Have you ever felt you are living a life with no real idea what you really want to do? Or maybe you do have a list of goals that you wish to fulfill but as time goes by, it does not seems so important anymore or you just do not have the motivation to accomplish it.
Setting goals has always been an important part of my life. I believe if you want your day to be meaningful, set your goals, and work each day towards it.
Goals are motivators. If you want to achieve any particular thing in your future; set your goals now and start planning. It is the first step in building your future.
Time goes by and we just wish our life would be different. But if you really wish things to be different you need to start acting NOW!!
One of the best things about goal setting is that there is no best time for doing it. 2020 would be a memorable year. We did acknowledge that the most precious thing we possess is our life. During the peak Covid-19 time, we tried our level best to keep us and our loved one safe. Each day we woke up with the thought that we hope we do not get into contact with the virus.
So, why waste our precious time wishing for things to happen. Let's work towards making it happen.
Why should we set goals?
All top athletes, successful businessmen, and great achievers set goals. Setting goals allow you to plan your time and resources so that you can make the most of out of your life.
Setting goals provide you short term motivation for your long term vision.
This process has provided me a sense of control. I still remember the day when I came across this quote from Grey S. Reld.
I write it on the front page of all my "productivity" diaries so that I remember why I started setting goals.
My goal-setting process
Setting goals boost our self-confidence but it can also damage our confidence if the goal is unrealistic.
There are 4 key points that I consider when I am writing my goals:
They should be realistic both in nature and in time. They should be "SMART".
For example, one of my goals is to increase my general fitness level by the end of April 2021(Long term goal). Therefore, I will go to the gym three times ( 3 specific days) per week at 4 pm.
I have specific days and times which I have planned to go to the gym. Going to the gym is attainable & realistic and I have a deadline by when I want to reach my goal.
I will be able to measure my progress through my weekly achievements and the positive changes in my fitness level.
I categories my goals. So that when I am setting my goals I can have a balanced coverage of the important areas of my life.
I normally categories them into - Career, Relationship, Financial, and Personal.
I have created a goal-setting planner(Click to download) for you to facilitate your planning process.
Career comprises of all the things I want to achieve which are related to work and income.
Relationships include activities that are related to my family and friends. You can also include your colleagues.
For instant, one of my goals is to spend more quality time with my husband by doing tasks together. We normally do gardening together. We find it therapeutic.
Financial is related to the activities we want to do to boost our finances. Whether it is a side-business or an investment.
My personal goal is related to activities I want to do, places I want to visit, health & fitness goals, and personal development goals. It is up to you what you want to include in your personal goal list.
I reflect on my last 5 years.
I usually start by reflecting on my big achievement or failures in the last five years. I wrote those major events in a list format. This gives me an overview of what has happened in my past so that I can use my present to create my future.
An example can be :
2017: Bachelor's degree completed
2018: Fulltime Job as HR officer
2019: New Car
2020: Masters' Degree Started
2021: Promotion !!!!
Based on the assessment of the last 5 years performance, I will adapt my new goals.
I note down in which category I have performed well and in which I have not been able to give my best.
I also take into consideration the reasons I have not been able to reach my goals. These reflections will help me to better plan my goals.
I write down the bigger picture.
Based on these reflections, I write what I want to achieve in the next 5 years. These goals are normally in bullet points.
An example of the bigger picture goals can be :
Start a gratitude journal
Visit 5 new countries
Volunteer in 2 non-profit organizations.
Have a minimalistic lifestyle
Move to another state.
Buy my first house
Similar to the previous exercise, try to fit these bigger picture goals in the five next years. You may decide to start a gratitude journal, change your career, invest in the stock exchanges, and visit 1 new country in 2022 and move to another state in 2023, etc.
Even if buying a new house seems difficult in the next five years, you can start saving for the new house or start considering investment plans.
Now you know what you have done in the last 5 years and what your next five years are going to look like.
I want you to dream and plan how to achieve those dreams. Sometimes, we feel that our dreams are too big and we can't achieve it. Your dreams' fulfillment is related to how committed you are. Also, the clarity and complexity of your goals are also important.
Your dreams/goals should not be ambiguous, can be challenging but yet attainable. It should be clear and precise so that you can easily list down the steps towards those goals.
How to achieve your goals?
At this stage, you should have:
The list of major events that have happened in the last 5 years.
A checklist of what categories you have performed better in the last 5 years with some reasons in mind why you were unable to achieve some goals.
A list of your items that fall into the 4 goals categories ( Career, Financial, Personal, and Relationships ).
Your next 5 years goals/dreams.
Your goal's alignment to the corresponding year which you think is feasible.
Half part of the work is done. Setting goals are easy but planning and sticking to it is the challenging part.
If you have decided to start a gratitude journal (personal goal), invest in the stock exchange (Financial goal), change your career (career goal), and visit a new country this year (Relationship or personal goal).
You need to plan your year in accordance with the 4 goals you have set. I normally set my goals in all 4 categories.
Note: you may have more than 4, fewer or more goals. You should take into consideration your schedule if there is any major event in that year or you have the resources to put those goals into action.
So, you got 1 year to accomplish those goals. You set your deadlines.
If you want to change your career change goal by September 2021, you need to start planning the steps how you wish to do that.
What will you do each month, each week, or each day toward that goal (Career change)?
Do the same steps for each goal.
At the end of each week and month, analyze your performance. Do you need to change your strategy? Do you need to make any changes?
On a quarterly basis, I would like you to make a review. Your situation may change, or perhaps you do not feel the need for a career change any more. Then you can adapt your planning to your new goal.
Depending on the nature of your goal, you may wish to work towards all the goals for your year at the same time.
If you feel you have not performed as you should, try to find the root cause of the problem. Do not accept "I am not good enough" as a reason. You have unlimited potential.
Measure your goals
Measuring your goal helps you to make improvements. It is another key factor in making progress. When you measure, track, and review you have an insight into your performance and if whether you are making progress or not.
Keeping track of your water intake helps you to stay motivated in staying healthy.
Recording your repetitions and sets during your workout helps you to know whether you are making progress during your workout session.
I prefer to do a weekly, monthly, and quarterly review of my goals.
If you have a partner, it is very important you take into consideration whether his/her goals are in alignment with yours if it requires inputs from both of you.
You may wish to shift to a new house by next month but your partner planned to do so in the 3 months. Communicating with your partner is important.
The goal-setting process requires some planning and time management skills.
Time management can be one of the reasons why most people are not able to stick to their planning or goal. Be honest with yourself. If you need to rework your planning or time management skills, so it be.
Discipline is key. If you do not stick to your planning, you can't expect your goals to accomplish as you planned.
Make your plans "SMART", if how, when, and where details are attached to your planning, you are more likely to stick to your goals.
Stack your habits.
After I finish my morning tea, I will meditate. You are more likely to meditate after your morning tea.
Do not limit yourself to the lower bound of your habits. Most people say I want to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. If you can do more, do it.
Rather than saying I want to exercise for at least 30 minutes, it is better to say I want to exercise for at least 30 minutes, but not more than 45 minutes.
The upper bound acts as a motivator, especially when you have just started a new habit. The extra effort will make you stick to your habit better. Then, your goal becomes more sustainable.
Align your environment with your new goal. If your goal is to stop eating junk foods, if you buy junk foods, you are most likely to eat them as a default habit.
You can use your default action habit by creating good habits, keeping a water bottle near your desk makes you more likely to consume the water.
You may find the goal-setting process to be lengthy and time-consuming but it worth all the effort. Take the time to invest in good planning and use apps to set manage your planning.
I use several apps to manage my planning system, some of my favorite are Google Calendar, Microsoft to do, Keeps notes, and Google tasks. I prefer applications that I can use both on my mobile and desktop computer.
I hope this article has motivated you plan your year!
Download our Free Goal Setting Planner here.
Last updated: 23 January 2022