WHY SET GOALS?
What is your goal? How clear are you about what it is you really want? Defining what it is you actually want; your purpose, your goal, your destination, whatever you want to call it, is the first step.
Many people think that setting a goal or destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future, but will never be attained. This can prove to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things.
Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place, and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action, which is never taken.
Most people, when asked what they want, say something like ‘to be richer, thinner, or more successful’. This isn’t enough to help you get what you want. There is a big difference between a pipe dream, a day dream or a fantasy, and a clearly defined ‘specific something’ you are actually dead set on achieving or getting. When you set your clear goal, your mind will naturally open up to new possibilities and you will learn to hear them and act on these possibilities without hesitation.
You will become proactive, rather than reactive and things will start to happen for you. So to identify your goal, you’ll need to be specific. I mean really specific. Without a crystal clear goal, destination or end point set clearly in your mind, how on earth will you ever get where you want to go? Exactly how rich, and by when? How much slimmer, to the kilo?
Did you ever get in your car with the intention of going ‘somewhere’? Nope, you know where you are going and how you’ll get there and how long it will take. If you apply the same principle to your life, with a specific destination in mind, you’ll be focused. And focus means clarity, and clarity makes everything exciting and possible.
Put a date, a time, a size, a shape, a number, on you goal. Keep stripping back your goal until the bare bones of it are clear to see. Make your goal so specific that there is no question of ambiguity, misunderstanding or confusion. Define your goal, give it specific numbers, and give it a time line.
For example: “I will lose 10 pounds in two months by running on a treadmill for half an hour six days a week”.
You must understand what ‘success’ means to you. A goal doesn’t have to be huge to be valuable, small goals are worth working on too, because they can lead to big changes. Your final goal or destination may feel out of reach right now, so it’s vital that you start to identify the smaller goals along the way, that will take you in the right direction.
It’s often known as chunking – breaking the big goal into smaller, manageable chunks. They say the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Your goal may be ambitious, and will be achieved by taking a series of steps, every day, towards that goal. Remember, a single footstep will not take you to your goal.
Set your goal, accept that it might not be a straight line to get there, and don’t obsess about the route that you’ll be taking. Work out your own time line, the immediacy of these goals, and then break them down into many smaller ones along the way. Setting a specific goal is really helpful to focus your mind.
For some people, it’s hard to see ahead, beyond tomorrow. I have found that once my specific goal is set, that goal planning backwards, is often better than goal planning forwards. So, as hindsight is always easier than foresight, it can work well to work backwards from the future. Look at the end result, where you want to be, and start to work back from that. You will start to see the steps you need to make, to take to get where you’re going.
So what does your goal look like? Can you clearly define it, and do you know how you will achieve it? And by when? Understand what you want, what it looks like and why you want it. Begin with the end in mind. You could say that all things are created twice, once in your mind, and once when it becomes reality.
Whether you are building a house, planning a holiday, planting a garden or going to the supermarket you will imagine or plan the event first, and then make it happen in reality. You are the creator, the author, of getting what you want. I am a big believer in dreaming big with goals that stretch you.
Stretch goals are often viewed as truly important sources of individual and organisational motivation and achievement. What CEO hasn’t dreamed of transforming their company by achieving seemingly impossible goals? We’re not talking about merely challenging goals. We’re talking about management moon shots, goals that appear unattainable given current practices, skills, and knowledge.
So be really clear about your goal. Will it stretch you? What is it, how long will it take, and what are the smaller goals you will need to achieve along the way? Give this goal as much detail as you can.
And then, the most important bit, you’ll need to start imagining it as a real thing, you’ll need to start imagining it being real, in your mind. The brain is a very complex thing, but if you imagine something over and over your brain you can trick you into thinking you have actually done it, that it has actually happened. It’s almost as if you can trick yourself into believing what’s possible, by imagining it in your mind.
Visualising you goal will bring it life and make it feel real.
So to sum up:
- Define your goal with specifics – Vague and foggy will not help you – you will miss the mark too often
- Chuck down the goal into a series of short term goals – if it helps, work backwards from your goal to now
- Plan ahead and anticipate obstacles that might throw you off your path
- Track your progress – collect data as evidence you are on the right track
- Believe it will happen and regularly visualise your successful outcome (if you can see it in your mind it is far more likely to happen in reality)
- Give yourself rewards as you hit certain goals
- Remind yourself why you are doing this, and even write a note to yourself describing how you will feel when your goal has been achieved (it’s a great thing to refer to, to keep you motivated)
- Reflect often on what you have achieved and bask in the glory
- Now take action – your goal will remain a dream until you start to act
So, start by taking action right now.