Tips for Setting Goals
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
This quote is the perfect example of why we should make plans for any goals we hope to achieve — without an actionable plan and accountability, it’s hard to turn a wish into something attainable. Setting goals and making plans helps give us direction and set benchmarks to see if we are on track to reach our desired outcomes.
Whether your goal is related to health and fitness, saving money, a career change, learning a craft, or anything you want to achieve, take some time to think about what you want, and why. Here are tips for setting goals to help get you to where you want to be:
Setting Goals That Matter
Goals are more than just “wants”…you may want a new dress or a cup of coffee, but goals should be bigger and, while achievable, not exactly easy. What are you passionate about? What motivates you? Achieving goals takes time and commitment, so it needs to be something that excites you and will keep you invested.
Plan the Process
Think about the goal and then work backward to define the steps to get there. For example, if you want to run a half marathon next year, how many miles will you need to be running in 10 months? In nine? What about next week? Write out the steps you’ll need to take and the timeline for each one. Breaking down the main goal into a series of smaller ones makes the process feel much more manageable and less overwhelming.
Be Specific, But Flexible
When it comes to making goals, many people use SMART goals in both business and their professional life.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive. They break down like this:
- Specific: Be clear about exactly what you want
- Measurable: How do you know when you’ve achieved the goal?
- Attainable: Your goal can be challenging, but it must be possible
- Relevant: Make sure your goal is important to you and aligns with your other goals
- Time: Give yourself a timeline for achieving the goal, and for completing each step that gets you there
While it’s important to think about your goals in all these terms, also give yourself some flexibility to refine as needed.
Evaluate & Refine
Make sure to schedule time to reflect on how everything is going. Ask yourself questions like:
- What obstacles have gotten in my way, and what can I do to avoid them going forward?
- How does this feel, am I still passionate about the goal?
- Is there anything I should change to make it more attainable?
Don’t be afraid to deviate from the original plan and modify it to work for your life — sometimes taking the wrong road helps you realize there’s a better way to get where you’re going!
Talk to friends or family about your goals, and invite them to check in and ask you how you’re doing. Having someone to answer to can help you stay motivated. Even better, find someone else with a goal of their own and act as a support group for each other.
If things aren’t progressing along your ideal timeline, don’t get discouraged. As long as your goal is still something you want to achieve, stick with it, no matter how long it takes!