“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
On November 17, 2003, an Austrian immigrant was sworn in as the Governor of California.
In his long and illustrious career as a bodybuilder and Hollywood movie star, he was a serial goal setter.
And he went on to achieve almost every single goal he wrote down on an index card at the beginning of every year.
That man was Arnold Schwarzenegger and he represents the power of goal setting at its finest.
From becoming the greatest bodybuilder in the world, he went on to become a millionaire at 30, an A-list Hollywood actor, and finally the Governor of California.
His biggest success strategy was his ability to set a predetermined goal with a burning desire to achieve it, and follow up with massive action until he achieved it.
Why Set Goals? Why Is It Important To Set Goals?
Unless you want to be a monk or a yogi who takes life as it comes and has no specific aim in life, you absolutely need to learn how to set goals for your life.
When you have a clear aim in life, you won’t sit and wait for your dreams and goals to come true.
You’ll go after your dreams with a steely determination because no one is going to serve success to you on a platter.
The problem is most people lack ambition and live lives of quiet desperation.
They lie to themselves that they’ll get started on that new exercise routine tomorrow.
That they will sign up for that new course next month.
That they’ll take their family on vacation next time.
More often than not, they never end up doing it.
There’s a difference between building castles in the air and having a clear goal in your mind.
Without setting goals, you’ll lack the motivation and commitment to work towards them.
What Is Goal Setting?
Goal setting is about taking a stand and deciding what you want to do with your life.
So, what DO you want to accomplish in your life? Do you have a game plan?
A study at Harvard Business School showed that people who write down their goals are more successful than those who don’t.
Two years before Bruce Lee became a movie star, he wrote down his goal to become the highest-paid Asian movie star in the USA.
The rest is history.
Don’t underestimate the importance of goal setting for students either.
If you hope to get into a top college, you need to set a goal and work towards it.
Whether you want to reach the top echelons in your corporate career or lose a few kilos and become fitter, setting a goal will massively increase your chances of success.
You’re Already a Goal-Setter!
The thing is, you’re already setting goals every day.
They may be small goals, such as planning a movie outing with your family.
Or bigger goals such as planning a vacation on your bucket list.
Personal goals examples could include deciding to lose weight, while examples of professional goals could include planning to learn new skills or start a new career.
But, every day you aspire to do something, plan it out and work towards it, you’re practising the art of goal setting, because you’re working towards a clear result with the END in mind.
Have a Clear Vision In Mind
The first step to achieve your dream goals is to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how you’ll feel when you achieve it.
Of course, you can change and fine-tune your goals as you acquire new knowledge and information. Most people do.
The next thing you need to do when deciding what aspirations in life are worth pursuing is to find your ‘Why’.
As the saying goes, “Find your ‘Why’ and the ‘How’ will follow.”
When you know the reason WHY you want something, it will become easier to figure out HOW to achieve the result you want and work towards it.
People are only willing to make changes in their lives when they have a compelling reason to do so.
Now your reasons could either be negative, which comes from desperation, or it could be positive, which comes from inspiration.
It’s best to identify with the positive reasons of why you want to achieve this goal.
And they are all the reasons that come from inspiration.
So ask yourself, “If I achieve this goal, what will it change in my life?”
Start your process of goal mapping by learning the goal-setting steps in the videos here.
Why Should You Set Challenging Goals?
Edwin Locke came up with a popular goal-setting theory that people who set difficult and specific goals perform better than those who set easy, generic goals.
This theory states that setting a difficult and specific goal gives you better results.
If you want your goals to be exciting, make them both, challenging and realistic.
When you achieve your goal, it should give you a sense of satisfaction.
And when you’ve reached your most challenging goal, you should feel an incomparable sense of achievement.
Setting goals not only gives you a strong and inimitable sense of purpose but keeps you focused on the destination rather than all the little distractions that will come your way.
What Are S.M.A.R.T Goals?
In order to understand Goal-Setting theory, you need to understand what SMART goals are.
This is what the acronym S.M.A.R.T stands for:
S – Specific: Define expectations and avoid generalities
M – Measurable: Quality, quantity, timelines and cost if involved etc.
A – Achievable: Challenging goals but should not be impossible
R – Relevant and Realistic: Linking the goal to the higher purpose/goal etc.
T – Time-Bound & Trackable: Working within a time frame creates pressure but also excitement. They must be trackable with milestones else losing track is easy.
Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. They should also be challenging, realistic and measurable.
How do you figure out the necessary goal setting steps that will help you to reach the goal?
All you need is a game plan and HSR’s SMART GOALS template to help you get there.
Examples of life goals include getting a promotion or a new job, starting a business, creating a better family life or relationship with your spouse.
5 Goal Setting Steps To Achieve Your Dream Goals
As one of your goal setting activities, you should use a goal setting worksheet with simple questions you can work on.
Follow these 5 goal setting steps while setting SMART personal goals or work goals.
Write Down Your Daily Goals
In your SMART goal setting worksheet, you’ll write down goals that are realistic and achievable.
Now, you could set long-term goals, which are anywhere from 5 years to 15 years.
Or you could set short-term goals which can be anything from 3 to 6 months to 2 to 3 years.
But, unlike what many people teach, you don’t need a long list of 100 life goals or 50 goals in life or even 5 goals in life.
My advice to you is to set short-term goals only for the next two months to a year – two work goals and two personal goals.
Don’t be intimidated by people who seem to have it all together. Who seem to be absolutely confident of their 10-year goals or long-term goals.
You don’t have to be sure or confident since no one can predict what might happen a week from now.
When you can’t see the big picture clearly, just focus on the next step.
When the macro is not clear, focus on the micro.
For example, if you don’t have a job, your goal is to get a job.
If you want to start your own business that’s exactly what you should plan for.
Don’t set a goal that seems impossible. Pick one that looks challenging and work on that for two months, three months, six months, or one year.
So if your goal is to be happy, you can measure it based on the amount of joy you feel.
If your goal is to get promoted this year ask yourself, why do I want to achieve this goal?
Is it more money, more recognition or more authority?
Who is that one person who’s going to be absolutely proud if you get promoted?
How is it going to change your lifestyle? How is going to change your emotions?
Every goal should have at least 8 to 10 powerful inspiring and compelling reasons for WHY you want to achieve this goal.
Write down these answers in your SMART goals worksheet.
Identify & Reframe Your External & Internal Barriers
Next, watch the video here and identify the external and internal barriers that could prevent you from reaching your goals.
The reason we need to internalise external barriers is that you can’t control what you don’t own or take responsibility for. That creates a victim mindset.
When you take responsibility for your external barriers, you’re in control and no longer at the mercy other people or situations. This is a more empowering way of establishing goals.
Now reframe your external barriers.
For example, if you’re feeling, “My boss doesn’t listen to me,” you can convert it into “I am unable to convince my boss” and then into “I am now able to find different ways to convince my Boss.”
Once you’ve identified the internal and the external barriers you need to learn how to reframe all the external barriers into internal ones.
Build Your Strategy
Your next step is to tackle the “HOW” of achieving your goals.
What steps will you take to set milestones and change your behaviours and habits to achieve your goals?
This part is called “STRATEGY BUILDING” and it is important.
For each and every goal and milestone, you must identify the broader strategy and specific action points.
The most important goal setting question to ask yourself is, “What am I going to do DIFFERENTLY to achieve my goals?”
Work with a Mentor or Coach
The next step is to identify a mentor or a coach who will help you formulate a powerful strategy and hold you accountable to achieve your goals.
Strategies are the broader steps that give you the big picture and action points are specific actions that can be tracked and measured.
You need to have a strategy that logically makes sense to you or your sub-conscious mind won’t buy into it.
It should also align with your beliefs, so you can genuinely believe it’s possible.
If you think hiring a mentor is too expensive, consider Bok’s Law.
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. ~ Derek Bok, president of Harvard University.
If you’re willing to pay a professional chef to cook you a gourmet meal in a restaurant, you can definitely hire a mentor, who can help you strategise your goal setting and increase your chance of success.
You can save a lot of time and money if you identify a coach who is good at goal setting and hire them to help you with your goal-setting process.
And remember, it’s not necessary that they should meet you in person.
Maintain a Goal Journal
The next step is all about sustenance.
Now that you’ve identified your goals and milestones, you should start maintaining a journal, to keep you motivated.
In your journal, make a daily record of your progress, setbacks, failures, new learning and behavioural changes.
Keep this journal with you whenever you speak to your mentor or coach.
Finally, realize that you are not born to live an ordinary life. There’s so much to learn and relearn.
Nor is it about competing with someone else, but about creating a better version of YOU.
If you enjoyed this short-term goal-setting program, read about my goal setting workshop and contact me to help you or your employees set effective and actionable goals.
Would you like some free goal setting tools to help you write down your goal setting questions and improve your goal setting skills? Download my SMART GOALS Template and get started on your journey to achieve your dream goals.