How to Set Goals

The Bigger Picture

Now, try to imagine the success you wish to achieve in your life in the distant future e.g. the next 10 years. You could either describe this picture by writing, talking about it or even watching videos of people whose success you wish to emulate.

The next step is to further refine the details of this success by including the details into the picture or description you have just created. The more specific, the better. These might be the ‘stepping stones’ or the smaller goals to determine how you can reach the ‘bigger picture’ type of success.

Now that you have a rough idea of the success you wish to achieve in the future, it is time to set goals by writing them down or recording them in other ways.

Set Goals that Motivate You Part 1

Goals with motivational elements, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, are the best reasons we can give ourselves to thrive in life. Passion, commitment, sense of urgency, enthusiasm, creativity and many other positive traits are products of goals which motivate us. Nevertheless, some of us have had the problems of having too many goals which we were passionate about. When we reach the end of working towards too many goals, we would have drained all our energy out but we achieve very minimal of these goals.

Therefore, before we set out to our tireless work towards our exhilarating cause, we must decide the winner(s) of this ‘goal competition’.

The Goal Competition

So how do we score in this competition? Firstly, we must understand that some goals may prevent us from reaching the others regardless of how obsessive we are. Some goals may take us longer time to achieve the ‘bigger picture’ even if they are the easiest to achieve compared to others. Meanwhile some goals must be achieved first before we proceed to the next goals (discussed in chapter 2, pg. ) Do we prioritise the most motivating goal or start with the easiest ones? How about those which are more rewarding but takes a longer time to achieve?

Setting Goals

While the answers to such questions are subject to every individual’s preferences and strategies, they are the questions we have to answer during the stage of goal setting.

In short, the goals are basically competing with one another to be our priorities. We score the goal of this competition by deciding the winner(s) of this competition and then we could understand which goal we should first concentrate on. This will save us from exhaustion, vain efforts, lack of focus, energy, emotions and most importantly, our motivations to continue our work on the future goals.

While we can decide to adjust the level of priorities on each goal, at least, we can anticipate the outcomes of our actions better from the beginning.

Set Goals that Motivate You Part 2

What makes these ‘winner’ goals unique from other goals? We find the deepest meanings in these goals which we are willing to devote our time and resources to. They are not only the ‘winners’ of the goal competition but they are also our ‘motivators’.

In our quest to accomplish these goals, we will be tempted to set new goals and try to accomplish them. However, goals which truly motivate us will withstand the competition from other new goals and we will be dedicated to finish these goals before the new ones.

In other circumstances, our efforts on long term goals will be further justified with rewards for our motivation. This further fuels our motivation for the next goals.

To reinforce the motivation which we first found in the goals we have decided to work on, we should write down why it’s meaningful, important and valuable to us. Then, we can ask ourselves, “How do I convince other people that these goals are worth my effort, time and resources?”

The answer to this question will form the deep meanings and become the motivation for us to carry on despite our doubts and our diminishing confidence in our struggles to achieve the goals. It is the best reminder of our promise to commit ourselves to the cause.

Set Goals which are S.M.A.R.T.

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound goals are goals which we refine based on the ‘winner’ goals from the goal competition before finalising our goals. In such way, our meaningful and motivating goals will not be only temporary passion without concrete planning then.

Specific goals

Goals which are not clearly defined will not lead us to our desired destinations in life. If the goals are our destinations but we cannot specify them, we will probably lose our directions during our work even if we are presented with multiple methods to achieve our goals. As mentioned in this chapter and also the previous one, we will waste a lot of resources if we do not have conviction in the specificity of our goals. Remember, goals show us the way so we must spell out every single detail to get us to where we want.

Measurable Goals

Goals which are immeasurable are those which are vaguely defined and hence, we will not be able to track our progress. Quantifying both our progress and goals and then comparing both can indicate our performance and success rate. Such indication could also be used as analysis for further improvements in our performance.

Body weight management programs, budgeting, running distance and time, building construction and many other goals have are made up of absolute quantifications. Using measurements of results, we can tell how much we have improved or progressed and we won’t even miss the celebration without knowing we have achieved certain goals!

Attainable Goals

Setting goals which are realistically possible to achieve means building more success on top of another. In contrast, working on goals which are impossible or too challenging to achieve will only break our perseverance and determination in the long term. We will surely lose motivation if we cannot achieve any rewards we wish for despite our best efforts.

In spite of such idea, we should always resist the appeal of setting goals that are too easy to accomplish. This is because constantly setting easy goals will generate a comfort zone for us. While we indulge in completing these easy goals, we become insensitive to our needs to improve. In the end, we are so afraid of failures and non-achievement that we will not risk setting a more challenging goal.

The particular way of setting such goals is to divide the goal into measurable upper and lower bounds. For instance, if you have reached the lower boundary of your goal, e.g. the running distance of 5 kilometres in 30 minutes, instead of running the same distance in the same amount of time, you could try to run further in 30 minutes or run the same distance in shorter time. These goals can be adjusted from time to time but in certain situations like running, we can definitely attempt at a longer distance knowing we have achieved during the run itself.

In other words, we set attainable goals to be aware of the level of difficulties and the rewards for our efforts. We have to adjust the levels of difficulties to our preferences so as not to fall into our comfort zone or feel de-motivated in the future.

Relevant Goals

Concentrating on relevant goals does not only save us from unnecessary venture into other distractions. It also allows us to practise our best skills, expand our knowledge in particular subject and gain invaluable experience for future growth.

It sometimes can be difficult for us to separate the goals which we are very eager to accomplish from the ones which we feel are relevant and beneficial to our future. Therefore, it is a primary yet very essential step to ensure our goals are constantly relevant.

Time- bound goals

Deadlines, time limits or even day by day progress are some of the measures we can set for ourselves to ensure progress. Besides, setting goals with a certain time frame will help us anticipate delays and prevent any unnecessary delays.

Without such sense of timing, there will be less or no urgency for us to complete even the easiest tasks. As such, our commitment will dwindle and we might even start to get comfortable with procrastinating work.

Thus, we must always remind ourselves of the expected development in the timeline we have set for our dreams to come true.

Writing Your Goals and Keeping Up

Now that we have understood all the S.M.A.R.T goal setting concepts, we must not forget that we have to write our goals down and set reminders. To get these reminders to be more effective, we can set them on our phones or even place sticky notes in places like our work desk, on the refrigerator with the magnets or even on our TV.