Let us see why goal setting is important and how to do it well. Goal setting is the seemingly simple process of committing yourself or to someone else for achieving some milestone in future. This is important both in professional and personal fronts.
What we will see in this article:
- Defining Goals and Goal Setting
- Why don’t most people set goal?
- Why Goals fail
- Why Set Goals?
- Types of Goals
- Understanding nuances of effective goal setting
- SMART Goals
- Facts of Goal Setting
Defining Goals and Goal Setting
Defining a goal means, clearly demarking a point marking end of race; object of effort or ambition, destination etc. Goal is the outcome of the effort that you are going to put.
Whereas goal setting is a process of deciding what you want to accomplish and devising plan to achieve the result you desire.
Why don't most people set a goal?
Most common reasons for why most don't set their goals are as below:
We human beings have an inherent trait of being wary about any changes. This is seen everywhere. We tend to be pessimistic towards doing something different. For example, try convincing your family that you want to leave your salaried job to start your own business; an all-supporting family will suddenly change pessimistic.
Fear of Failure
This is somewhat related to the previous point. We are afraid of changes. And afraid, if we fail in the thing that we are trying to change. This is mainly because, we are very much thoughtful about "what others will think?"!!
Think about yourself - what you want to achieve and go towards that.
Ignorance of importance of Goals
If we do not have a goal, we will not reach anywhere. Whatever it is, have a destination decided. And you should work towards reaching that destination. This can be anything - going for a dream vacation, a promotion at work, completing a certification, learning a new language, a dance performance on stage. Anything.
Lack of knowledge about setting Goal
Many may very well have a goal. But do not know how to attain it.
Lack of Ambition
People who are in their mid 30s usually have this problem of not having an ambition. This is partially because of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They hit a plateau of success or a false feeling of fulfillment. That is the time when most lose their ambitions and find a comfort zone in what they are doing.
This is the exact time for finding a new goal.
Low Self Esteem
Again, people who think they are no good like their peers stop trying new things - just by thinking, "Anyways, I am not as good as my colleague/friend. So why wasting my efforts"!
One has to introspect and if needed, forcefully realize that everyone has some or other superpower. We are all created from the same stuff- "Star dust".
Fear of Rejection
This is a by-product of fear of failure. The thought of what will happen if I fail. Fact is, the world is not revolving around you. People have a thousand things to worry about. No one cares what you do. So, forget about failure and rejection. Put the boots on and start running.
Why goals fail?
Ok, you set the goal. But it failed. Most of the time, goals fail because of silly mistakes we do. Very small steps we miss and we miss the goal.
Not Written Down
Try writing down what you want to achieve. Not on a paper. Rather, you have to write it on a chart paper and stick it to the wall, where you and others can see. Every time you see the writing, it should keep reminding you of the goal.
Any goal should be rewarding. You should not set yourself a goal which will put you into misery. If you are working on a small salary job, do not set your goal to take a loan and buy a Mercedez car. It will put you into misery. Rather your goal should be to earn enough money to buy a luxury car. Reward - Not misery. This is very important.
You have to set a realistic goal. You may want to go onsite. That may be realistic. But going to moon might not be. Choose your game wisely. Have realistic and achievable goals. That will be rewarding too.
Do not be adament on your goal. Sometimes, your goal may go obsolete. For example, in late 1990s, buying a pager was a dream for many. But quickly in early 2000s, pagers became obsolete and cell phones took over. If you had a goal to buy a pager, it would be of no use in 2000s. Point is, if your goal becomes obsolete, keep up to the change. Change your goal. As wise men say - Change or Perish.
You need to be accountable for your success and failure. We spoke about fear of failure and fear of rejections in previous section. Make it to your use. When setting a goal, let your inner circle of people (those who won't judge you) know that your goal is X. and prove to the inner circle that you are serious about your goal.
Always have a timeline to your goal. If you do not have a plan, you do not have a goal. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Why to set goals?
You need to set goals for:
- Taking control of your own life.
- You focus on important things and ignore those unimportant ones.
- Focus on making good decisions.
- Focus on efficiency.
- So that, you will be self-confident.
- Have better visibility to your goal.
Types of goals
Your goals should be classified into three (or as you wish - but consider this model).
- Short term goals - Those goals which can be achieved in a time box of less than 3 months.
- Medium term goals - Those goals which can be achieved in a time box of less than 2 years.
- Long term goals - Those goals which can be achieved in a time box of around 5-7 years.
The trick is you should do the goal setting in the reverse order. You should know the big picture. Plan smaller achievable goals which incrementally will contribute to achieve your long-term goals.
Effective goal setting
First you need to decide what you want to achieve. Then, you need to identify how to achieve the goal.
Here are a few tips to set effective goals:
Set SMARTER GOALS
The word SMARTER is the key here. SMARTER means:
- Specific - Goal should be specific than an ambiguous cross hair.
- Measurable - You should be able to see if the effort you put to achieve the goal is good enough or not.
- Action-oriented - Your goals should be based on your actions. Do not believe in other's action to help you.
- Realistic - Must be a realistic goal.
- Timebound - Set a time frame to achieve the goal. If it fails, reset the time frame and try different methods.
- Effective - Your goal should have some effect on you. A positive one.
- Relevant - Your goal should be relevant to you.
Write your goals!
Write your goal and make it visible for yourself and it should keep on reminding you about your goal.
Identify your goal
Ask three questions-
If you have satisfying answers for the above questions, chase your goal.
Facts about goal setting
- Specific, realistic goals work best
- It takes time for a change to become an established habit.
- Repeating a goal makes it stick.
- Pleasing other people doesn’t always work.
- Roadblocks doesn’t always mean failure.
- If required, fail early.
Go chase your dream!!