Goal Setting 10 – Summary / Recap

We’re reaching the end of my series on goals. This post will summarise everything we’ve discussed so far in a nutshell, so that you have a single point of reference. Come here if you need to jog your memory without going through all the previous 9 articles.

If you haven’t read the series yet, start with the Introduction to Goals and work through it. You’ll miss a lot of important detail if you only read this page, although it might be enough to get you started.


What are Goals?

We defined a goal as a big aim, ambition or desire you have that’s going to take quite a bit of time and effort to achieve. Something like ‘Own a House’, ‘Find Love’, ‘Earn more than £100k’, ‘Become a Published Author’, ‘Write a Top 10 Record’, ‘Get a Degree’.

It’s true that there can be smaller goals like ‘lose 10lb’, ‘Go to the gym 3 times this week’, ‘be nicer to mum’, or suchlike, but I’m really talking about things that take months or years to achieve here. I guess the methods would work for the smaller things too though.

Goals are important if you have one or more big ambitions you want to achieve and if you want to have some sense of control over your life and your destiny.

Goals should be specific. There should be a definitive, measurable moment where you can say you’ve achieved your goal. When you collect the keys to your new house for example. Or when you get the sales data saying your record has gone platinum. If your definition is too vague it’s impossible ever say you’ve truly accomplished what you set out to do.

We also said goals should have a timescale. Without this they tend to drift and become just dreams or wishes. If you commit to doing something by a certain time then it becomes a plan!


What Goals aren’t

Goals aren’t suitable for everyone. Some people won’t like micro-managing their life in this way. That is totally cool. The world would be a boring place everyone worked the same way. And it’s still totally possible to achieve great things without using goals. They’ll just happen in a more organic, less structured way. I’m not comfortable leaving things to chance like that, but for some people that’s the only way to be and that’s right for them.

So even if you love goals and they work for you, be careful about evangelising them too much and trying to force them on everyone.

Also, goals aren’t forever. They can change. They are not a lifelong commitment. They might be, but if you realise you don’t want your goal anymore, or you’re not prepared to make the sacrifices it requires, then change it. That’s OK. Goals are tools to help your get what you want out of life, not to force you to follow a miserable road just because you thought it would be a good idea once but your priorities have changed since. Here’s a great article of one person explaining exactly why she gave up her goal and it was totally the right choice for her.


Why Goals work

Goals work because they help you make decisions. There are other reasons, but this is by far the most important one. A well defined goal means that when you have choices to make you can assess the options against your goal and chose the path that is most likely to get you there.


You can only have one Goal

Because we’re talking about big, life changing goals, it’s very difficulty to juggle the demands of more than one. When making a decision, if you have more than one goal competing for your time and energy then it becomes hard to make the right decision. You may have conflicting priorities. So it’s much more effective to keep it to one goal.

The right goal for you is something you want more than (almost) anything else, is consistent with your personal values and you will enjoy the process of working towards, not just the result of achieving it


How to work towards your Goal

Write down your goal and break it down into smaller steps. Break these down further if necessary. These should all still be specific and have a timescale. Then start doing the first of these steps.

Every week, review your written down goal and the steps you’ve identified. Tick of any you’ve done. Add any new ones you’ve thought of. Change any that might need changing. This is just a 5 minute review to think over your goal and keep it in the forefront of your mind.

Once a month, update your goals. Have a more detailed look through to see if there are any aspects you want to change, add, alter or remove. Are there steps you should add? Have some steps become more urgent or less urgent, more of a priority or less than you had previously thought. Are you on track or do you need to do anything differently.

The monthly update means you don’t have to agonise about the ‘big picture’ too much day by day, because you know that you’ll be doing an update within a few weeks. During the day to day activity just keep working towards the short term things you identified at the latest review. Take stock at the next review or monthly updated.

Tell people about your goals. You’ll find support from the most unexpected places, but people can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re working towards.


Weigh every decision against your Goal

Most importantly, weigh every decision against your goals and take the choice that moves your towards your goal most effectively. As we’ve said, this is why goals work, so this is the habit you need to get in to to make them as effective as possible. All the previous advice is just designed to make this aspect of the process as easy as possible.


Over to you

There you have it. That’s how goals work for me. I hope there will be advice in there that helps you work towards your dreams and desires too. I’d love to hear about your goals and how you’ve gone about this kind of thing, if you want to share it.
Next time, the final post in the series, the sting in the tail, the painful truth about goals that a lot of the advice out there doesn’t tell you.

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