How to Set Goals
Today I realized it’s already October: wow! Time is just flying by. The next thing to realize is that it’s the holiday season and the end of another year. Another 365 days have marched on through your life. What have you done with the precious time of that year?
If you are like most people, you don’t set goals. According to the Harvard MBA Business School study on goal setting, 84 percent of the class didn’t set goals. However, the 3 percent who actually set goals, wrote them down, and had a plan to achieve them were making ten times the income of their cohorts ten years later. Another study shows only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
This statistic in itself is motivating. Actually, having a goal and writing it down increases your odds of achieving it by a lot! (Throwing in a little Jim Carrey).
Why is this? What are the important components of goal setting?
First, goal setting is a focusing mechanism. Your brain now has a target and knows what to focus on. It is now going to be seeking ways to achieve that goal and bring it to your awareness.
Here are seven components of goal setting:
- Focus on one goal at a time.
According to McChesney et al. in The 4 Disciplines of Execution (2016), it’s important to identify one wildly important goal. They suggest asking yourself what change would make the biggest impact in your business or life?
- Determine why this goal is important to you.
You want to get clear on why this is important to you. In going through this process, you might change your No. 1 goal. Ask yourself, “If this goal was met, how would it change my life, how would I feel, what would it open up for me?” Equally important is to ask yourself, “What would it feel like if I didn’t reach this goal?” Get clear on what not meeting this goal is going to cost you.
- Make your goal highly specific.
A specific goal is one for which you have a clear idea of what it looks like and when you actually achieve it. For example, “I will increase my sales from $10,000 to $20,000 by December 15, 2020.” Specific goals provide direction. Your mind can’t argue or get confused if your goal is clear.
- Write your goals down.
This is key to making them happen. Make them real and concrete. Use positive and direct language such as “I will increase . . .” It’s empowering language and you can see yourself doing it. Put your written goals in a place where you can see them and review daily.
- Create an action plan.
This is a big missing piece in most goal-setting activities. A single goal may have many tasks associated with it. Make an action plan by first brainstorming a list of tasks for completing your goal. These will give you an idea if you might need other resources or people to complete your goal. Identify tasks you can delegate to others. Develop milestone markers for your goals. For example, learning a new skill might be a milestone in your project or hiring an expert or coach.
- Schedule milestones in your calendar and track activity.
Schedule daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and milestones in your calendar. Block out time to complete each task in your calendar. This will help you to take consistent action steps every day. A goal of 50 new clients may seem overwhelming, but one new client is attainable. Keep a log of the activity you complete on a daily basis. This will help you stay focused and help you correct course if you aren’t making progress.
- Stick with it and get support.
Be persistent. Celebrate your successes along the way. Bring in an accountability buddy to help you stay on track. Review your why whenever you get discouraged. It takes courage to set goals down in writing and then keep pursuing them when things aren’t looking so good.
Managing your fears and emotions is an important component of pursuing your goals. Having someone who believes in you and can support you through the process is one of the best investments you can make. You increase your chance of achieving your goals significantly if you have someone to support you through the process.
Goal setting is a process to be done with mindfulness and discernment. I recommend you set aside a couple of hours to go through this process. It will be time well spent. You will walk away with clarity and a clear plan of how you are going to achieve your goals. This will increase your confidence and help you focus on what really matters to you.
Time is precious. It is the successful people who know this and use their time wisely.
“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” ~Theophrastus