Setting Personal Goals: Lay Out a Path to Your Future
This step is where you begin to set your goals – from a place where you have clearly identified what you want and where you have reconciled with your past. If you’re lacking in that clarity, go back and write down what you think you want – in all domains of your life. And if you still feel a strong sense of cynicism, go back and examine the potential beliefs that are sure to sabotage you…and replace them with new beliefs that to you are liberating. This article prescribes an approach for detailing goals that will take you where you want to go.
This is the third of a series of four articles on “Setting Personal Goals”, where we explore some of the nuances that will put you on the path to achieving greater levels of personal success. This article, Part 3 in the series, “Lay Out a Path to Your Future,” provides a fresh prescription for setting your goals once you have clarity and have dealt with the past. Part 1, “Write Down What You Want”, looks at your desires as the first step – not the last – toward achieving your goals. Part 2, “Reconcile With the Past,” looks at ways of dealing with your past…to overcome the cynicism that may have crept into your thinking. Finally, Part 4, “Be Grateful Every Day”, encourages you to take on an attitude of gratitude in order to maintain positive thinking in the face of obstacles to achieving your goals.
Here are some standards to consider as guidelines for the goals you write:
- Keep list to 7-10 goals – It’s good to prioritize and limit yourself. Otherwise, you may become overwhelmed and lose motivation. You can always add – and subtract – as you see fit later.
- Use SMARTER as a guide – Michael Hyatt has laid out this list of qualifying parameters for solid goals: Specific, to enable focus; Measurable, to gauge progress; Actionable, to enable you to take action; Risky, outside your comfort zone; Time-keyed, to motivate short-term action; Exciting, for inspiration; and Relevant, to eliminate mental conflict.
- Identify as habit or achievement – It’s OK – even advisable – to have goals in each. They can also easily complement each other.
- Specify a quarterly time frame – You cannot do everything at once. Pick a time frame for each of the goals: 1Q, 2Q, 3Q, or 4Q. Make sure you start off with just a few in 1Q and go after them to avoid being discouraged.
- Have goals spread over several domains – The are the domains from the first article in this series: Mental, Physical Health, Relationships, Occupational, Fiscal. You don’t need something in each of them necessarily, but you should have at least 3-4 of them covered in order to keep a holistic perspective on this.
- Write down what motivates you – This is key to having resilience against the obstacles that you surely will face. Imagine something challenging that you might encounter while striving toward each goal. What will motivate you to keep up the fight?
- List the near-term steps – For each goal, sketch out a few initial steps you’ll need to take to get moving.
- Put in place some action prompts – These are some friendly – and motivating – reminders of your goals. They could be a little note card on your bathroom mirror, or in your computer bag, or an object that you’ll recognize as a motivator.
Have you put your goals to the test…to give yourself the best chance of achieving them?
This Post is Part of the Series: Setting Personal Goals
These articles explore some of the nuances that will put you on the path to achieving greater levels of personal success.