You always hear that you must set goals for your life; do you? A goal is simply a result one is attempting to achieve. Certainly, we all have numerous results we seek to achieve. If you are not setting goals then clearly something is wrong. We live in a noisy world – so many things clamouring for your attention. Not setting goals will have you being tossed to and fro because you are not intent on specific focuses. Some of you do set goals which are great however, are you getting it right? The goal of this article is to teach you how to effectively set goals.

What Is Setting A Goal Or Goal Setting?

I realized that often time we assume people understand certain things when they do not. Setting a goal might seem like something we all understand but that can be a wrong assumption. Setting a goal entails devising a precise, concise, conscious, and deliberate action plan for achieving the desired outcome. This means just merely saying you will or plan to do something does not automatically make it setting a goal.

The SMART Approach

This could well be the heart of effective goal setting. SMART is an acronym standing for Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic (or Relevant) Time-Bound. This might all sound like a platitude but you would be amazed at how many people do not subscribe to this. You hear someone saying, ‘next year I want to make lots of money.’ That sounds like a good goal right? Well, it is not and many set their goals like this. How much money do you want to make? By when do you want to make this money? How will you measure your progress? Is the amount attainable in the first place?

All these questions should be answered in your set goal. Make your goals specific, make sure they are measurable (for monitoring and evaluation), are they realistic; are they necessary or needed, and give a timeline of when they should be achieved. Just by using this simple approach, you will get more done.

You Cannot Eat An Elephant At Once

Some of you do set goals but you make the mistake of setting unreasonable goals. That is why I am using the elephant analogy to illustrate the importance of breaking things down. Every goal you set must be further broken down into smaller-sized chunks that are manageable. Imagine I have to research on and write say, 90 articles in a month. If I look at that at a macro level – it seems overwhelming. How about if I break it down to say, I will write 3 articles per day. My goal no longer becomes necessarily writing 90 articles. Rather it becomes writing 3 articles per day. In goal setting breaking things down into smaller bits is a powerful mental or psychological hack.

Write Your Goals Down

You probably might have heard that you should write your goals down. Well, it is not just a baseless remark; it is premised on numerous studies that have been done. Some studies have found out that people are more than 40 per cent likely to achieve their goals if they write them down. Other studies have also shown that likelihood to achieve goals is enhanced 3-fold when some write them down. The psychology behind this is fascinating. There are two major things that writing goals down does to your brain.

One, the process of writing something down imprints it in your memory plus causes the brain to attach greater value to that which you have written. Two, the written material essentially becomes your reference point. That is why you hear that you must write goals down and put them where you can see them daily. This will have the effect of reinforcing them into your subconscious mind. Scientifically it is even said that people have a higher likelihood of remembering better something they have written themselves. I wish I could write more on this subject but it is central to effective goal setting.

A Goal Must Inspire Clear And Specific Action

A goal is about achieving a certain result, that is a given. Here is the mistake most people make – they do not tie to the goal specifics regarding what will be done. Yes, you do have an anticipated result but what exactly will you do? That must be clear in your goals; it should not be blurry. Let us suppose you want to generate US$500 every month – how will you do that? If it is from running your business you must define what and how much or many you will sell to achieve that goal. Setting goals with such clarity and specificity inspires action. Set your goals with an action-oriented tone rather than just focusing on the result alone.

Flexibility – An Overlooked Aspect

Of course, goals must be specific but that must not mean rigid. Objectivity is good which is why being specific is a good thing. However, we live in a fast-paced world with rapid changes almost daily. Goals must be flexible i.e. they should be and must be adjusted when needs are. Most people tend to fail because they remain rigid in their goals even when circumstances speak otherwise. Time and resources can end up being wasted pursuing results that might no longer be achievable. This is paramount because many become enslaved by their own goals. When needs are, be flexible but be careful to not use this as an excuse for laziness. Be flexible informed by objective insights borne out of monitoring and evaluation.

You must pay attention to these things and practise them. Studies have shown that over 90 per cent of people who come up with goals at the beginning of the year never follow through. Do not be caught up in the euphoria that setting goals give you. Most get stuck in that bubble and never actually execute their goals. Do not let that be you, be a doer, be a goal-getter (not just a goal setter).