Setting and achieving goals is a fundamental part of the business or personal life of any person, anywhere. At the heart of this is just what a goal is, how it can be achieved, and why they are worth pursuing.
While there are many grades of goals (e.g., “must have”, “aim for”, “achieve”), this article focuses on the basic rules you should follow to get it done right: How do you know where you are going? How do you know where to go? Do a little bit of research? What do you want? What will get you there? Where will you be when you get there? How much is it going to cost to get there? How long will it take to get there? What if it doesn’t happen as planned?
It also dives into some common pitfalls that must be avoided in order to set and achieve your goals properly.
It’s a huge topic — so I hope that this guide helps with that as well. Perhaps more importantly: hopefully it helps with getting your first goal done right and moving on to setting larger ones now that you understand the principles guiding them.
The SMART method of goal setting
The SMART method of goal setting is well known in the business world. It was originally conceived by Donald O. Hebb and introduced to the world by his son, Timothy Hebb (a neurosurgeon) in a lecture at Stanford University in 1957. The key idea behind it is that you should break your goals into several smaller ones, rather than trying to set one big goal.
The basic idea is that there are simple steps to goal-setting:
Identify your goals
This is an extremely important first step in goal setting. You need to be clear about what you want and how you want it, and be sure that it’s something you can accomplish by whatever means necessary (if possible), or else the whole exercise will be a waste of time. Your goal should be very specific: start with one word and then add more words as you go along until you have a specific, measurable goal like “Most purchases” or “Buy a kneeling chair for my home office this month” or “Stay out of debt for 2 months,” etc.
Feel free to use as many words as you feel comfortable with — but don’t try to squeeze too much meaning into your first sentence before you get somewhere closer to your target, because it will just make things harder for yourself later when you need to translate the language of your desires into actionable goals (explained below).
List all possible ways of achieving your goals
Once the first step has been completed, the next step comes up — listing all possible ways in which you could achieve your goals — or at least those that are not ruled out outright such as “BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT”.
Analyse each possibility together with its pros & cons and find the most likely way(s) that could achieve your goals while minimising risk/cost/time/effort/etc.
Setting goals in different areas of your life
Setting goals is an essential life skill. It helps you to focus your energy on more important tasks, and makes you a more effective worker. Setting goals can be as simple as deciding how much time you want to spend on different activities. By setting more specific goals that are easily achieved, you can improve the quality of your life, and make it easier to set new goals in the future.
There are two different kinds of setting goals: personal and professional. The best way to set personal goals is by setting them in areas that matter to you most — for example, in your career, or at work; and if possible, in areas that have the potential for great personal growth — for example, health and fitness or education.
In fact, this is also a good way of setting long-term personal goals that you’ll need to achieve over many years: by creating recurring challenges (“I will write this book”) or challenges that must be met before certain milestones (“I will do this yearly task within a month”).
Personal goal setting is a powerful tool because it works both ways: it gives you clarity on what matters most to you and helps motivate you towards achieving these values.
On the other hand, professional goal setting is used primarily by people who are either starting companies or who want their careers to lead towards something greater than just their current job.
It has deeper meaning than just what they do at work – they want to make a difference with their work – so they set out specific targets for themselves that they know they can achieve if they keep with them throughout their careers (and don’t forget about the external forces which may get in the way).
Almost any area of your life can be used as a basis for personal goal setting: health & fitness; relationships; career & work; hobbies & leisure; self-improvement & self-development; money management; friendships & social life.
We wanted to make sure we covered all aspects of setting goals so that people could use whichever one works best for them but also so that people wouldn’t get overwhelmed trying too hard at something new!
Overcoming obstacles to achieving your goals
Goals are the number one driver of productivity and happiness. Goals guide actions, and actions can in turn be the driving force behind productivity and happiness.
Here’s a very basic example: imagine you are setting your work to be done Monday through Friday, at 9am. You set this as a goal because that is the time when you get most of the work done in your day.
It’s easy to see why this is a good goal for you, but if you look at how many people do that kind of work, it’s not obvious why it’s such a good goal for them either. In fact, it turns out that most people have this kind of goal because they think they need to do more than just 9am to accomplish their goals; they think they need to do more than 9am every day.
Likewise, goals help us with our personal life too: if we know we have only one chance to make something happen, then it helps us focus on getting it right rather than getting overwhelmed by what needs to be done. That’s why setting goals is so important — without them we would have no sense of direction in life, and without direction we can easily get lost in the endless maze of activities around us every day.
So how should we set goals? There are several ways (see also) but here are two popular ones:
The old-fashioned “set a project goal” method (I love this method since I first heard about it from Peter Drucker) — set an actionable goal for yourself along with some measurable objectives along with how long each objective should take (e.g., “I want x amount of work done per week on my blog by week 5″ or “by the end of this month I will know differences between US English and International English”).
The net result is that you will use your time better and more effectively by being more specific with your objectives; when you push yourself harder on your goals, it becomes easier to achieve them (e.g., someone has said that if I had known what my writing style was going to be before I started writing I would never have written as good a paragraph as I did); and this makes it easier for you to maintain control over yourself — which leads nicely into another important component:
The benefits of achieving your goals
In life, we could all agree that setting and achieving our goals is a good strategy for success. Goals allow us to focus on what we are doing, what will be important in the future, and how to achieve our objectives. It’s also an excellent way to keep us honest about our true abilities.
There are two important facts about goal setting:
1. Setting and achieving your goals is a personal choice. You can decide to set your own goals or you can choose those set by others; however, it is a good idea to choose goals which fit your personality or profession (e.g., salespeople should not have to work on weekends).
2. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for goal setting (though there are some general rules). As with anyone else, start with what you know best — i.e., yourself — and then add in inspiration from others when needed.
A summary of the importance of goal setting and how it can help you achieve success in all areas of your life.
It is quite true that a lot of people fail to achieve their goals. The most common reason for this failure is that they set unrealistic goals. And trying to achieve those goals just requires too much time, energy and money.
These are the reasons why goal setting is so important:
1. Set realistic goals: You have to set reasonable goals that are achievable, attainable and achievable for you, your family and friends. If you don’t set reasonable goals, you may feel frustrated by all the barriers that appear in your way and be tempted to give up.
2. Set realistic timelines: If you don’t have a clear timeline on how long it will take to accomplish the goal, it’s almost impossible to do it in one go even if you try hard enough (which probably won’t happen anyway). This means there is a possibility of failing and wasting a lot of time while failing to do any good at all.
3. Set realistic targets: It can be difficult to know what is achievable since there are lots of factors that can affect its outcome – such as your age/sex/health status/family situation etc.. Setting realistic targets helps ensure you reach your objective within the timeframe specified by yourself or by others (a family member or friend who knows about your life). You might also need help from others (for example, doctors, coaches etc.) which would help with setting targets for achieving certain outcomes .
4 . Manage expectations well: It’s very difficult for people to say “I’ll make this goal,” when they don’t know how long it will take or if they’ll be able to achieve it at all. But being able to say “I will make this goal within X amount of time” or “I’m going to achieve X amount of money within A period” is much more convincing than saying “I’ll only make X amount of money today” or “There’s no way I can do this today”. This allows people who want something more than just a small sum of money now or an extended deadline (such as extra holidays) more confident in themselves than saying “I don’t have any more money; I’d better accept it”.
5 . Make sure you have a plan B and C: Sometimes failure happens when something unexpected occurs beyond our control; we’re not prepared for it; we’re not ready for it. Planning for these unexpected events helps us avoid them happening again during the same period when planning will force us