Personal goal setting is one of the best things you can do if you truly desire to be successful in life. Sadly, only a small percentage of people actually make goals for themselves regularly. But those are the most successful people you will meet!
Following are eight tips to help you use personal goal setting to achieve those things that are truly important to you.
1. Put your goals in writing – this will solidify them and make them very real. It also is the first step, and taking action is a key factor in reaching your goals. Writing them down also makes them more real. Unwritten goals with no game plan are really nothing more than wishes. And wishes don’t get you very far – but written goals will!
2. Prioritize them – When it comes to personal goal setting, it is essential that you prioritize your goals. Decide which ones are the most crucial for you to achieve. Those are the ones on which you want to devote the most energy. Those that end up at the bottom of your list may not be truly important to you, and they can be addressed at a later date in time if needed.
3. Write your goals down as positive statements. For example, rather than “lose 20 pounds” or “stop overeating”, you might write “reach the healthy weight of ____ pounds” or “eat only until I’m satisfied”.
4. Make your goals very clear and specific. With personal goal setting, if your goals are vague, you won’t likely succeed because you’re not really aiming at anything specific. An “iffy” goal is like throwing darts blind-folded (which I don’t recommend!). You might, by chance, hit the dart board but it is highly unlikely. Vague goals would be things such as “lose weight” or “make more money”.
Make them more specific; for example “make $10,000 per month”. That way you can measure process and you will know exactly when you have reached your goal. (After all, “make more money” could mean that you’re earning $5 more per month – which probably isn’t what you are striving for – right?)
5. Create specific timelines for reaching each of your goals. Not having a clear time frame in mind is very similar to having vague goals – you may never reach it because you take forever getting there. Creating a timeline gives you a sense of urgency, and will help spur motivation. Urgency and motivation are two important factors in personal goal setting.
6. Make sure your goals (and timelines) are realistic. For example, if you weight 250 pounds and your goal is to reach 150 pounds, you probably want to give yourself more than a month or two to reach your goal! Unrealistic goals and timelines are a quick path to failure when it comes to personal goal setting.
A note of caution here: there’s a delicate balance between being realistic and keeping your dreams alive. No one believed the 4 minute mile barrier could be broken – until Roger Bannister showed everyone that it could. And soon after his victory several people began running the mile in less than 4 minutes – most likely because now they believed it was possible.
So, go ahead and dream big – dreams are what make us feel alive and can fuel us with the motivation to achieve what may have seemed impossible (or what others tell us is impossible).
7. Break big goals down into multiple smaller, more doable goals. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by a really big goal. It may seem absolutely impossible – until your break it down into small steps. This is very important when it comes to personal goal setting!
For instance, if you’re just starting college and your goal is to become a surgeon, you may quickly become discouraged at the very long road ahead. However, if you break it down into sub goals (and then sub goals for those sub goals), the task won’t seem so daunting and you will be more likely to succeed.
8. Reward yourself when you achieve a goal (or sub goal). It is important that you acknowledge and reward your successes along the way, as success breeds more success. Treat yourself to something nice. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. But it is important that you celebrate each success along the way. You will be more likely to remain motivated and it will make the process a lot more fun!
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