READ this post (6min):
Why is it important to have goals?
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail – Benjamin Franklin
Research clearly shows that people who make consistent progress toward meaningful goals live happier, more satisfied lives than those who don’t. And this is largely because having goals allows you to steer your life in the direction you choose. Sure, you may already be setting and working towards certain goals, such as getting a job promotion or saving for a holiday. But are you setting goals for ‘all’ of the other areas in your life which are important to you?
I say this because so often, I coach people who have gotten to their 40s, 50s, and 60s, only to find that their health is failing, their marriage is broken, their doing a job that they are not passionate about, or sometimes all three. Or it could be any other less than desirable state that they look up and find themselves in, one which is far away from where they thought they would be at this point in their lives.
This is because they have gotten caught in the drift of life – where life has taken them along for the ride, instead of them dictating where they wanted their life to go. Sure, we can’t control everything that happens in life, but we can work towards a future we want to create.
If you can relate to any of this then the first thing to do is to acknowledge where you are at today/your current reality. Are you where you should or want to be in any area of your life –relationships, health, finances or anything else? If not, then don’t beat yourself up – that’s fine. You simply need to acknowledge where you are at, to get to where you want to go. Remember it’s never too late to get back on track – regardless of how far you have drifted off course.
Next you need to decide what you want to create for yourself. This is where you need to let yourself dream a little. What do you want your health to look like? What kind of relationships do you want to enjoy? What kind of work do you want to do? And anything else. Write it down.
Once you have decided where you want to be, then you can start working towards steering yourself in the direction you want to go. And you do this by setting some goals and working towards them.
Here are some important tips towards setting goals;
Set SMART goals – which is an acronym for meeting the following criteria:
Specific—your goals must identify exactly what you want to accomplish, with as much specificity as possible.
Bad: Get healthy.
Good: Start exercising and stop smoking.
Measurable—you can’t manage what you can’t measure, so ensure that your goal is quantifiable.
Bad: Take up running.
Good: Do a 5km fun run.
Actionable—every goal should start with an action verb (finish/quit/run/etc.) rather than a to-be verb (be/have/am/etc.).
Bad: Be more consistent with eating veggies.
Good: Eat 2 cups of veggies every day.
Realistic—Set goals which will push you out of your comfort zone, but at the same time are not unachievable.
Bad: Cycle in the ‘Le Tour De France.’
Good: Participate in ‘Cycle Around the Bay.’
Time-Framed—A goal without a date is just a dream. Make sure that every goal ends with a by when date.
Bad: Lose 10 kg.
Good: Lose 10 kg by June 30.
An example of a goal with all of the SMART criteria would include;
I will walk for 30 minutes, 5 days every week, by the 15th of January.
Set some goals around health: The first place you should start to set some goals around is your health – because without it nothing else matters. The best goals to set around health, are all of the attributes which I talk about in the 3 keys; if you are not doing some or all of these things, then you already have some essential goals to work towards (well until they become lifestyle habits anyway).
Write down and keep your goals in clear view: When you write something down, you are stating your intention and setting things in motion. Also ensure to keep your goals in clear view. Some ways you can do this is to save your goals as your screen saver, stick them on your fridge, your desk or any other place you frequent daily.
Review goals frequently: Ensure to review your goals daily, weekly, or monthly. This will keep you inspired and ensure you remain on track towards achieving your goals. If you find that are not achieving your goals, then work out why. It could be as simple as changing your strategy. Or sometimes it’s because we have conflicting values which take us further away rather than closer to our goals. For example, if your goal is to lose weight but you enjoy a glass of wine most nights of the week, then you need to decide on what you want more.
Don’t have too many goals: Productivity studies show that we really can’t focus on more than 5 to 7 items at one time. Any more and you will find yourself spread too thin, doing many things and excelling in none. Trust me, I have been a master of this in the past, and you won’t really accomplish anything. So just focus on a few goals which you most want to accomplish right now.
So remember, whilst most of us have dreams, these dreams don’t just happen – you have to have some kind of intentionality and goals in place to make it happen. But more than that, you need to work towards your goals – and I say that because a lot of people live in the “dream of, would of, could of, should of”, but never do what’s actually required to achieve them. And it’s these same people who continue to get caught in the drift of life. But by regularly setting and working towards your goals, you can take control of, and steer your life in any direction you choose. Everyday becomes an opportunity to move toward your destination.
Do you set goals and what works for you?
WATCH this post (9min):
LISTEN to this post (9min):