With this year winding down to a close, it’s a good idea to start making plans for the start of a brand new one. It’s the time where we must take the mistakes and triumphs of the past, and shape what we have learned to make next year our best ever. As we would all like next year to be better than last year, it goes without saying that we must make certain worthwhile changes order for this to occur. If you haven’t begun setting your goals yet, now is the best time to do so. The following guidelines will help you to have your best year ever through effective goal setting.
Step 1 - Write Down Your Goals - In order for a goal to be worth its weight in gold, it must be written down. The misconception of many people is that if they wish or pray for something hard enough, it will practically appear out of thin air. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although, saying a prayer or two gives us joy and hope, prayer by itself is not very meaningful. You must write down each of your goals and provide such details as schedules, deadlines, activities, obstacles, and benefits. This will solidify the goal, and give it power.
Step 2 - Set Each Goal as a Positive Statement - Whenever you decide that you want something, it is always a good idea to state it as if it were going to show up without fail. Simply stating “I want to lose 30 pounds in 6 months” will not be the driving force behind reaching your goal. You must think of your goal as if it were a company payroll check. You know for certain that you will receive that check regardless of snow storms, traffic jams, burning buildings, or power outages. Your goals should also possess this type of force. An example of a positive statement would be, “I will complete next year’s marathon race”, "I will buy a new car in 3 months" or “I will visit the Pyrenees next summer.”
Step 3 - Set Big Goals - Any goal that you set needs to be big in scope. It should be big enough to make you work like you’ve never worked before. It should be big enough and difficult enough to force you to use every brain cell, muscle, and tissue that you didn’t even know you possessed. Your goal should be the equivalent of climbing Mount Rushmore. It should take days, setbacks, triumphs, failures, fatigue, aches, and pains before you finally reach it. Never set the easy go-nowhere goals that you will reach in 30 minutes. The true purpose of a goal is to stretch you, make you more confident, and thus improve your life. Therefore, set big goals.
Step 4 - Keep Operational Goals Small - As it is important to set big goals, it is just as important to not set them too high. When you set a goal that is too big, it becomes entirely impossible to reach. It would be the equivalent of sending someone a haircut through the mail, or driving a car from the back seat. As you know, these activities will not accomplish anything. The same result occurs with goals that are too big. The goals that you set must be big, but they must also be small enough or low enough for you to reach.
Step 5 - Set Performance Goals, Not Outcome Goals - Before you can proceed with this step, it will be important for you to first understand the difference between performance and outcome goals. Performance goals are objectives that force you to compete with yourself. They are extremely important, because you are the one pulling all of the strings. You are the producer, director, screenwriter, actor, cinematographer, and set designer. Outcome goals are those that are carried out by an external form of energy, which we can neither control nor hold responsible. Examples of outcome goals would be bad weather, a failing economy, flu season, or forest fires. In a sporting event, you can only control your performance, and not that of your competitor. With goals, the same is also true. Set performance goals only.
Step 6 - Be Precise About Your Goals - No goal is really a goal unless it is detailed and precise. Your goal must serve as your map or guide post that will keep you focused at every turn. Many of us have ridden the railways to those long trips to visit relatives and friends. On those occasions, we have, in many cases, taken for granted that we would reach our destinations safely and on time. However, there is a great certainty that we’ve never thought about the details that made this possible. These details include time of departure, arrival time, directions, fuel, staff schedules, railway and train maintenance, and emergency issues. Your goals must have such details as timelines, schedules, projections, and many others.
Step 7 - Set Priorities for Your Goals - One of the most effective ways to reach one goal is to have several at one time. However, you will not want to work on all of them simultaneously. Therefore, it is best that you prioritize your goals. The most important, most pressing, or easiest to reach goals should be the ones that you focus on first. This is so important for the focus factor. You must be able to concentrate fully on each goal, and will only be able to do so by prioritizing and working on them one at a time. When you have reached one goal, you can then scratch it off your list and begin to work on the next one. In short, prioritize.
Step 8 - Shun SNOIPism - Many of us feel more comfortable keeping our goals to ourselves, and with good reason. The truth is that we don’t share our goals, because we fear that those that we entrust with them will convince us that we are being silly, and that we will ultimately give up on our goals solely based on someone else’s opinion. Zig Ziglar, the great motivational philosopher of our time, would call us “SNIOP“, which means that we are Susceptible to the Negative Influences of Other People. Don’t let this be you. If you have loved ones with whom you can share your goals with and know that they will support you, then share with those people. Otherwise, you must keep your goals to yourself.
Step 9 - Compete with Other Like-Minded People Who Have Goals of Their Own - Although much effort is needed to reach our goals, the work that is required of us does not have to be unpleasant. In fact, you could even make it an enjoyable experience. A good way to do this is by having a friendly competition with others who have goals of their own. For example, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds in 6 months and a close friend has a completely different goal, you could have a friendly competition on who will reach their goal first. The aim is not to outdo each other. Instead, it is to cheerlead and to praise each other when certain milestones have been reached. This could actually give you more energy and increase your motivation level.
Step 10 - Maintain a Weekly Progress Report of Your Goals - Keep a weekly report card on your progress. For example, if your goal is to read 12 books in 6 months, you could first break that down into 2 books a month, one book every 2 weeks, and a half of a book each week. Then, each week, you should check your weekly reading progress. If you find that you’re on schedule, make sure that you stay on schedule. On the other hand, if you have fallen slightly behind, double your reading efforts until you have gotten back on schedule. Keep doing this until you have reached your reading goal.
Step 11 - After You’ve Reached Each of Your Goals, Celebrate - Cheers! Hip! Hip! Hooray! You’ve made it. You’ve worked hard, maintained focus, stayed on schedule, and now you’ve become a success. Now, comes the fun part! CELEBRATE! Take the day off from work, go to the movies, buy yourself a nice gift, treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, stay out very late, or don’t stay out at all. Celebrate and enjoy your victory.
Tips & Warnings
- Write down 100 goals.
- Maintain a positive attitude.
- Read Inspirational books.
- Keep company with positive people.
- Make sure to set deadlines.
- Avoid those who will try to discourage you.
- Never make goals easy to reach.
- Never lose focus.