There are many methods for goal setting and to be honest, most of them fall short. The trick is to find a method that fits you. But it’s more than that. It’s also important to understand that the process of setting goals should be a flexible one because you won’t accomplish some goals and that’s okay.
For instance, what if you set a goal to buy a specific TV by the end of the year and three months after you set the goal, you learn the TV has been recalled due to a bad part? You either have to cross that goal off your list or modify it so you can still achieve it.
Another example might be if you set a goal to leave your job because you’re just not satisfied with it. You write down that in three months time, you want to be working in a more satisfying job. But one month later, you’re given a promotion and you’re now doing the kind of work you enjoy. What happens to your goal? Again, you either have to decline the promotion or just cross that goal off your list since it’s no longer important to you. Either way, something has to change.
I can hear you saying, “What’s the point? I never achieve my goals so why even set any?” I know how hard it can be to accomplish goals, I’ve been there. And I know how disappointing and frustrating it is to write down the same goals year after year. What’s the point, right?
Avoiding Common Mistakes
The truth is, if you’re not accomplishing at least some of your goals every year, you’re doing it wrong. I know this because I’ve spent my share of years doing it wrong. But every year that I’ve set goals and haven’t accomplished them became really important feedback for me. Every year I’ve analyzed and tweaked my goal-setting process until I started getting better results. So I’ve learned a lot about what not to do, and about what doesn’t work when setting goals.
If you’re sick of setting a New Year’s Resolution or making a long list of goals that you never achieve, I don’t blame you. The good news is, you don’t have to settle for the same poor results every year. You can avoid the mistakes that most people make and have a better chance of success. So here are some tips for goal-setting that work in the real world.
Real-World Goal-Setting Tips
1. Set only a few goals that you are serious about achieving; goals that will positively impact your life if you accomplish them, and goals that you are actually ready to work on.
2. Set goals that will move you toward the life you desire.
3. Focus on the most meaningful goal on your list as your primary goal.
4. Write a general, step-by-step plan on how to achieve your primary goal.
5. Work on your other goals (if you have more than one) as energy, enthusiasm, and time permits.
6. Either bi-weekly or monthly, review all your goals. But review your primary goal every day or at least once a week.
7. If you change your mind about a goal on your list, be willing to cross it off.
8. Consider setting up a reward or negative consequence (or both) to keep you on track and moving closer to achieving your primary goal (or all your goals). NOTE: Negative consequences are far more effective than positive rewards for motivating you and holding you accountable.
9. Ask a spouse, partner, friend, co-worker or relative to help you establish some form of accountability.
10. Keep your head in the game–do things to keep you enthusiastic about achieving your goal and keeping your goal front-and-center in your attention.
BONUS: 11. Regularly spend time with people who have already achieved the same goal or who are trying to achieve it.
Got any questions or tips of your own that you would like to share? Leave them in the comments.