BY ZAINAB JADA
MENTAL AND WELLNESS COACH
Have you thought about what you want to be doing in a year?
Are you clear about what your main objective at work is now?
Do you know what you want to have achieved by the end of today?
If you want to achieve, you need to set goals. Without goals, you lack focus and direction.
Goal setting can look different depending on an individual’s lifestyle, values and definition of success. Your goals are unique to you and don’t need to look like anyone else’s.
WHAT IS GOAL SETTING?
- Goal-setting is the process of taking active steps to achieve your desired outcome.
- The classic goal-setting definition boils down to the process of identifying something you want to accomplish and establishing measurable objectives and timeframes to help you achieve it. Goal setting can help you in any area of your life, from reaching financial freedom to adopting a healthy diet. When you learn how to set goals in one area of your life, it becomes easier to fix them in other areas.
- Setting progressive goals that allow small wins helps you move on to more significant achievements. These small goals lead to progress, which is the only thing you need to feel fulfilled and happy.
- The development of an action plan is designed to motivate and guide a person or group toward a goal. Goals are more deliberate than desires and momentary intentions. Therefore, setting goals means committing thought, emotion, and behaviour towards attaining the goal.
- The process of identifying something you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and timeframes to achieve it.
- However, to accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen.
- It is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work to do it. In between, some very well-defined steps transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.
Setting goals is a process that changes over time. The goals you set in your twenties will most likely be very different from those in your forties. Whatever your age doesn’t matter in the end, as long as you continually revisit your goals and work on updating them.
WHY IS GOAL SETTING IMPORTANT?
- Goal setting is the fundamental key to success. Whether increasing your intelligence, learning a new skill or rekindling a relationship, setting goals helps us achieve a more fulfilled life. It also helps us grow and expand, pushing ourselves to transform in ways that we never imagined. To feel fulfilled, we need to know and feel like we’re working to achieve something.
- Effective goal setting lets you measure progress, overcome procrastination and visualise your dreams. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish, you can’t create a plan to get there. Setting goals is the vehicle that will drive you to your desired destination.
- Goal setting also keeps you accountable. Whether you’re learning how to set goals at work or in your personal life, telling others about your goals makes you more likely to establish the patterns that will accomplish them.
- Setting goals helps trigger new behaviours, helps guide your focus, and helps you sustain that momentum in life.
- Goals also help align your focus and promote a sense of self-discipline. In the end, you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and you can’t improve upon something that you don’t properly manage. Setting goals can help you do all of that and more.
- Goal setting can lead to greater success and performance. Setting goals not only motivates us but can also improve our mental health and our level of personal and professional success.
It also helps mobilise energy, which leads to a higher effort overall. Higher effort leads to an increase in persistent effort.
TYPES OF GOALS
There are three types of goals
- Outcome goals
Process goals are specific actions or ‘processes’ of performing. For example, aiming to study for 2 hours after dinner every day. Process goals are 100% controllable by the individual.
Performance goals are based on a personal standard. For example, aiming to achieve a 3.5 GPA/ A grade achievement. Personal goals are mostly controllable.
Outcome goals are based on winning. For a college student, this could look like landing a job in your field or landing a job at a particular place of employment you wanted. Outcome goals are very difficult to control because of other outside influences.
Process, performance, and outcome goals have a linear relationship. This is important because if you achieve your process goals, you give yourself a good chance to achieve your performance goals. Similarly, when you achieve your performance goals, you have a better chance of achieving your outcome goal.
GOAL SETTING TIPS
- set both short and long-term goals
- set SMART goals
- S: Specific – highly detailed statement on what you want to accomplish (use who, what, where, how etc.)
- M: Measurable – how will you demonstrate and evaluate how your goal has been met?
- A: Attainable – they can be achieved by your own hard work and dedication – make sure your goals are within your ability to achieve
- R: Relevant – how do your goals align with your objectives?
- T: Time based – set 1 or more target dates – these are the “by whens” to guide your goal to successful and timely completion (include deadlines, frequency and dates)
- set goals that motivate you
- write your goals down and put them in a place you can see
- adjust your goals as necessary
- Recognise and reward yourself when you meet a goal
Set all three types of goals – process, performance, and outcome – but focus on executing your smaller process goals to give you the best chance for success whilst moving in the direction of your larger goals.
WAYS TO SET EFFECTIVE GOALS
Clarity is important when it comes to goals. Setting goals that are clear and specific eliminate the confusion that occurs when a goal is set in a more generic/general manner.
Challenging goals stretch your mind and cause you to think bigger. This helps you accomplish more. Each success you achieve helps you build a winning mindset.
Commitment is also important. If you don’t commit to your goal with everything you have, it is less likely you will achieve it.
Feedback helps you know what you are doing right and how you are doing. This allows you to adjust your expectations and your plan of action going forward.
- Task Complexity
Task Complexity is the final factor. It’s important to set goals that are aligned with the goal’s complexity.
HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
- VISUALISE YOUR GOALS
Where focus goes, energy flows, so it’s critical to focus on your goals. Visualization is one powerful way to do this. When you visualise your goals on a daily basis as if you’ve already achieved them, you align your purpose and values with your actions. Everyone from star athletes to entrepreneurs uses visualization as well as practices like vision boards to help with goal setting. You can even tape images of your goals on the mirror in your bathroom or pin them to the wall next to your computer. If your goals involve adopting a healthy diet and losing weight, put them on the front of your refrigerator or a kitchen cabinet.
- KEEP YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
Find a friend, family member or another person you trust and share your list of goals with them. You can also share the list with a mentor or life coach. Sharing your list will make you more accountable and give you a partner who will work with you through frustrations or roadblocks. The right partner can help you transform obstacles into opportunities and stay on track.
- TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
Have a set schedule to review both short- and long-term goal setting. This helps you track progress as well as determine what activities are helping you and which are hindering you. It’s important to know when you need to make alterations to your course. Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach. Don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal.
- CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESSES
Goal setting doesn’t have to be a boring set of tasks to check off. When you’re planning your goals, including ways to celebrate your successes. If you’re working toward financial freedom, set aside a budget for a nice dinner when you reach a certain goal. Celebrate relationship milestones. Got that promotion? Share it with loved ones and celebrate. It will help you stay focused – while also being present in the moment.
IN A NUTSHELL
Setting goals can help us move forward in life. Goals give us a roadmap to follow. Goals are a great way to hold ourselves accountable, even if we fail. Setting goals and working to achieve them helps us define what we truly want in life.
Setting goals also helps us prioritize things. If we choose to simply wander through life, without a goal or a plan, that’s certainly our choice. However, setting goals can help us live the life we truly want to live.
Having said that, we don’t have to live every single moment of our lives planned out because we all need those days when we have nothing to accomplish.
However, those who have clearly defined goals might just enjoy their downtime even more than those who don’t set goals.