The word ‘goal’ is thrown around a lot these days, so much so that it can be confusing what a goal really is. Some people may have trouble sticking to goals because they don’t distinguish their goals from more casual, everyday self-improvement efforts. Just because you decide to start running every day doesn’t necessarily make that a conscious goal. So let’s revisit what goal setting means.
Goal setting is a purposeful and explicit process that starts with identifying a new objective, skill, or project you want to achieve. Then, you make a plan for achieving it, and you work to complete it.
Here are some ways to effectively set realistic goals:
1. Write your goals down
When you write your goals down, they become real and tangible instead of a vague idea that resides only in your mind. Once you’ve written your goals down, keep them somewhere visible––put personal goals up on your mirror or near your computer screen, put team goals up on the walls next to everyone’s desks, and include company goals in internal presentations. This tactic reminds you to keep working on your goals daily. As you’re writing down your goals, use a positive tone so you stay excited about completing them.
2. Set goals that are measurable
If your goals are able to adhere to concrete criteria, you are able to measure progress towards their achievement. If you identify what you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal, you can feel as if you have accomplished something tangible. In order to achieve effective goal setting, you should break your goal down into measurable elements.
3. Set goals that are attainable
While there is nothing wrong with shooting for the stars, it is important to investigate whether the goal is really applicable to you and your lifestyle. If you don’t have the time, money or experience to achieve something, you will be setting yourself up to fail and most certainly be miserable. For the most effective goal setting, ensure you are planning your steps wisely and establishing a realistic time frame that will allow you to carry out those steps.
4. Create an action plan
Many people decide on a goal but never create an action plan to determine how exactly they will meet that goal. Your action plan should include the overall goal you’re trying to meet and all the steps you need to take to get there. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your action plan. Go back to your elementary school days and get creative. Write out your goal using crayons, markers, or coloured pencils, for example. According to Forbes, creating an action plan this way activates a different part of your brain and cements the goals in your mind.
5. Create a timeline
As part of your action plan, use a timeline maker to help visualize roles, tasks, milestones, and deadlines to achieve your goal. Once you’ve set those dates, try to stick to them as closely as possible. A timeline creates a sense of urgency, which in turn motivates you to stay on schedule and finish your goal.
6. Take action
Last but certainly not the least, act! Now that you’ve planned everything out, it’s time to take action. You didn’t go through all that work just to forget about your goal. Every step that you take should lead to another until you finish your goal.
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