In every self-help book, you will ever read there is almost guaranteed to be a section on goal setting. Most of us, including me, seem to get this simple task wrong so I am going to attempt to address goal setting in this article.
My personal view on goal setting is that it’s been thought about and talked about way too much in the last few decades. It has become over complicated and continues to be something that we just don’t follow through on – I am very guilty of this myself.
What has been successful for me is just to cut through all the noise and develop a way of goal setting that is easy to follow, and doesn’t require hours and hours of your time. The quicker you can complete a list of your goals, the more likely you are not to overthink them.
Why should you write goals???
This realisation has taken a long time to come to me so I want to keep this part very straightforward so that anyone can understand it. The reason you need to write goals is because goals will assist you in improving your present-moment reality.
Properly written goals will help to inspire, create hope and fill you with desire. Anything that can make you feel better and help you re-focus in the present moment is going to be highly useful for you on your own journey of success.
So, every time you write a goal you are actually inspiring yourself in the present moment as well as assisting yourself to take action right now instead of tomorrow!
Below are the six easy steps that I follow to write game-changing goals. Feel free to use some or all of them when you write your own.
1. Try to aim for less than ten
I have found that when you start attempting to write more than ten goals for a year, you begin to tell yourself that what you want is too hard. The key to writing goals is not to write every single goal down but to concentrate your effort on your major goals.
Don’t let small goals confuse you. Often when people think of their smaller goals they are actually referring to tasks that are required to be completed as part of an overarching major goal. Find another way to track these if you can.
Recently, when I completed my goal list, I ended up with seven major goals. These seven were refined down from the initial nine that I came up with. It’s important to cull a few if they are things that are not a priority or might happen beyond the next twelve months.
2. Link them to your vision
One of the goals I wrote down on my list was to join Toastmasters and learn public speaking. After I had reread the goal, I realised that public speaking is not part of my vision, and it’s an ugly phrase that the majority of us are scared of.
So, what I advise to fix these types of issues is to write the goal down and mention your vision in the description. For me, this meant rewriting the goal to say “complete three months of Toastmasters, so I can start to inspire people with my talks.”
By adding in the part about inspiring people, I am directly linking the goal to a section of my vision which is to inspire the world through my work. For your own goals, you absolutely must do this.
If you look at your goals each day, and they don’t inspire you or make you feel passionate, then you will never follow through on them. You wouldn’t want that now would you?
3. Set a deadline
Notice how this step mentions deadline and not timeframe? That’s because a deadline has to be met but a timeframe is negotiable.
As you write your goals down you should have a separate column that says deadline. Next to each goal you should write a date that this goal must be completed by. Once all your goals are written down go back and look at the dates. Make sure the date you have put for each goal is realistic and as accurate as you can.
Then, check to see when deadlines fall. Try to have at least one goal expiring every three months (obviously this will depend on the size of the goal). This creates the feeling of progress which all of us humans crave, and it will subconsciously keep you motivated.
If all of your goals expire on the same date or in the same month, then you should rewrite your deadlines again.
4. Write them down in the right state of mind
Writing your goals down when you are in an angry or frustrated state will usually result in an uninspiring list of goals. Before you set aside some time to write your goals down, watch an inspiring movie, read something inspiring or do some exercise with high energy music.
This easy step will allow you to get the most out of writing your goals down. Ideally, you want to feel like nothing can stop you and everything in your life is moving in the direction you want it too. We don’t feel like this all the time, but we can create this feeling if we want too.
Try this and see the difference it has on the way your goals are worded. The movie I recommend watching before a goal setting session is Remember The Titans and the book I would recommend is The Motivation Manifesto if you’re stuck for ideas.
5. Keep them in your wallet
When you have finished writing your goals down, you need to display them somewhere where you won’t forget them. It’s useless going through a goal setting exercise if you never look at them again.
As soon as you have written your goals down you should print them out on a small piece of paper and keep them in your wallet. If you want to go the extra mile (and a lot of you will), then print your goals out and stick them on your desk, bedside table, and anywhere else that you will see them constantly.
This simple task helps you remember what’s important and why you should ignore distractions as much as possible that don’t relate to these goals. I have found that goals create focus and for anyone like me who constantly gets distracted, it keeps you in control.
6. Create accountability with some key people
The moment I finished writing down my own goals I emailed them to some key people. The reason why I recommend you do the same is that by doing this, you create leverage. It means that there other people out there who you have told what you have committed too.
The other major benefit is not so obvious and let me give you an example. One of the goals I wrote down was to meet a certain Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist named Bill Tai. The reason I included him was that I wanted the people reading my goals to know what’s important to me.
When key people around you know what’s important to you, they also keep a lookout for ways they can help you to achieve your goals (especially if that key person is fundamental to one of your goals). So far, I haven’t had luck in meeting Bill Tai yet, but as long as I keep telling people that this is important to me, eventually this goal will be realised.
Now, I just used this very point and demonstrated it to you. How? By telling all of you that this is my goal on the off chance that maybe one of you knows Bill Tai. Maybe it will help me achieve the goal or maybe it won’t say but what it will do is increase the chances of me achieving this goal.