Goal setting has been proven to increase motivation, productivity and decision making. However, we are often too busy working, or supporting someone else’s career, to sit back and think about what we want to achieve in both our personal and professional lives.
In this week’s blog, I look at some top tips for how you can set yourself goals, and ways in which to achieve them.
Most common challenges of goal setting
First things first, you need to get over the biggest hurdle: giving yourself some time.
One of the challenges we all face is time, and we only have a certain amount of it left after everyone else has taken some. I find that setting a date around two or three weeks in advance means that my calendar is quieter, so I don’t often have to move or cancel something.
Once you have popped in dedicated time for yourself, it’s important that you protect it. The first thing we often sacrifice, or allow someone else to take, is our own personal time – and we need to change that mindset.
Your time is as valuable as someone else’s, so once it is in your diary, make sure that you don't move it or let anyone double book you.
Another reason I like to book my time in advance is that it gives me two or three constructive weeks to think leading up to it, so that when the time comes, it is productive and well planned.
The next hurdle is the goal itself.
You don’t have to think big if you don’t want to. It is okay to have small, easily achievable goals – especially if you are onboarding new staff and looking to motivate them from day one.
If, however, you are setting a big goal, set yourself up for success. Look at what the objective is and see how you can break it down into smaller goals that can be celebrated as they are achieved.
Steps to creating a goal setting strategy
It is important to find a strategy that works for you when setting goals, and that you use SMART Goal Setting.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound, which means that each goal you set will be clearly defined, realistically achievable, and relevant to you or your long-term focus with an achievable deadline.
Here are a few of my top tips to setting effective goals.
- Seeking feedback from others is a great method to understand which areas you can improve on. Ensure that you speak to your team, managers, stakeholders, family and friends, and set goals based on their feedback.
- Staying motivated and focused on your goal is important, and it is likely some may easily fall by the wayside as we live busy lives. Therefore, it is important to track progress regularly. I personally like to set time to myself every two or three weeks for one hour, where I can use this time to review progress, look at what obstacles stand in my way and how I can overcome these.
- Being organised helps me stay focused. I like to write my goals down on post-it notes, which I have on a wall in my office. Did you know that according to a study by Dominican University of California, people who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them? I didn’t know this fact prior to researching for this blog, but there is nothing more satisfying than taking down a post-it note and throwing it into the bin, knowing you have achieved it.
- I have worked with people in the past who like to write an action plan for each of their goals which detail how they are going to achieve them, what resources they need to achieve the goal, obstacles they are aware of, and then a column for updates. Although more time consuming, it is visually appealing and allows you to have a document to keep over time that you could use to reflect on.
Staying focused after setting your goals
Many of the goals we set ourselves play a bigger role in our lives, such as achieving a qualification or getting a promotion. As mentioned, it is important to break these larger goals down into smaller ones, to celebrate each win towards the overall goal. This will keep you motivated towards the result.
Regularly checking in to review your goals will help reinforce their importance in your mind and ensure that you are accountable for their successes. Not all goals will be smooth sailing, so be prepared to adjust your approach and stay positive.
It can be very easy to become withdrawn or negative when a goal is not achieved. However, look at what made it fail, what you can do to overcome it next time, brush yourself off, and start again. Do not see failure as a negative, but instead flip it on its head as a positive as it will make you stronger, teach you new skills and enhance your knowledge.
I hope this week’s blog has been a useful guide of where to start when making goals. Now it is over to you to set yourself something small and build on it.
But first things first: go grab yourself a drink, get some rest, and make sure the next thing on your to-do list is setting aside time in your diary for two or three weeks' time, for you to set yourself goals.