Dedicating time here to really map out your actions. This will help you to be really clear and to know where to focus you time and effort to get your results. This becomes your checklist and a way to keep yourself accountable!
These are my 5 top tips to help you in your goal setting. Enjoy the process more than anything, the focus and clarity that can come about from setting effective goals will fuel your motivation to get the results you desire.
“ If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.” - Les Brown
I would love to hear about your experience with goal setting. Share your experiences or top tips in the comments below.