…and Seeing Them Through
Setting goals will boost your self-confidence and help you discover the meaning and purpose of your life. It’ll propel you into action and seeing your progress will give you great satisfaction.
“Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.” – Dale Carnegie
Knowing What You Really Want
It’s possible to pursue and accomplish a goal, only to find out that the dream in your heart was something entirely different. Sometimes, the journey to the goal is more enjoyable than actually attaining it.
“People with goals succeed because they know where they are going. It’s as simple as that.” – Earl Nightingale
Avoid setting vague goals like being a “good” writer. Be specific! Instead, decide that you want to become a best selling science fiction author. Instead of deciding to make “a lot” of money, commit to a specific salary figure as the goal you pursue. Instead of saying that you want to get married, determine the qualities your ideal mate will possess.
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Abraham Lincoln
Set Measurable Goals
Your goals should be measurable in time (how long they will take to achieve) and in quantity. For example, decide whether you want to quit smoking or cut down on the number of cigarettes. Your brain needs clear instructions to know where to begin. Giving your mind a clear direction keeps you from procrastinating.
“If you try to figure out how you will get what you want, you will limit yourself to what your ego or conditioned mind can do. The key to creating what you want is to turn your desire or your goal over to your subconscious – which is connected to the Universal Mind or Universal Subconscious – and let it bring the goal to you and you to your goal.” – Dr. Robert Anthony
Start with an overall vision of your life and decide on the long-term goals you want to achieve. The next step is to break these down into the smaller goals that will lead you to realizing your lifetime goals.
To make this clearer, let’s take the example of Barbara, whose lifetime goal is to be a famous novelist. In order to turn her dream into reality, she must draw up a plan of action comprised of smaller goals, such as:
- Reading the kind of books she wants to write
- Writing a page a day
- Keeping a journal
- Joining a creative writing workshop where she can get feedback on her work
- Doing a course in fiction writing at an acclaimed university
- Completing her manuscript
- Looking for agents and publishers
Chances are good that you’ll have more than one lifetime goal. Apart from her artistic goal, Barbara can look at the other areas of her life (career, financial, education, spiritual, family, and relationships) and create a lifetime goal for each.
Ensure Your Goals Reflect Your Own Desires
If you want your goals to be achievable, let them be your own idea. Chase the dreams of your heart, rather than the aspirations others have for your life. For example, if you want to lose weight just because your partner wants you to (and you’re happy with your body), your lack of motivation will snuff out the success you seek.
“One’s philosophy is not the best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Keep it Realistic
Determine if you have the ability, or can gain the necessary skills, to achieve your goals. Take into account any limitations you may have to work with that could make the journey longer or force you to make adjustments along the way.
For instance, Ralph has a chronic respiratory challenge that requires hospital care from time to time. Since he doesn’t have access to a hospital out at sea, this will likely prevent him from being the first man to sail around the world.
“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.” – W. Clement Stone
Set a Deadline for Your Goals
If you’ve given yourself 10 years to achieve some large goals, divide that time frame into increments to achieve smaller goals that will lead up to your large goal. The next step is to set a one-year plan, a six-month plan, and a one-month plan. Decide what you’ll achieve in these time frames.
For example, Barbara can set the tasks it takes to complete her manuscript within reasonable time frames for her. Perhaps she would give herself a month to plan out her novel and then a month to write each chapter. When her initial writing is finished, she might give herself 3 months to revise it (including the time she must let the work alone so she can return to it with fresh eyes), and another six months to find a publisher.
Tailor your tasks for your goals and your time frames around what works for you! This sets you up with a reasonable expectation of the time it will take you to achieve each goal. Adjust your timeline as necessary to move past challenges along the way as you pursue your goal, but always have the big picture, with your ultimate success, in mind.
“Goals give you a compass in order to direct your path through life. Goals focus your thoughts and actions on areas that have precise purpose and meaning.” – Catherine Pulsifer
Plan your Daily Routine
Next, decide on the things you’ll do each day to achieve your smaller goals. Barbara will write a page every day. She’ll fill in her journal every week. If you stick to your daily routine, you’ll remain motivated (see also ‘Your Best Book For Discipline‘).
Once you’ve divided your lifetime goals into smaller ones, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed, but all you have to do is prioritize your intermediate goals and keep them practical and achievable. Writing down your goals helps clarify them and also reminds you of them when life is trying to distract you.
“Instead of worrying about what people say of you, why not spend time trying to accomplish something they will admire.” – Dale Carnegie
The Adventure and Joy of Goal Setting
Your life will be much more exciting once you’ve set your goals. Every little goal reached will boost your self-confidence and your enjoyment of life. You’ll banish boredom because there’s always something to do and a pot of gold to look forward to at the end of your rainbow. Always keep a journal with your achieved goals and revel in your success.
“The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment.” – Earl Nightingale
Help With Setting Goals
The following questions will help you begin the process of goal setting. Answer them honestly:
- How balanced is your life? Do you constantly encounter extremes in circumstances? For instance, you might feel too rushed or too stressed out to spend enough time on the things that are important and worthwhile. How can you balance your life and schedule time each day to work toward your goal?
- Do you have a sense of purpose? What are your most important core values? What matters most to you? What goals can you set that support this purpose?
- Are your thought and behavior patterns getting in the way of a happy, successful life? Are you habitually pessimistic? Are your feelings of success dependent on what others think of you? How could you banish these limiting beliefs?
Once you have some answers, you can ask yourself which of these areas are the most important for you to work on. Write down the benefits of the goal you set and the challenges you’re likely to face on your journey.
Be prepared to flow with the changes in your life. This way, you’ll be in sync with the universal flow and life will run much more smoothly. The only constant in life is change.
As you grow older, your priorities may change. Choose the goals that are most important to you now. Put yourself in control of the changes ahead.
“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless
he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
What Does Success Mean to You?
Answering these questions honestly will help you set the goals that mean the most to you.
- What is your definition of success? Is it achieving material goals, great relationships, or spiritual awareness?
- Can you visualize your life after you’ve achieved your goals? Remember that the more your success depends on the approval of others, the harder it will be to achieve and maintain. But if you chase the dreams in your heart, those you love will be blessed by your efforts as well.
- How does your definition of success affect you and those you care about most? For instance, if your goal is to get that coveted promotion, how will it affect the time you have for yourself and others?
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Zig Zigler