Proper Goal Setting

Everyone sets goals of one description or another; eat less, exercise more, give up smoking, save money, don’t go out as much, don’t drink so much etc. Most of these form part of a drunken New Years Resolution, or a promise to yourself when you’re feeling the consequences of too much of something. It’s a normal behaviour to have, and after all, everyone does it. There are a few problems with this type of vague goal setting, and these are the reasons why you never achieve them:

  1. You are usually in a completely wrong state when it is set, i.e. you are not feeling motivated.
  2. They are all stated in the negative – the unconscious mind does not process negatives.
  3. Are they goals, or just vague outcomes?

The good news is that we can do something about it. Let’s be serious about these goals, shall we? They look as though they’re going to make your life better, so they must be worth it. Here are a few tips to help you set goals that you may actually be able to achieve.

  1. Motivation – Work out what the reason is for you wanting to achieve the goal in the first place. Ask yourself, for what purpose do I want to do this? e.g be healthier, be richer, have more self-respect etc.
  2. Impact – Think about who will be positively impacted by you achieving this goal, think of different areas of your life, work, social, family etc. Who’s going to benefit from you achieving?
  3. Write them down – State them using the SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Based) Really think about what it is exactly that you want to achieve and by when you want to achieve it by, and make it realistic.
  4. Plan – Make a plan for how you are going to achieve the goal, and then stick to it.
  5. Publicise it – There is no better motivator than telling other people what you are trying to do. Tell the people that you identified in no.2 above, how they are going to benefit from your change and get them to support you. When it’s out there, it becomes real.
  6. Go Steady – Don’t rush off with a nice, new shiny behaviour and milk it for all it’s worth in the first week. You will get sick of it, and quit shortly afterwards.
  7. Don’t be too hard – If life was easy we’d all be perfect. Things happen, things get in the way, and it’s easy to slip back. Instead of throwing your hands up and claiming that you can’t do it, notice the slip back for what it is and carry on.

Goal Setting sounds like something that you have to do at work, once a year, and not think about again for another year. But this should be applied to anything that you want to achieve in your life. Make it fun, make it rewarding, make it exciting, make it so that you really want to do it. This is your life and there are no rules. Just make sure that you know what you want because without this cornerstone in place, how will you ever know that you have it.

If you would like to know more about how to set goals and make changes in your life, please go to for further advice.

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