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GOAL SETTING

Goal Setting

What is Goal?

The state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve and that (when achieved) terminates behavior intended to achieve it; "the ends justify the means"

“The difference between a goal and a dream is the written word”

-Gene Donohue

Your Lifetime Goals

The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime, as setting Lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.  

To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some these categories (or in categories of your own, where these are important to you):

  • Artistic:
    Do you want to achieve any artistic goals? If so, what?
  • Attitude:
    Is any part of your mindset holding you back? Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? If so, set a goal to improve your behavior or find a solution to the problem.
  • Career:
    What level do you want to reach in your career?
  • Education:
    Is there any knowledge you want to acquire in particular? What information and skills will you need to achieve other goals?
  • Family:
    Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
  • Financial:
    How much do you want to earn by what stage?
  • Physical:
    Are there any athletic goals you want to achieve, or do you want good health deep into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
  • Pleasure:
    How do you want to enjoy yourself? - you should ensure that some of your life is for you!
  • Public Service:
    Do you want to make the world a better place by your existence? If so, how?

Career Goal Setting Tips

The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective goals:

  • State each goal as a positive statement: Express your goals positively - 'Execute this technique well' is a much better goal than 'Don't make this stupid mistake'
  • Be precise: Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
  • Set priorities:When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
  • Write goals down:this crystallizes them and gives them more force.
  • Keep operational goals small: Keep the low-level goals you are working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward. Derive today's goals from larger ones.
  • Set performance goals, not outcome goals:You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. There is nothing more dispiriting than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control. These could be bad business environments, poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals and draw satisfaction from them.
  • Set realistic goals: It is important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (parents, media, society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. Alternatively you may be naïve in setting very high goals. You might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.
  • Do not set goals too low:Just as it is important not to set goals unrealistically high, do not set them too low. People tend to do this where they are afraid of failure or where they are lazy! You should set goals so that they are slightly out of your immediate grasp, but not so far that there is no hope of achieving them. No one will put serious effort into achieving a goal that they believe is unrealistic. However, remember that your belief that a goal is unrealistic may be incorrect. If this could be the case, you can to change this belief by using imagery effectively.

A simple five-step process of setting goals that you can actually achieve, rather than just wish for

Step 1: Define your goal

This seems simple, but surprisingly isn't. Most people do not clearly know what they want. Defining a goal helps you articulate what you want -- not only to others, but also to yourself. Imagine leaving your home every morning with a vague idea of where you are headed. What are the chances you will get anywhere worthwhile?

So, how do we define specifically what we want? Take a rough sheet of paper and pick an area of your life (career, education, health, relationships, spirituality, personal growth, etc) where you would like to set a goal. Write down around 20 things that you want to see happen. Don't think or analyze too much. Let your thoughts flow.

Now prioritize this list -- rank these 20 in the order of their importance to you. What you are doing is gaining clarity into what is most important. You will find yourself a lot clearer in your head.

 

Step 2: How will you know you have achieved this goal?

As an example, let's work on your top three goals. Most often, if we don't have good validation criteria after having set a goal, we will never know if we actually succeed in achieving it. So, ask yourself this significant question: How will I know I have achieved this goal?

This might be straightforward for some goals. If one was 'to get a promotion', or 'get admission into XYZ institute', the for that is straightforward. But, if your goal is 'to become a better manager', that's a little vague. You might want to set the validation criteria as:

 

  1. The attrition rate in my team will drop.
  2. Rewards earned by team members will grow.
  3. Meetings will be shorter.
  4. I will give and take regular feedback from my team.

 

If these things happen, you will know you have become a better manager. Now, look at your goal and try making your validation criteria as specific as possible. Notice that all four points mentioned above can be measured tangibly.

Step 3: How to go about doing it

Take a good look at your goal and validation criterion. What do you need to do to make these results happen? This is the time to break down your goal into actions and sub-actions. Come up with a list by asking yourself this question.

Step 4: Set a time frame

Setting a time frame for your goal breathes life into it and also allows you to build it into your schedule. It also helps you create a sense of urgency about your goal. If you are having trouble doing this, refine your goals and make them more specific. The more specific your goals are, the easier it will be to set a time frame around it.

Step 5: Take Nike's advice

Just do it.

Unfortunately, this is what proves to be the most difficult step for most. Inertia, procrastination and laziness hold us back from doing what we know we should be doing. Here's some simple advice on how to get things done:

  1. Read your goals, your validation criterion and action steps every single day, more than once if possible.
  2. Use a planner and fill in your list of actions. If you see what needs to be done in your planner, you are more likely to do it.
  3. Use a reminder service. You can use an online calendar or reminder service to send you a reminder email every day.

The trick is to keep your goals and action list on top of your mind somehow, and keep taking action. If you do not do this, chances are they will meet the same fate as your New Year resolutions.

Finally, if this sounds like too much work, try to spice it up by making it fun. Introduce elements of things you like. Most often, we need to tweak our mindset just a little bit to create huge results in our lives.

SMART Goals

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic.

While there are plenty of variants, SMART usually stands for:

                                      S        Specific

                                      M        Measurable

                                      A         Attainable

                                      R         Relevant

                                      T         Time-bound

For example, instead of having “to sail around the world” as a goal, it is more powerful to say “To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015.” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!

Achieving Goals

When you have achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress you have made towards other goals. If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately.

With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:

  • If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goals harder
  • If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goals a little easier
  • If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so
  • If while achieving the goal you noticed a deficit in your skills, decide whether to set goals to fix this.

Failure to meet goals does not matter as long as you learn from it. Feed lessons learned back into your goal-setting program.

Remember too that your goals will change as you mature. Adjust them regularly to reflect this growth in your personality. If goals do not hold any attraction any longer, then let them go. Goal setting is your servant, not your master. It should bring you real pleasure, satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

Key points

 Goal setting is an important method of:

  • Deciding what is important for you to achieve in your life
  • Separating what is important from what is irrelevant
  • Motivating yourself to achievement
  • Building your self-confidence based on measured achievement of goals

When you achieve goals, allow yourself to enjoy this achievement of goals and reward yourself appropriately. Draw lessons where appropriate, and feed these back into future performance.

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