Goal setting is a favorite topic when you’re on the path of building a better life. I’m learning about goal setting, and there are a few problems I find with the way it’s being taught right now. I don’t mean to say that most goal setting ‘advice’ isn’t effective (it can be), but there are deep issues that goal setting doesn’t address. I won’t talk about what they are in this article, because I’m still learning about it.
I do want to share the goal setting method that I find to be effective to some degree. However, I share this information with the disclaimer that it won’t work for every person. I will try to introduce some missing points I find with modern goal setting that may give you some extra light to better understand how to reach your goals. On top of that, this article can be an excellent introduction for you if you are starting to apply goal setting to achieve the dreams you desire.
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Why Goal-Setting is Important
Setting your goals is important because it means you are taking responsibility for your life. Some people don’t have specific goals in mind, and they follow the general flow of life. They are those who go to school, college, find a job, get married, find a house, have children, and so on. It’s not wrong to live a life like that (and I live that life too), but you should do it because you choose to, not because you follow other people without knowing what you want.
In other words, achieving your goals can give you satisfaction and a feeling of fulfillment. But setting your goals is sometimes a problem in itself. You may have tried achieving goals but failing to reach it, or you stopped pursuing them halfway.
Here is the first problem I see with goal-setting: sometimes we set goals that we don’t sincerely desire. We choose those goals because we think it’s a good idea or it will look good, but our deepest thoughts and feelings don’t agree with the decisions we make on the surface.
1. Do You Know Your True Goals?
Perhaps we also talk about finding our life purpose when we talk about how to set goals and achieve them. When you set a goal, is it your true goal, or is it something that you only want on the surface?
What I mean by that is your goal right now may not be in line with your true, inner desire. This point can work in both ways, meaning that your inner desire wants a better goal, or that it wants to be safe and stay within your comfort zone. You may say you want to get a promotion or apply for a new job position, but your fears say that you would rather stay where you are right now, safe and comfortable.
In my case: It’s been a long time since I set a goal of making a certain amount of money each month. Maybe you have the same goal too? I want to make $x,xxx per month in sustainable profit from my online business. I was able to reach that point, but I couldn’t sustain it. It made me think whether this goal is indeed a goal I desire, or if there was a deeper, hidden goal that was slowing me down.
I found out that I have a hidden goal: to stay as anonymous as possible. I have a ‘default’ goal where I want to avoid attention, and it makes it slow for me to reach my ‘artificial’ goal, which is to develop a big business. The ‘inertia’ from my default goal is enormous because it has been there for a long time. I have to make changes and show up to connect with more people to build a sustainable business.
Check if you have any default or hidden goals that may be getting in the way of your surface goals. I think many of us have these default goals, or else we would all be very successful in achieving our desires! You may need to work on resolving these goals first before you can see any progress with the surface goals. There is an exercise in The Amazing You program that guides you to know what you sincerely want in life.
2. Keep Your Goals in the Front of Your Mind
You may change your goals when you do the first step above. If you find you have a default or hidden goal, you can choose to work on that goal instead of your surface one. In my case, I change my goal from ‘making $x,xxx per month’ to ‘practicing meeting and talking to people.’ I believe this way is how you genuinely break down your goals into actionable chunks that you can do immediately.
Once you know your goals, keep them in mind. Some opinions say you should write down your goals. It can be useful, but I think that you don’t need to write down your goals. You would always be thinking about your goals and how to achieve them if the goals are truly important and genuinely a goal you desire, right?
The goal may not be relevant (or not your true desire) if you have to remind yourself about them. It may be a good idea to reconsider your goals if they aren’t at the front of your mind.
It’s easier for me to keep in mind to practice talking to new people than it is to think about making $x,xxx per month. I don’t have to write it down or post in on the wall since it’s a goal I always think about, and it’s something I can see myself do whenever the situation occurs.
I have written down some goals, and I have achieved some of them. Writing down your goals on a piece of paper and seeing them first thing in the morning does condition your mind to concentrate. Affirmations are also another way you can keep your goals in the front of your mind. You can either write down your goals, so you see them regularly, or make a habit of announcing in your mind the goals that are truly important to you.
3. Write Down Specific Goals that are Measurable
The problem is not only that your goals may not be your true goals, but they can also be ‘abstract’ goals. Abstract goals are goals that make your mind feel blurry or fuzzy when you think about how to reach it. It’ll be difficult to motivate yourself when you can’t see clearly where you want to go or how you are going to get there.
You can write down your goals in specific and measurable words. Being specific and measurable will give you a clearer picture of what you will achieve and how you think you can get there. However, I believe writing specific goals is useful in the short-term, but not that useful in the long-term. I find that my long-term goals are not specific and measurable, such as ‘help other people solve their problems.’
In my case, the short-term goal I have is ‘make $x,xxx per month.’ That is a specific and measurable goal, but then I find I have a hidden goal, so I change my goal to ‘practice speaking to people in new communities.’ That is specific and measurable, and it’s also an actual goal that can help me reach $x,xxx per month.
I’m not fond of writing down specific goals when you still have hidden intentions getting in your way. It becomes highly inefficient where you chase a goal but you never seem to reach it, and you become discouraged and quit along the way. There is currently much focus on writing down measurable goals, but not enough focus on figuring out if your goals are genuinely your desire or not. Once you figure out the hidden goals you have and resolve them, your specific goals will become more transparent and more accessible to reach.
4. Work Together With an Accountability Partner
You may be the type who can work on your own, or you may be the type that needs to work in a group. You may be able to reach your goals on your own without active help from other people, or you may need to work with an accountability partner. An accountability partner is someone who you report to and checks to see whether you are working towards your goal or not.
An accountability partner won’t guarantee that you’ll succeed. You may not even like having a partner if you’re the type of person who prefers to work alone. However, working with a partner or a group that shares the same or similar goals as you can give a boost of energy, fun, and motivation that you need to reach your goals.
I once had an accountability partner, but only for a short time. My problem then was that I had too many ‘artificial’ goals that weren’t my real goals. Now, I mostly work alone, but occasionally I join groups and meet people who share similar goals. It helps to renew my energy and see how to reach my goals using approaches I may not have thought before.
Your accountability partner can be a formal partner, like a coach, or an informal partner, like a friend. Having a coach or a mentor is great as they can nudge you in the right direction, but you have to pay them. Having a friend as an accountability partner is great if you’re not ready to invest in a coach yet, but they may not be as committed as a paid professional.
5. Celebrate the Success You Achieve!
It’s important to celebrate your success, no matter how small. You may want to celebrate only the big milestones, but the small ones are also important. When you celebrate your victory, you train your mind to know that you are capable of achieving goals. It takes almost the same mental energy to reach a small target and a big goal. When you know you can reach small goals, you become confident to reach big goals (confidence that comes from proof, not only feeling confident).
The way I celebrate is I adjust the celebration to the size of the success. For example, I first practiced celebrating success when I finished writing a short e-book. I celebrated by treating myself to ice cream. It’s a small, simple, and almost no special celebration, but it was enough to boost my energy, spirit, and confidence to keep working until I reach my big goal of making $x,xxx per month.
The primary distinction I learn about goal-setting is to focus on goals that you can do instead of what you want to own or have. Instead of focusing on making $x,xxx per month as a goal, I focus on practicing talking to people and making new connections, which I see as the foundation to building a successful and sustainable business.
It may be sexier to think about an amount of money, or a fit body, or some other goal you want to own, but it’s more useful to focus on what action you can take. When you focus on what you can do, you’ll find that nothing is stopping you and the possibilities are limitless.