Goal-setting is one of the essential traits of successful leaders and careers. However, as there are so many different approaches and philosophies behind achieving goals, it can be difficult to decide how best to pursue your dreams after you’ve established what you want to accomplish.
To find out what works, we consulted members of Young Entrepreneur Council in order to find out the best ways to create plans for both the short and long term. Here’s what they said, as well as why each approach helps:
1. Say It Out Loud
There is one great tactic I use to help keep my goals. When you tell other people your goals, it helps create accountability. When you see those people in the future they may ask about your goals or they may watch what you are then doing on social media and in your work. Knowing the “world” is watching, you may just keep your word to others if you had trouble keeping it to yourself.
2. Factor in Your ‘Why’
Many are familiar with the popular “SMART” goals system, which allows for traction and delivers results. But many people forget to factor “why” into their goal-setting. A strong sense of purpose and an answer for why your company is pursuing its goals can provide incredible momentum and inspire your team to consistently deliver and exceed expectations.
3. Connect Goals to Your Core Values
Connecting your goals to your core values will help you stay true to your goals. Your core values are what form the underlying structure of your habits, desires and processes. Ask yourself what you want from life. The answer to this question will help you identify what you value and will help expose how you’re wasting time/money on things that aren’t helping you accomplish your goals.
4. Consider Alignment With Those Around You
When creating my near- and long-term goals, I think about how my goals align with and impact the people around me, like my family and colleagues. I find this exercise helpful because it’s a reminder to focus on the big picture. Accomplishing something for myself is nice, but reaching a personal goal that can also make a positive difference in the lives of people around me is much more powerful.
5. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
When planning near- and long-term goals, keep quality over quantity in mind. Instead of creating a long list of goals you may never be able to reach, choose a few goals that excite you and are important to you. After you accomplish those three to four goals, you can always come up with new ones. Keeping your goal list short will help you better manage and complete them.
6. Consider the Life You Want to Have
People should always consider the quality of life they want to have. Considering this will encourage people to not make impulsive decisions that may be enticing but not beneficial to a person’s quality of life. Every decision a person makes will impact your quality of life short and long term, no matter how small those decisions may be.
7. Be Specific
It’s not enough to say you want to start your own business within the next couple of years. The key to reaching your goals faster is by getting as specific as you can with them, because this gives you a time frame to work with. Set up a deadline, exactly what it is you want to achieve, and how you’re going to do it.
8. Write Down Your Goals
Writing down your near- and long-term goals will help you better organize them and it will also make them seem more real. By writing them down I mean actually get out a piece of paper and write them down. There’s something about pen and paper and the act of writing that sets your goals in motion more so than typing them up on a computer or just keeping them in your head. Then, look at that paper every day.
9. Write Down the Outcomes
Instead of focusing just on the goals, which often tend to be something like “finishing writing my book by the end of Q3,” write down the desired outcome as well, and keep them in the same place. It will help you remember why you set out to do these things in the first place and help with actually committing to your goals.
10. Break Your Goals Into Milestones
The key to achieving goals is to understand what steps need to be taken over time in order to achieve your desired outcome. For instance, if you want to lose 24 lbs over the next 12 months, it will be much easier to do so by setting monthly weight-loss goals of two pounds. By breaking goals into milestones, you will increase the odds of success, while better managing expectations for success.
11. Create a Time Frame
If you’re planning for long- and short-term goals, you have to go beyond these generic terms if you want to ensure your success. Instead of a “short-term” goal, create quarterly goals with three-month deadlines. Long-term goals have a little more flexibility, and the time you assign these goals can vary based on project size and scale.