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The key to achieving success is setting goals. Goals are what motivate us and push us to be the best version of ourselves. It's not enough. You must also know how to set a goal you’ll actually accomplish.
Here are 25 strategies for goal-setting success.
Why is goal setting important?
The definition of goal setting is the act of creating a specific result. Setting goals helps us better understand what we want and how our actions will benefit others (or ourselves). If you are not sure why it's important to set goals, think about this – would you be more motivated in your work if there was an expected outcome?
Goals vs. Objectives
One key distinction between objectives and goals is that while both have outcomes associated with them, only one has a deadline for completion. Objectives must be completed within specific time frames but do not always have concrete deadlines or milestones built into them.
A good example might be increasing your income.
On the other hand, goals often have concrete deadlines or time frames associated with them and tangible milestones that need to be hit to be considered successful.
One popular goal example is saving up $20,000 for a down payment on a house within three years.
The different types of goals you might set
There are many different types of goals you might set in your life – from professional to personal ones and everything in between. The following list will give you an idea of some common goal categories:
– Career Goals: Examples include increasing revenue by 25% over the next two years, landing a new client, or a promotion.
– Financial Goals: Examples include saving up for a down payment on a house or car, creating and sticking to a budget, or investing in stocks or mutual funds.
– Relationship Goals: Examples include getting married, having children, spending more time together as a family unit, or traveling to new places with your partner.
– Health and Fitness Goals: Examples include losing weight, running a marathon, becoming fit enough to bench press your own body weight, or completing a Tough Mudder race.
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– Personal Growth Goals: These can be anything from learning to play the guitar to mastering meditation techniques.
Make sure you know your why
One of the most important things you can do before setting any goal is to make sure you know your “why.”
Why do you want to achieve this particular outcome? What will it mean for you or others if you reach your goal? If you don't have a good reason for wanting to achieve something, it's going to be that much harder to stick with your goal in the long run.
Tip #1: Consider What You Are Passionate About
One of the best ways to set goals that you will be excited to achieve is to consider what you are passionate about. When we focus on things that excite us, it becomes much easier to muster up the motivation needed to see them through.
Tip #2: Only Set Goals for Things You Can Control
One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to goal setting is trying to control things outside their realm of influence. For example, you might set a goal to get a promotion at work, but if your boss has other plans or is not interested in promoting you, then you will be unable to achieve this goal.
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Tip #3: Visualize Your Future Self
One powerful way to increase your chances of achieving a goal is to visualize yourself having already accomplished it. Visualizing involves seeing yourself as the new and improved version of yourself that you want to become.
Tip #4: Use the Smart Goal Template
One of the most popular goal-setting templates is called SMART, which stands for:
Specific: What exactly do you want to accomplish?
Measurable: How will you know when you've reached your goal?
Achievable: Is this a realistic and attainable result or just wishful thinking?
Realistic: Will achieving this particular goal be possible given all existing circumstances (time constraints, costs associated with it, etc.)?
Timely: What is the time frame you would like to achieve this goal? How much time will it take and what steps must you take daily to reach your result by that deadline?
Tip #5: Write Down Your Goals
One of the most effective ways to achieve your goals is to write them down. This simple act will help put your objectives front and center in your mind, which makes it much harder to forget about or neglect them.
Tip #6: Make a Vision Board
Another powerful goal-setting strategy is to make a vision board. Start cutting out images and words representing your goals from magazines or other sources, sticking them on poster board, and then hanging it up somewhere you will see them every day (such as above your desk).
Tip #7: Get Feedback From Others
One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting their personal goals is not getting feedback from others. One of my favorite strategies for reaching any professional or personal goal is to find someone who has already attained what I'm trying to achieve and ask them how they did it.
Tip #8: Break It Down Into Smaller Milestones
It can be tough to know where to start, let alone stay focused long enough to see them through when wanting to accomplish significant goals. That's why it's a good idea to break down your goals into smaller milestones that you can achieve regularly. Breaking the goal down makes the overall end result feel less daunting while still providing a sense of accomplishment and progress as you move closer to completion.
Tip #9: Set Deadlines for Yourself
Deadlines help keep yourself accountable and reach your desired outcome within the set timeframe. When we have no specific time limit in place, it's easy for our goals to drift off into never-never land slowly. But when we establish a deadline, it puts pressure on us to take action and reach our objective sooner rather than later.
Tip #10: Celebrate Each Success Along the Way
One of the essential strategies for keeping yourself motivated and on track is to celebrate every success along your journey – no matter how small they may seem at first.
Tip #11: Avoid Comparison-Itis
One of the biggest traps we can fall into is comparisonitis when it comes to goal setting. This is when we compare our progress (or lack thereof) to that of others and become discouraged. The key to overcoming this obstacle is staying focused on your journey and what you're doing to achieve your goals, rather than getting wrapped up in what everyone else is doing.
Tip #12: Have a Support System
It's much harder to reach any goal without a support system – whether that be from friends, family members, or an online community of like-minded individuals. When we have people rooting for us and cheering us on, it helps keep us motivated and accountable during the journey.
Tip #13: Take Advantage of Technology
One of the best things about technology is that it can help us achieve our goals in several different ways. Countless apps, tools, and websites can assist us with everything from goal setting and planning to tracking our progress and staying accountable.
Tip #14: Make a Commitment to Yourself
When we commit to someone else, we usually want to honor that person's trust and not let them down. The same holds true when we commit to ourselves – only this time, the stakes are even higher. By pledging to do whatever it takes to reach our goals, we're putting all our chips on the table and signaling how serious we are about achieving them.
Tip #15: Use Positive Affirmations
When it comes to goal setting, positive affirmations can be effective tools. By repeating mantras such as “I am capable of anything” or “I can do anything, I put my mind to,” we're sending a strong message from the deeper parts of our psyche that will help us feel more confident and optimistic about our chances for success.
Tip #16: Don't Give Up, Even When Things Get Tough
One of the biggest obstacles in goal setting is knowing when to push through all the challenges and difficulties, especially when things get tricky. The truth is that learning how to persevere is often one of the most valuable lessons you can learn on your journey towards reaching any objective or destination.
Tip #17: Have an Accountability Partner
An accountability partner can be a precious resource for goal setting. Find someone who you commit to regularly checking in with and reporting on your progress, thereby helping to keep you both accountable and motivated.
Tip #18: Take Action
You need to take action towards your goals. This may mean setting a deadline or breaking your goal into smaller tasks. Whatever it takes, make sure you take action and start moving closer to your goals.
Write your goals down. If they’re in your head, they are just dreams.
Tip #19: Don't Forget the Bigger Picture
It's too easy to get so wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks and activities associated with goal setting that we forget about the bigger picture. For example, let's say your goal is to lose weight by going on a special diet for three months. If you're only concerned with achieving this specific outcome, it may be tempting to give up as soon as you hit a few bumps along the way – even if those bumps are just normal weight fluctuations over time. By taking a step back and reminding ourselves why our goals matter, we can more easily overcome small challenges without letting them derail us from what matters most.
Tip #20: Set Goals That Challenge You
When setting goals, it's important to find a balance between challenging yourself without becoming overwhelmed. Find objectives that push you out of your comfort zone but are still realistically attainable. By doing this, you'll increase your chances of success and learn valuable lessons along the way.
Tip #21: Make Your Goal(s) Public
Another great way to stay accountable and motivated when setting goals is by making them public. You can do this in a few different ways: share your goal with others, post it on social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter, write about your plans for the future in an online journal, etc. Even if you choose not to make your goal(s) entirely public (such as sharing only within certain groups), just knowing that there are other people out there who will be reading these updates may be enough motivation for you to keep going.
Tip #22: Evaluate Your Goal(s) Regularly
It's important to periodically evaluate our goals to make sure they are still relevant and challenging us the way we want them to. Evaluating could mean setting aside some time each month or quarter to reflect on your progress, revisit your original goal statement, make any necessary changes, or ask yourself whether you're still happy with what you're trying to achieve.
Tip #23: Stay Focused on the Process, Not the Outcome
When working towards a goal, it's essential to focus on the process rather than the outcome. Stay positive even when things get tough, celebrate each small victory along the way, and be patient as we slowly but surely move closer to our objectives.
Tip #24: Set Goals for Short- And Long-Term Success
It's helpful to set short-term and long-term goals to stay on track over several months or years. We want to achieve short-term goals within a relatively short period – usually a few weeks or months. On the other hand, long-term goals may take years (or even decades) to complete.
Tip #25: Say No to Things That Don't Help You Achieve Your Goals
Finally, it's important to say “no” to things that don't help you move towards your goals – even if they seem fun or exciting.
Whatever it may be in your specific case, just remember that saying no can increase productivity levels and give us more room in our schedules for pursuing our dreams.
Goal setting is important because it allows us to focus our efforts on what we want to achieve in life. By following the tips mentioned in this article, you'll be able to set relevant and challenging goals – leading you down the path of success.
As a certified credit counselor and syndicated writer at MaxMyMoney, Max has coached over 250 Millennials to help take the stress out of money. When Max is not coaching, you'll find him reading financial books, indoor cycling, or visiting local pawn shops looking for swiss-made watches.