I think it’s safe to say that everyone has a least one goal in life that they would like to achieve. Most people in fact have a number of goals that they would like to make a reality. Why then are many people no closer to achieving their goals, year after year?
Simply having a goal is not enough. As well as knowing what you’re aiming for, you must also take action.
People who like to “go with the flow” can find goal setting too rigid and formal; however without it, they find themselves drifting through life, wondering why nothing ever changes or nothing seems to work in their favour.
Without a goal, life doesn’t know what you want and therefore can find it difficult to work in harmony with you.
Once you are clear on your goals, it is not enough to have them in your mind, you must write them down. Writing your goals down is the first step in committing to making your goals a reality. Goals give you more focus and enable you to plan and organize your resources and your time, increasing the chances of making your goals happen.
If you work in the corporate environment, then you will be no stranger to goal setting because the corporate world is goal oriented. Whatever your role, every day the actions you take will be working towards a pre-determined outcome, which could be a financial goal, a process improvement or a new product.
In fact, goals are so important in business, that any responsible company will have a system in place for regular progress reviews with employees, as well as annual appraisals. If you are not meeting your targets or goals, the company does not meet theirs and therefore they do not make money.
Every day we go to work, and we don’t think twice about setting and working towards specific goals with even more specific deadlines. We may grumble when appraisal time comes around, but we still go through the process and spend the rest of the year working towards the goals agreed.
Despite this, so few people do the same in their own life. Are your own goals less important than your employer’s goals?
Imagine your personal goals were on your appraisal, what would you do differently? If you thought about your goals in the same way as a product or project launch you were working on, what milestones would you have?
Often, the goals and aspirations we have are too abstract and therefore we become frustrated and sometimes even quit before we achieve them. Your approach to your personal goals should be the same as the goal setting process followed in successful projects. Your goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (have a completion date).
To get you started, answer the following five questions:
What is your long term goal?
Be specific, so you will absolutely know when you’ve achieve it. Describe exactly how the desired outcome will look and feel.
What is your deadline for achieving your goal?
Be realistic. Once you have set a deadline, work backwards from that date and identify what you need to do and by when, to make it happen. This will give you a good indication of whether or not your desired completion date is achievable. A common mistake many of us make is to hugely underestimate how much time things take as well as forgetting to allow time for unexpected interruptions and distractions.
What short term actions can take?
Set milestones. Identify the smaller steps you need to take to move you in the direction of your overall long term goal.
What risks need to be considered?
Expect the unexpected. It is good to be optimistic, however as you know, life is unpredictable. Consider all possible challenges and obstacles that could arise and anything that could go wrong.
What contingency can you put in place?
Hope for the best, plan for the worst. Risks, obstacles and challenges are not a reason to give up, however if you don’t plan for them and they arise, it can knock you to the core and make it near impossible to regain your focus and momentum. Having a contingency plan, or at least considering how you would manage anything that doesn’t quite go to plan, will make it easier to get back on track.
When planning your goals, remember to factor in your existing responsibilities and commitments such as family considerations, health and fitness, current employment, hobbies, etc.
Having a goal will direct your efforts, however only taking consistent action will see your efforts result in the realisation of your goal.
What goal setting actions do you need to take to achieve your personal goals?
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” ~ Confucius
Leanne Lindsey loves inspiring, motivating and empowering women who have had enough of feeling demotivated, fed up and unfulfilled to create a career and life they love. She is a Career and Lifestyle Fulfilment Coach and author of Get A Career & Life You Love, who has experienced redundancy, a complete career change, starting a small business and as a result is enjoying what she calls “the sweetness of life”.
Through 1-1 coaching, workshops and writing, Leanne works predominantly with women who are considering a career change or craving a more fulfilled life, to identify any limiting beliefs, find inspiration, get creative, explore their options, rediscover their purpose and develop a plan for living a more meaningful life, full of happiness, joy, peace and abundance.