The best and easiest way to plan out any goal is to start with the end state in mind. It’s much easier knowing exactly what you are aiming for before you sit down and figure out how you are going to get it.
Before you get too excited though, it’s also crucial to work out what you DON’T want. Sounds slightly backward, but stick with me here…
I do think its just as important to be clear about what you don’t want, what makes you unhappy, and the things you just don’t want to compromise on anymore, before you move ahead.
As we get older and have life experiences behind us, we are much more in tune with what we absolutely do not want to deal with anymore or what is a definite no for us and this is a really important step in gaining the clarity that allows you to work out how to move forward and see what you actually DO want.
Now you have a list of your non-negotiables, you can start thinking about what it is you DO want, and it’s really important here to understand the why behind the wants.
The Why: What’s In It For Me?
Effective goals base themselves on our personal values. We need to understand the WHY behind what we want to do and what that really means to us before we can figure out how to achieve that goal. Specificity is important: Don’t Be Vague.
Deciding on the goal of “getting a new job” is not exactly specific enough here. Perhaps its not just a job that’s at the core of your want to change, perhaps its a change of career or something else that’s causing the emotion? The thought that you need a new job is the end result of that emotion. What you need to do is understand what’s causing it.
Using this as an example, think about why you want the change. Think about all the reasons why you want to do something new.
- I’ve done the same thing for such a long time;
- I am burned out;
- I can’t continue anymore due to illness or life change;
- I want to focus my sights on a new area;
- I want to work in an area I have a real passion for.
Now think about how this change will make you feel?
- It will make me feel like I’m doing something for me;
- It’s something I’ve always wanted to do;
- I will feel useful and my time and energy worthwhile;
- I will feel like I’m being fulfilled;
- It will make me feel relieved/calm/comforted as it will allow me to increase my income or earning capacity.
How To Set SMART Goals
The SMART goal process is probably the most widely known way to set out productive goals. It’s simple, its effective and it works.
S – (Specific)
Goals that are well defined, clear and unambiguous
M – (Measurable)
They must contain specific criterion that allows you to measure progress
A – (Achievable)
Something that is attainable and not impossible
R – (Realistic)
Within your reach and relevant to your life goals/plans
T – (Time Bound)
Includes a clearly defined timeline of start and end date
Goals need self evaluation. You won’t need external validation from others when you achieve a goal you have set for yourself. Self evaluation boosts self confidence, self reliance and motivation.
How To Trick Your Brain Into Goal Setting Action
I read recently that some scientists have proven that the human brain cannot distinguish between reality and imagined reality. This means that when we give ourselves an image or a thought in our minds of the goal we want to achieve, our brain starts believing that the image is real.
The more we think about the goal, the more our brain starts working to create action and therefore you are more likely to achieve it. (Berkman, 2018).
Progress, Evaluation & Success
Keeping track of goal progress is simple. Starting from the end date (goal completion), work backwards and note down what needs to be finalised at each point (i.e each month) for that goal to be completed. Note these dates and actions down. Make a calendar entry, set a phone alarm, whatever you need to do. You need to ensure you make time to get it done.
Any type of goal requires you, at some point, to look back and evaluate how you went. Otherwise, how do you know if you achieved it?
The best way I know to do this is to look at your goals daily and have a thorough check in on your progress every month. Run through your SMART goals and calendar and check up on yourself. Are you hitting your milestones? Are you on track time wise? Perhaps you could benefit from an accountability partner? Someone who you can share your goals and their progress with – this is also a great way keep you on track.
A famous study done by Dr Gail Matthews, a Psychology professor in California shows us that you can become significantly more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down and checking in on them every day. Her study included men and women from all backgrounds and nationalities and the results were clear, those people who wrote down their goals achieved them at a significantly higher rate than those who didn’t. More than that – those people who regularly updated their accountability partner with their progress, achieved more than anyone else who participated in the study.
So who are we to dismiss science? Pencils ready? Commence!
If you need more help setting goals or think you need an accountability partner to keep yourself on track, think about the advantage that is having a personal coach in your corner. Someone who can partner with you and help you develop strong strategies to be the change you want to see in your own life.
You can also download our FREE Personal Action Plan here to help you get those dreams down on paper!
Just Be You, Everyday