Why set ourselves goals? Surely the goalposts continuously change anyway, so why bother? Wouldn’t this add even more pressure to our already manically busy and stressed lives? The truth is that we are often so focused on what we are doing that we lose sight of where we are going.
I’ve been on both sides of the fence. I’ve had periods in my life of living from one day to the next and counting the days and hours to the weekend. Professionally, I didn’t know where I was going and what I really wanted to do. The days, weeks and months that passed now feel rather wasted. I was unhappy with myself and there were moments when I even felt depressed. Then, there have been periods when I’ve known what I wanted and I pursued it relentlessly and these are the times when I felt driven and happy. Regular goal setting has transformed my life over the past year.
I really didn’t like the word ‘goal’ to begin with. It felt too harsh, but I will use it for the purpose of simplicity in this article. Goals, outcomes, dreams with a date, objectives, or positive intentions, however you choose to call them, boil down to how you really want to live your life and what you want to achieve.
So, why bother?
Focusing on the right things: Spending time to think about what is truly important to us and we really want in life gives us focus and direction on how to spend our time and energy. Having a plan of action and taking regular steps toward achieving what we want means we are far more likely to get there than if we were just wishing for it. Going through the daily grind day after day, year after year may mean that we wander aimlessly or we are climbing up the ladder that is leaning against the wrong wall if we don’t make time to think of what it is that we really want out of life.
Happiness, fulfilment: Setting ourselves what to aim for gives us purpose and meaning. As we make strides toward what we want in life, we feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction, which in turn makes us happy. It’s important to remember that it’s all about the journey and not just the destination. As life goes on, we develop, our circumstances and environments change, our priorities shift and what we want alters. So, it’s best to make a habit of reviewing our goals regularly to make sure that they are still relevant.
Work-Life Balance: In our 100 miles per hour lives, we are constantly battling against competing priorities. Figure out your top five priorities and work on them. Set goals in the areas that are important in your life to help you achieve that elusive work-life balance everyone is talking about. Make sure that they cover your personal growth (skills, knowledge, hobbies), health (physical and mental) and your relationships, as well as your professional development. Naturally, sometimes you will focus more on one than the others, but by having things to aim for in these four areas, it will help you get back on track to living a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.
How to set goals and why SMART just won’t cut it
SMART isn’t good enough. At work, we are told that the magic formula to setting objectives is they need to be SMART. Yes, they need to be specific so we know exactly what we are aiming for and when we’ve got there. They do need to be measurable so we know what we need to do and/or how well we’ve done. There is no point in setting goals that are unattainable because we would find them overwhelming and we won’t bother pursing them, not for long anyway. There are studies* backing up that people who record their goals accomplish significantly more than those who don’t. Of course, we need to have a time-frame to achieving our dreams – as Napoleon Hill said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline”. However, SMART alone is just not good enough.
What other ingredients do we need to make our goals a success?
Essential ingredients to achieving the outcomes we want include:
Positivity – we are more likely to know what we don’t want rather than what we want. However, we get what we focus on because our subconscious mind doesn’t accept negative thoughts. So, focus on the jean size or the pretty dress you want to fit in to, rather than the weight you want to lose.
Congruency – with what’s important to you and who you are as a person.
Inspiration and Motivation – think of what motivates you, what really drives you, what excites you, what difference achieving what you want to achieve will really make to you and those around you.
Challenge – what you want to achieve needs to be challenging enough to be stimulating to keep at it. If it’s too easy it’s pointless to aim for it. So, dream big but chunk it up into small manageable steps along your journey or your enthusiasm will fade over time and you might find all that needs to be done too overwhelming.
Relevancy – keep it relevant. As I mentioned earlier, there is no point in climbing up the ladder that is leaning against the wrong wall. Life changes, so do our priorities.
Appreciation – celebrate your successes along the way. Appreciating what you achieve on a daily basis make you feel happier and gives you a sense of fulfilment and keeps you going when the going gets tough.
If this article has given you some food for thought or you would like to get back on track with your goals, then book your free insight consultation.
* According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals.