Goals give us direction – they’re like a roadmap. Goals help us focus our efforts on what matters to us, and avoid wasting time with “side roads” that don’t help us get to the desired result. Setting goals enables us to positively affect our future.
There are many different areas for goal setting. We may have career or financial goals, educational goals, or goals for physical well-being. We may have goals for changing our behavior or improving our communication skills. We may want to be a more effective parent or develop other meaningful relationships.
Any goal setting helps us better define what is important for us in life. It gives us more clarity about what we want to do or how we’d like to be. It isn’t necessary to have monumental goals, in fact ‘big’ goals should be broken down into attainable pieces. A little bit of success with a small goal will motivate us to achieve more successes.
Goals are not just an end point – they also help us start. What is measured, improves. Goals give us something to measure our progress against. Writing goals down and sharing them with others increases the chances that we will reach those goals.
Business has relied heavily on the concept of SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based). “A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scorekeeper” (thebalancesmb.com). Very specific goals are much more motivating and attainable than vague, general goals with no specific outcome. “I want to earn more” is just a wish. “I want to reach $150/week in e-book sales by December 15th provides a much clearer direction.
Measurable, time-based goals can easily be broken down into concrete steps. If your goal is about communication skills, I will write three or four “you” statements that I made every day and change them into “I” statements is more useful than I want to use more “I” statements. How would you know when you’ve reached your goal? With the first one, you would see three or four sentences written in your notebook at the end of each day. Bravo! (When you can easily identify several in a day, you might progress to changing one or two of them before you say them instead of after!)
There are many websites devoted entirely to the art and skill of setting goals. Following a template or worksheet can be helpful when you’re new to goal setting.
Here are some resources for setting goals (in no special order):
- Goal-setting worksheet
- SMART Goal Setting Worksheets
- Goal-setting quick start guide
- 10 Rules for Goal-setting
- Benefits of setting goals
- More goal-setting worksheets
Once you arrive at a specific, well-defined goal, write it down, share it, and keep it in view. This helps to make the goal more powerful and you more accountable.