Goal setting has become a cliché in the motivation industry, The reason the gurus are so aligned is because it’s true: goal setting is probably the single biggest differentiator between the achievers and the perennially frustrated.
Without goals it’s impossible to score, so goals are vital. But how do we set them, and what should they include?
10 ten tips
1) Set long-term goals. One year, or six-month goals are fine as milestones (see below), but they’ll not give you the stamina or good-judgement offered by a 10 year goal. You need a timespan that can turn your life around: so don’t undermine yourself from the outset by setting your horizons too short.
2) Include some milestones. In fact, any short-term goals should be dictated purely by the long term goals. View them as milestones, telling you – periodically – you’re on the right track. That said, it’s the 10 year goal that matters – so your five-year milestone should focus on what must be in place to make the 10-year goal a reality, as should your two-year for your five-year, and so on.
3) Be realistic with timescales. Setting goals with too great a leap in too short a timeframe can deflate strong progress for no other reason than an arbitrary deadline was missed. 10-year goals help you to work backwards while remaining flexible on milestone achievement. And it also helps you spot that progress is progress: so don’t surrender just because a milestone has been missed: adjust.
4) Be detailed. Vague goals will fail to motivate because they feel out of reach. Detailed goals, meanwhile, will excite because you’ll feel something of the experience of achieving them simply by crystallising the details. Goals are there to unravel your thinking and nail the next steps, which – in itself – is a well-achieved milestone.
5) Visualise. A strong technique for goal-setting is visualisation because it forces you to think about the future. Sit in a darkened room, close your eyes, and mentally project yourself forward 10 years. What does your life look like: in the minutest detail? Yet, be careful to focus on goal achievement, not simply the material benefits of achievements. Goals are about how you acquire the means for buying the Ferrari, not simply enjoying the car itself.
6) Avoid materialism. In fact, forget the Ferrari. Material goal-setting is simply day-dreaming. These are negative goals – in fact extensions of our insecurities because we’re really wishing to avoid being poor, or disliked or unattractive to others. So set positive goals about the person you want to be – and about how you spend your time and make your living. And if that’s on the golf course – fine – but, again, calculate how such a goal is possible.
7) Write them down…Written goals make all the difference, so why is this a step so few people take? Many fear that the writing process commits them to a goal – and worry more that missing a milestone will confirm them as a loser. But goals-setting without commitment is simply dreaming, so commit: and write down those goals (and the milestones) – preferably somewhere you can see them every day (such as the back of a diary).
8) ….or be visual. Hotelier Conrad Hilton didn’t need written goals because he kept a photo of New York’s Waldorf Hotel under the glass of his desk. It remained there for 18 years until he bought that hotel: his daily reminder of the only thing that mattered – achieving his goal.
9) Understand the costs. The quickest route to failing your goals is to under-estimate the costs involved and then baulk at paying them. So, within your goal-setting, calculate the cost – in money, time, effort, sacrifices – and be prepared to pay them.
10) And act. Remember, goals without action, are simply dreams, so goal-setting is only the first part of the process for goal achievement. Taking action is all-important – as is periodically assessing the results, adjusting your tactics and keeping going.