Personal Goal Setting is the Key to Getting What You Want - Here's How to Do It

Personal goal setting is natural.  In one sense, we all have an in-built ability to know how to set goals, whether we know it or not.

It’s hard-wired into all of us in the form of every single action we perform. Your most recent ‘goal’ was to click to this web page!

Goal setting is something you already do.

The trouble is, most goals are unconscious. We react to whatever grabs our attention.

Hungry? The goal is a sandwich. Tired? It’s all about sleep. Bored? What will alleviate that? These goals are stimulated by reactions.

The alternative

Goal setting doesn’t have to be reactive. The alternative is proactive or conscious personal goal setting; much less common, far more powerful.

When you react, your ‘goals’ are, in essence, reflexes that do little more than scratch the latest itch. They send you off on a tangent that almost certainly doesn’t align with your roles and values.

Proactive goals match them to who you are and what you care about. Your values, roles, goals and actions are all in alignment. The result? Power, flow, effect and, ultimately, achievement. It’s as if you’re hammering straight down onto a nail, not from some obscure angle.

We all want to achieve in life. Whether it’s a possession, a position or a state of mind, everybody wants something. Within reason, anyone can achieve anything, as long as they're prepared to pay the price for it.

Personal goal setting costs time

This is where goal setting meets time management.

Goals cost time, which is finite. If you choose to be, do or have something, you choose to exclude something else, at least for now.

Think of a restaurant you love. When you decide what to order, you decide not to order the other dishes (don’t you?!) Like a menu, time is limited -- there is only so much of it.

Your goals dictate your time or your time dictates your goals.

Many people don’t choose conscious goals because they ‘don’t have time’. What they mean is, they won’t make time. It’s not a high enough priority. If they knew the importance of goal setting they probably would make the time.

So, where are we? A quick recap:

  • We all constantly set goals.
  • They are either proactive or reactive.
  • We all want to achieve.
  • Goals cost time.

You can’t avoid personal goal setting -- you will pursue goals, either consciously or unconsciously, and they will help or harm you, depending on what you decide to do at the moment of your choices.

When you really think about it, what sort of goals do you tend to choose? Do they contribute to your well being? Knowing how to set goals that do that will improve your quality of life immeasurably.

How to set goals and actually achieve them

As previously mentioned, everyone knows how to set goals. Not so many people consciously choose ones that will genuinely add value to their lives and the lives of others. Sure, they achieve goals constantly; but they tend to set them reactively.

How do you recognize these types of goals?

They’re easy. They don’t take you out of your comfort zone, they don’t excite you, and they don’t make a difference. They merely dull the pain for a while.

Do you want to take personal goal setting seriously?

All of your ambitions and aspirations depend on your choice to learn how to set goals and your willingness to then achieve them.

Here’s how to set goals that will make a difference.

1. Focus your efforts

Choose just one goal at a time for each role you have. You’ll be more effective if you concentrate your time and efforts this way.

Your goals need to be big enough to be called worthy, but not so big that you become overwhelmed, lose focus and dilute motivation.

2. Make sure it matters

Why climb a mountain and not enjoy the view? Before you do anything else, check your goal is congruent with your purpose, priorities and principles. In other words, decide before you do.

Does your job align with your values? Do your relationships? What about you social life or finances?

Goals well chosen lead to time well spent.

3. Develop desire

Deep, intense desire is the motivating force that enables you to overcome the fear and inertia that has held you back. It needs to be personal -- that means that it’s yours, not someone else’s.

To develop desire, employ a few goal setting strategies that actually work.

4. Clarify what you want

Personal goal setting is far more effective if you specify what you want with as much detail as possible.

Use dates, times and numbers in conjunction with SMART goal setting to determine what you want and when you want it by in relation to where you are now.

5. Write it down

Goals in your head give you something to dream about. Of all the tips on setting goals, writing them down is the most powerful -- it gives you something to aim for.

Once it’s out of your head you open up the power of marketing to yourself -- you can sell it to yourself, regardless of how you feel. Use free printable goal setting templates to build on your initial commitment.

6. Build your belief

You can only achieve what your mind will believe. If your subconscious says no, you won’t take the necessary action to make it happen.

Even if, at first you did take action, sooner or later you’d realize the scale of what’s before you. The motivation won’t be there, and you’ll ‘prove’ to yourself you can’t do it.

7. Jump the humps

Anything that’s worth achieving will put obstacles in your way. Some obstacles will seem difficult, if not impossible. But obstacles define goals. If you don’t have any ‘humps to jump’ you’re not working towards anything.

Remember that obstacles can be made easier if you break them down.

8. Acquire information

You know how to set goals -- you're reading about it! But you don’t have all the knowledge or skills you need to reach your goal.  Don't worry though -- you have a team who do. You may not know them. They may never even know they helped you; but they have everything you need.  

Your job? To pull it all together. Whatever you need to buy, borrow, rent or learn, it’s all out there.

9. Use a plan

What have you actually got to do? A personal goal setting plan will help break it down into sub-goals, projects and tasks. You want to get to the point when you know what your next physical action is, and when you'll be able to do it.  

Pilots use a flight plan so they stay or get back on course. Personal goal setting works if you use a goal plan to tackle tasks sequentially and simultaneously. Expect to revise and fine tune your plans as you go.

10. Commit to persist

This is an attitude, the attitude, that will get you to your goals. When you commit, you do it, regardless of today’s feelings or tomorrow’s challenges.

Taking regular, focused action every single day, however small, is the key to knowing how to achieve goals.

Personal goal setting isn’t hard once you have a clear idea how to set goals that contribute to your personal development.

Do that, and we all benefit.


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