Set Smart Goals
Have you heard about the importance of goal-setting? I’m sure like the rest of us you have. You may have even written down your goals which is great because people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them.
Life is busy and it’s easy to fall off track to our goal if our method of getting there needs refining. So here are five steps that anyone can follow to refresh and clarify their goal setting.
1. Choose your goals wisely and write them down.
It's more effective to focus on one goal at a time, perhaps two. The mind is better able to focus on what you want to achieve this way without being overwhelmed. Focus on a goal you’re really drawn to acting on right now. Keep it realistic but push just past your comfort zone with what you're aiming for. Write it down following the SMART approach- Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Bound.
A good example would be: On the fifth of September I have completed my online course.
A not so good example: Next month I’ll do my online course.
2. Break your goal down into bite-sized actions
If you look from where you are now, to the date you wish to achieve your goal all those things to do will seem overwhelming! That’s why this step is so valuable and often overlooked: Use a diary, calendar, Ipad, phone or any method to break down and list the steps to your goal into bite-sized to-do actions. This process can be applied for any type of goal. If your end goal is to finish an online course then schedule time in your diary with a clear to do list for your bite-sized tasks, example:
Friday 20th 9am-10am-write my summary draft, 200 words, approx time 30 minutes.
This way your mind is less overwhelmed, more organised, more focused and more productive. This step can significantly reduce stress just on its own.
3. Visualising your success.
When we have a clear plan with manageable steps, any goal is achievable. Once a plan is in place the next step is mental rehearsal, a very important step for successful goal setting.
This step is so important that I have written a seperate post about it here
If you would like to read more about refining visualisation later and just get started now, relax using slow breathing or another technique and imagine yourself successfully achieving your goal, making it as real and detailed as possible. There is no strict way to do this, the way you visualise is as unique as your fingerprint. Some people sense rather than see images and vice versa, just do it your way.
4. Become aware of blocks to your goal.
So you have written your goal down, created an action plan with bite-sized actions, have visualised success but it’s still not happening the way you want? List the things standing between you and your goal. Here are some common examples of internal and external blocks to goal success and how to overcome them:
External block: I don’t have time to finish my online course because I work fulltime.
Action plan: Allocate small manageable amounts of time daily or weekly to complete the online course.
If something is high on your list of priorities you can and will find a way to make time even if it’s 10 minutes a week to start with, break it down into manageable steps and complete them, focus on one baby step at a time.
Internal block: I have my goal clear in my mind but I just don’t believe I can get there.
Action plan: Is your goal realistic? Does it follow the SMART method? If yes it may be that you hold a belief about yourself that you need to change. Start to explore where this belief came from, when it was formed, was it someone elses belief that you took on as truth? What would life be like if you chose not to believe this anymore? The internal blocks to our goals can often unveil inner work we can do.
External and Internal block: I told my friend about my goal and she wasn't so positive about it, I'm really deflated and not feeling the same about things anymore.
Action Plan: Rule 1 when goal setting and aiming for something is to be very selective with who you tell. In fact it may even be better not to share your goal with anyone. It is just reality that people will not always see things the way you do or support you in the way you want them to. By all means tell the people who genuinely want you to succeed but think carefully before you do. There's a great Ted talk with an interesting view on sharing your goals that I will link to here
5. Re-evaluate your goal and your bite-sized steps occasionally.
Take a step back and look at how you’re progressing. You may need to make changes to your action plan, change your schedule or be flexible at certain times. Overtime you will find your own unique method of setting and achieving goals that will naturally suit your personality and lifestyle.
Let me know how you go in the comments below!