For many people goal setting is not much different to closing their eyes and wishing really hard for something to come true. I’m not meaning to be harsh just real about this often misunderstood topic.

Goal setting is a skill that has to be learned! It is actually not easy to set Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible (S.M.A.R.T.) goals and then achieve them within a clearly designated period.

I know a lot of people who have tried setting goals once or twice. Like me years ago, they found the experience largely unhelpful, even quite frustrating. At the end of the year (or whatever period) they had either grossly under or over-achieved their goals (if they could remember them or even find the sheet of paper they were written on).

Most people over-estimate what they can achieve in a shorter time (say 3-12 months) and greatly under-estimate what they can achieve in a longer period (say 1-3 years). Unfortunately the Lotto Shortcut mentality has infiltrated our society and we all want to find the easy way to where we would like to be. (Question: What is the longest route between two points? Answer: Via the nearest shortcut!)

Some simple truths about effective goal setting:

  1. Goal setting is all about helping to focus your mind and therefore your actions on the necessary steps to take you forward. You will always move towards what you focus on!
  2. The difference between a goal and a wish is that a goal will have a measurement associated. E.g. I want to be a better car salesman (wish) v’s I will sell 5 cars every month this year (goal). The difference is that you can know whether you have achieved the goal or not.
  3. Setting a goal doesn’t make it happen automatically! A goal is meant to be a motivator. An effective goal is a realistic stretch so that it motivates you to work harder, to learn more and to be more focused so that you step up and make it happen.
  4. It is critical to keep your goals in front of you constantly so that you stay focused and motivated. If goals need to be evaluated and reset then do it, but don’t give up on them
  5. It is best to set  goals in key areas right across your life so that you grow wholistically not just in one area. E.g. Personal Growth, Health, Finances, Work/Business, Family/Relationships, Spiritual, etc.
  6. It is good to set annual goals and then to break those annual goals into 90 day, then 30 day and then 7 day segments to make them even more achievable.

Living life without goals is like playing basketball with a backboard but no hoop; it gets pretty boring very fast! The hoop serves as motivation to improve your shooting skills and to know if you have scored. We function best when we have some credible measures of progress in our lives. If you want to feel the thrill of winning consistently you will work hard to learn the skill of goal setting.

If you are interested in a Weekly Goal Setting Template please click on my article on ‘How to Make sure the Important Things Always get Done’.

What have you found works for you with goal setting?