Goal-setting is so important. It’s key to success in your professional life, and can even be used to find balance in your personal life as well.
It makes sense when you think about it. After all, without clear and actionable goals, life could take you in any number of different directions, and you’ll have a hard time ending up where you want to be. As you know, failing to plan is planning to fail. Without goals, you’re a ship at sea that’s not heading in any specific course.
But when it comes to setting realistic goals, ones that stick—it’s important to realize that there are two very different types of goals that come into play.
First, are long-term goals: your big, overarching objectives. These are things like “own my own business,” “become a lawyer,” or “buy my own home.” Long-term goals are big, and they require a significant amount of time to accomplish, often 3-5 years, or longer.
The second type of goal could also be called short-term goals, or “steps.” These are smaller subsets of your bigger goals and contain the actionable steps that you need to take to make things happen. So, for example, if your goal is to become a lawyer, the smaller steps you’ll need to take in order to do this will include: get accepted into university, earn a bachelor’s degree, get accepted into law school, earn your Juris Doctor degree, and pass your state bar exam!
When it comes to making plans for the future, both short and long-term goals are essential. These two will work together to help you achieve success. Think of big-picture goals as your destination and short-term plans as your map to get there. With this in mind, let’s look at some tips for setting both long-term and short-term goals.
Setting goals, especially for the first time can seem daunting or overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! Goal-setting should be an inspiring and freeing time where you bring to light everything you have been pondering for quite some time.
Keep in mind that the more specific and honest your goals are, the better the outcome will be. For instance, simply saying “I want to earn a lot of money,” is too vague to be of much use. Instead, look to land on something more actionable. Setting a goal like, “I want to start my own company, and generate revenues of $250,000 per year after three years,” is a far more specific and realistic goal.
Once you’ve made specific long-term goals, you can then break them up into smaller, short-term goals, or steps, that you can follow to achieve them.
Ready to start? Here are some tips to help you begin.
Set Aside Some Time
While it may sound basic, it’s important to first set aside some uninterrupted time where you can plan, brainstorm, and think. This can also be done as a couple, or with a close friend or ally. Find a place that works for you—a coffee shop is a great idea. Bring along some paper and a pencil for note-taking. At your meeting, whether you’re by yourself or with your ally, you’ll want to start by asking open-ended questions, and thinking about where your life is currently and where you’d like it to be. This will involve some deep brainstorming and brutal honesty, but don’t be afraid to get it all out on the table. Once you have an idea about where you’d like to see yourself in a few years, you can then start the process of planning out the steps to make it happen. Keep in mind that you may need to hold several of these meetings, in order to fully work out what it is that you want to do, and how you’re going to realistically accomplish it.
Make a List
Make a list of all the things you’d like to accomplish. Be sure to write everything down, don’t be alarmed at the length, the point is to get everything down. Ask yourself questions such as, “What do I want to do? Where do I want to live? How much do I want to make? Where do I want to end up? How do I want to feel?” These questions will help you to determine your goals.
Identify The Goals That You Want to Reach
Once you’ve got everything down, it’s time to take a serious look at your list, and determine which one, or perhaps two or three goals, you’d most like to reach. Which things will bring you the most happiness? Which ones take clear precedence over the others? Once you’ve identified the most important or pressing issues on the list you’ll then be able to start breaking them up into doable steps.
Break Them Up
Now it’s time to break up your goals into smaller steps. What steps do you need to take to reach your longer-term goals? If your goal is to start a business, you’ll want to make a list of everything that you need to make it happen. This could include things like doing research, making a plan, planning your finances, choosing and registering a business name, and getting licensing and permits. Once you’ve created a list, you’ll want to assign a timeframe to each one, and put them down in your planner or calendar to ensure that they get done.
While goal-setting can be challenging and time-consuming, it’s definitely worth doing. In order to end up where you want to be, it’s important to create a plan to get there. Being clear about what you want and creating steps to make it happen is by far the best place to start.
Have you tried goal-setting before? How did it go? Share your tips with us in the comments!
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