Setting goals that work

Anél Jacobs
Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality. Top-level athletes, successful businesspeople and other top achievers all set goals.

Do you set goals for yourself? Or have you given up on the idea?

In this blogpost, we take a look at the benefits of goal setting and how to set goals that work for you.

Why set goals?

In setting goals, we visualise the future that we want. This benefits us in the following ways:

  • Goals help us define and focus on what we want to accomplish.
  • Goals give us direction and help us plan and prioritise.
  • Goals assist us in our decision-making – it gives us criteria to evaluate options against.
  • Goals stretch us, thereby helping us grow.
  • Goals serve as motivation – it gives us a sense of control, as well as a sense of accomplishment when we achieve these goals.

How do I set goals that work?

Often, we abandon goal setting as a useless exercise when our goals do not lead to these benefits. It is, however, not goal setting itself that is failing us, but rather the way in which we set our goals. Here are our tips for setting goals that work:

  • Set goals that motivate you and that are priorities for you. We’ll never succeed by chasing someone else’s dream or definition of success. Know why you want to do what you are setting out to do.
  • Be very specific about what it is that you want to see happening. For example, what would “live a healthier life” look like? Would it include weight loss? Would it include fitness? Would it include an eating plan? Would it include a more balanced life? Be very clear about what it is that you truly want.
  • Ensure that you can measure your goal. If you cannot measure it, how will you know that you’ve attained it? You have to be able to “tick it off” to reap the motivational benefit of a sense of accomplishment.
  • Set goals that stretch you, but that are also realistic. Goals are a lot like playing the violin. If the instrument is not strung tight enough, it won’t make beautiful music; but if you string it too tightly, the strings can snap. In the same way, goals should stretch us – but we should also believe that we can achieve it, otherwise we’ll just give up on our goals.
  • Pen it down! Writing our goals down and keeping it in a prominent place, serve as a continuous reminder and a reference.
  • Share it! Select an “accountability buddy” – someone whom you trust and who will motivate you, but who will also hold you accountable for chasing your goals.
  • Have a plan. A goal without a plan, is merely a dream. Write down how you will achieve your goal and, specifically, what your first step will be. Enable yourself to get started on the road towards your goals!

Seth Godin said, “The people who get things done, who lead, who grow and who make an impact … those people have goals.”

So go ahead – use these tips to set one goal that has meaning for you, today. And experience the value of goal setting for yourself!

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