People with goals are more successul than people who don't have goals.
What will you have achieved by the end of today?
Where will you be in five years' time?
What do you want to get out of life?
The way people answer these questions is the best predictor of who will be successful in life and who won't.
The effect of setting a goal is almost magical. As soon as you decide on a goal problems disappear and opportunities open up that didn't seem to be there before. Study after study has proven that setting personal goals leads to better performance. To harness this effect you need to establish SMART Goals - clear, measurable and challenging goals in multiple areas of your life.
Goal setting is a procedure for setting personal goals for yourself. For goals to improve performance they must be specific. They must also be challenging - if your goals are too easy then you will not alter your performance by much. Follow the five step plan to your goals.
You need to set goals for all the major areas of your life. Each person will have a different mix but most will include goals for:
You must be very clear what it is you want to achieve. Vague goals like "I want to be happy" or "People will look up to me" cannot be achieved.
Create your goals using the SMART formula. Goals must be:
The goal must be stated in a way that is clear, precise and specific. A vague goal is no good.
Define a method of measuring the goal
The goal has to be attainable. If you know that the goal is impossible then you will quickly get discouraged and eventually give up. However it should also be challenging. Focusing on the challenge keeps you motivated.
It must be a realistic goal, and it must make sense to do it. Having goal of learning to speak French just for the sake of it is not going to work if it has no particular value in your lifestyle.
You need a completion schedule and due date or the completion day will just keep rolling away into the future.
A well defined goal might be "By the end of the year I will be in the top ten percent of sales in my company" or "I will go out socially three nights a week and have fifty new names in my phone list by the time my birthday comes" or "I will increase my earnings by 20% each year".
You must write out your goals.
A goal that is not written down is just wishful thinking. Making a list is the most important part of the goal setting process. Write down your first ideas and then refine them the next day and the day after for as long as it takes to get a set of goals that feels right to you. Writing them down is an essential part. It is not enough just to think of goals. Writing them down gives them a separate existence, they become independent and something you can relate to outside of yourself.
Limit your first set of goals to a total of four to six. You need to focus on your goals all the time, you cannot do that if you have dozens of them.
The goals are not wishes. You have to do something to make them happen. Set clear deadlines. The purpose of the goal is to get you focused and energised. Suppose your goal was to "Get a novel published within six months". You therefore have to break this down to into monthly sub goals "I will finish two chapters each month". You therefore need a sub sub goal to measure progress "I will write one thousand words a day." Looking at it from a daily perspective will quickly let you know if your goal is realistic or not. Maybe you need to adjust your time scale, or maybe you need to adjust some other goal. As soon as you have a daily or weekly goal it will become obvious whether or not you are achieving it. You can then adjust your set of goals to take into account what you can actually do, or you can take action to make that daily target happen.
Remind yourself of your goals constantly. Write your goals on a card and take it out at odd moments during the day to remind yourself. Before you leave the house each day, throw a scrap of paper in the middle of the floor. When you return it will remind you to rehearse your goals. Ask yourself "What have I done today towards achieving my goal?".
Tell everyone around you what your goals are. Keep a record of each milestone, each stage completed towards your goal. Constantly keep adjusting your goals in the light of progress made.
Every night before you go to sleep, remind yourself of what have done that day towards you goal, and every day before you get out of bed, remind your self of what your goals are and how good you will feel when you get there. Visualise the outcome and go to sleep with that vision in your mind. Remember the Law of Expectation, what you think about is what you will get.
Your goals will not happen by themselves. The point of goal setting is to motivate you to action. You need to do something every day towards your goal. It does not need to be large or important, as long as you do something. Your goal is consistency. And as you begin some action each day, it will get easier each day to find that something to do. All of these actions will accelerate towards your goal and progress will become faster and automatic.
Goals work in a number of ways
Goals provide a sense of direction or purpose in life. Without clear goals you are just drifting around, depending on luck.
Having clear goals focuses attention on those activities which lead to the goal, and discourages distracting activities.
Setting goals can lead to bigger effort. If you have a goal you are more likely to work harder to achieve it than you would if had no goal and no measure to compare yourself to.
If you have a clear goal in mind your are more likely to work on despite setbacks or discouragement.
The degree to which you are committed to achieving your goal is critical. A half hearted commitment will probably lead to failure.
You need to be able to measure progress towards your goal. You need a way to judge whether to work harder or to change your methods. This is why you need to set deadlines and sub goals.
You need to be sure that you have the necessary skills to achieve your goal. If necessary getting those skills can become a sub goal.
Your goals must not conflict with each other. As you progress with one goal it may influence some other goal, so you need to be prepared to constantly rewrite your goals.
Your goal must not be something that is ultimately self defeating. Remember the old joke about the man who gets one wish from a genie and asked to become irresistible to women: the genie turned him into a cuddly puppy.
Writing down the goal is vital. Otherwise the goal will get relegated when some immediate and urgent activity is encountered.
"What have I done today towards my goal?" Go over your goals in mind at least several times a day.
Your goal must be something that is valuable and necessary in your life.
You need to review your goals from time to time. If you haven't done anything about a goal for several weeks or months then it probably is not really important to you and so is not really a goal. Go back to your list and rewrite it.
Set up checkpoints when you will review your goals.
Measure and record your progress and celebrate when you reach a milestone. Be good to yourself, motivate yourself with little rewards.
Remember that goal setting is an continuing process, not a decision.
Make sure that you enjoy achieving your goal.
Goals take a long time. You need to be sure that you can put a constant level of effort into achieving them in the future.