Goal Planning—How You Can Set and Achieve Your Goals
How many of us make resolutions every year and find ourselves never really accomplishing what we originally set out to do? Most of us want to accomplish some sort of objective or purpose but find it difficult to actually set out on a structured plan that can help us achieve our goals. How can we meet this challenge and make setting goals and accomplishing those goals a reality?
A Specific and Measured Approach
Setting goals is more than just saying, "I want to be more productive." Or, "I want to be more organized." These types of goals are general and don't really provide a measured objective.
It's much better if we set goals like this:
- I want to be more productive by getting up every morning at 7:00 am and completing two high priority tasks by 8:00 am.
- I want to be more organized by making sure everything on my desk has a designated place.
Do you notice the difference? These types of goals are specific and can be measured. As time goes on you will be able to realistically say whether or not your are working towards achieving your goals.
Having a specific and measured approach provides us an “image” of our goal, something that we can visualize. Visualizing an objective makes it tangible to us, something that we can “see”, “taste”, and “touch”. This feedback will motivate us to press forward towards our goals.
Set Goals For Your Goals
When we set a particular goal it's almost like we are embarking on a long trip to a specific destination. If we were going to take a road trip from Phoenix, AZ to Chicago, IL most of aren't going to drive without making stops along the way. We should do the same thing on our journey to achieving our goals.
The difference is, these "pit stops" are short-term goals that we have set to help lead us to our ultimate goal. These stops help us to see how far we have gone towards accomplishing our goals and allow an opportunity to reflect on what we've done to get to the point where we're at.
For example, if our goal is to wake up every morning at 7:00 am and complete two high priority tasks within one hour, our first "pit stop" could be figuring out our priorities and placing them in a task management application or bullet-journal. Next we could start understanding the difference between important and urgent tasks. Then we could start categorizing our priorities by what we need to get done first.
These "pit stops" are essential steps to accomplishing the long-term goal of getting up every morning at 7:00 am and completing two high priority tasks within one hour because in order to complete two high priority tasks, you first need to know what your priorities are and which ones would be designated "high priority". Without doing this you would end up waking up at 7:00 am and subsequently waste a lot of time, because you have no direction. Then you would eventually give up and tell yourself "I'm not the productive type" or "I'm not good at accomplishing my goals." The issue here would be that you needed to set goals for your goals. Always set short-term goals that lead you to your ultimate long-term goal.
Have A Deadline
Another very important step to planning and achieving your goals is to make sure you set a deadline for the accomplishment of your goal. The date you set for your deadline should be realistic and practical but at the same time you shouldn’t give yourself too much time.
If you don’t set a deadline then you can’t plan, your short-term goals won’t be as effective, and measuring your progress will be almost impossible. Having goals gives you a destination but how would you feel if you took a flight to New York, NY and the flight had no arrival time?
How I Goal Plan
Personally, I use a tool called Notion that helps me plan and achieve my goals. My system works like this:
- I have a "Goals" project where I've set up my long-term goals as "non-completed" tasks (non-completed tasks in the Todoist application are tasks that can’t be “checked off” or “swiped away”).
- I then create tasks for my short-term "pit stop" goals that lead me towards my long-term goal (these are tasks that can be completed and “checked off”).
- Weekly I have a "check your Goals Project" reminder which helps me remember to look over the specific goals that I have planned out and reflect on them.
- Whenever my goals come up for review, I place comments on them stating my progress.
- Each goal also has a deadline set for it to be accomplished.
You must have a structured system in place in order to properly plan and take the necessary steps to achieve your goals. If you find yourself constantly setting goals but never reaching them, it may be because you have neglected this important step. Maybe the first goal you must set is to do just that.
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