How to Set Your Goals
You know that goal setting is very important. It helps you stay focused, keeps your productive, and you feel great when you achieve your goals. But if you've never set goals, or if you've set a lot of goals and haven't achieved them, setting goals can seem really overwhelming.
It should not be hard to set goals. It does require thought and effort, but it's not hard. You may need to set aside several hours or even a whole day to think about things and start solidifying some goals.
Start when you have some time to think. It's good to begin by thinking about where you are in your life. This isn't really the time to think about your regrets and mistakes – or where you could have been if you hadn't made those mistakes. This is the time to think just about where you are now. It's a time to “take stock of the situation.”
Now that you've considered your situation, think about how you'd like to change that. Where would you like to be in your life next year? How about five years from now? What about ten years from now? Just brainstorm some things you'd like to have. What kind of money do you want to be making? What kind of job do you want? Would you like to travel somewhere in that time? What is your home or family like?
Just write several of your goals down now. It's good to include some short term ones and some long term ones. You can include concrete goals like “I want to live in a four bedroom home in my favorite neighborhood.” You may also want to include some like “I am a happy person” which are not quite so concrete.
Now pick out a few goals that you really want to focus on. If you're unsure about things you can just start with a few. Do pick some that are more short term along with a long term one or two.
It's time to plan out your goals. Look at your goal and “work backwards.” Think about what will need to happen for you to achieve that goal. I recommend you think about three months, or ninety days in the future. Where do you need to be, three months from now, to be on-target for that goal?
What knowledge will you need to have? What steps will you need to have taken? Write these things down under your goal. Now think about what it will take to get to that point? Make a list of actionable steps. “Actionable” means it's something you can actually do that will get you one step closer to your goal.
It's OK if these steps are “easy” in the beginning. They may involve simple research. For instance, if you want to own a four bedroom home within the next two years, you may start your goal planning by listing “research how mortgages work” as an action step.
This “information gathering stage” is often a first step for goals, and it's a good thing to start with. It gives you a pretty easy way to cross something off your list as “accomplished” and know that you're making real progress.
There will be steps beyond research, however. You may know what they are right away. Sometimes you'll need to do your research and knowledge gathering before you know what you need to do next. That's OK too. Just come back to your goal sheet when you've finished your research.
Reviewing your goals every four weeks or so is a good idea. Breaking them into 4-week chunks of action steps makes it easy to accomplish your steps and stick with your goal. It also allows you to modify your plan as you work through it and learn things you didn't know about before.
Sit down and think about your goals, then develop your action steps. These steps will be the plan that takes you from where you are now to where you'd like to be – one leap forward at a time.