Personal Goal Setting: Why and How

Written by Do I Editorial

“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.” Steve Jobs.

“Your time is limited; don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs.

“Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.” Brian Tracy.

Most of us just don’t get it – personal goal setting is extremely important for all of us.  We have just one life and it is our duty (and I mean this) to make the most of it. Till we have a goal in life, we will forever be flitting from one thing to another without any clear plan or with any degree of discipline. We need to decide, very clearly and very early, what we want to achieve in life. One just cannot ‘go with the flow’ every day.  Drifting from one phase of our lives to another, from office to home and home to office is no way to live. We need to take stock of what is happening within and around us and to get a clear idea of the direction we want to go in. To reiterate, we have just one life – making it meaningless without any aim or goal to keep us motivated to live each day with renewed interest makes just no sense at all.

It will take time to think and set your life goals but once you do that, life will become all the more exciting. You will have something to look forward to.  Meet successful people and they will tell you that they have reached their current position because that had a set goals and they worked hard and with dedication to achieve them.

So to make your life a success, here’s a guide that will assist you in setting your personal goals:

It all starts with the question why and what?
So why do you want to set goals for yourself?  Is it because I told you to or because everybody else is doing it? You need to ask yourself why it is so important for you to have a target (or a set of targets) in life. Once that’s answered, think about what you want to do or what those goal or goals should be. You need to know what you want to get some clarity in life and only then will you be able to work on it. Your personal goals can relate to anything ranging from a career to any desire that you may have, no matter how small it is. So decide what you want to do – from sleeping early every night to quitting that smoking habit or buying a car before a certain age – your goals are your decision to achieve something you desire within a certain time frame, hopefully to improve your life.

Why don’t you write it?
There are a hundred and one things that we say during the day about what we want to achieve in life. More than half of them are not worth pursuing and are said at the spur of the moment. But there are those that can make a difference to our lives. Write them down. What you want to do, when you want to start, when you want to achieve the goals by.  Once you write your goals on paper, they become all the more real and can be achieved through proper planning.  Once you pick up a start date, stick to it. Make all the preparations so that when the time comes you are ready to work on your goal. If you don’t do that, you will end up procrastinating. Writing your goals down helps you focus better.

Here’s a way to go about it: Write down 6-10 long term goals with the start and end dates. Then, make a set of annual sub-goals that will help you achieve your long term goals. Make monthly action plans that will help you meet your annual goals.  Finally, make a daily job list that will help you, step by step, to achieve your annual goals.  Review your progress every month and make the necessary modifications (which, hopefully, you won’t have to).

Working in this way to achieve your goals may seem difficult in the beginning.  But be at it for a longish period of time and you will find that this becomes a habit, a good habit.  Do note that every successful company (and every successful individual) follows this method.

Categories your goals
There are some goals for life and involve long term planning and there are some goals which can be achieved in a matter of days, weeks or months.  Setting a goal to achieve a reduction in your weight will not take much time; buying a house will. So you need to categorise your goals and work on them accordingly. While listing the goals down, you should also mention the time period in which they need to be achieved. This will make you work on them in a disciplined manner and will not bog you down with too many things to be done at the same time. Sometimes your bigger goals can be broken up into smaller ones. For example, if your big goal is to buy a house by the age of 35, that can be broken down into, say, completing your masters by the age of 25, getting a six digit salary by the age of 28, paying off all your debts by the age of 30, saving monies for a down payment and, finally, buying that dream house before the age of 35. This makes all the goals you have set achievable.

Goals to be realistic and plan to achieve them
Set goals which are achievable, not something absurd like buying a house on Mars – that may be possible one day but not in the foreseeable future. If you set impossible goals, you will lose interest pretty fast. Goals should always be made keeping the SMART principle in mind; that is, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-related. Only when your goals are made keeping these points in mind that you will not procrastinate. You also need to figure out a process to achieve these goals. Chalk out an action path for yourself and work on them steadily. The process is as important as deciding the goal. Without a proper process, the goal will just not be achievable.

Motivate yourself
Once your goals are set and so are your plans of action, you need to work on motivating yourself every day. You cannot give up at any stage in the fear that things may not work out. They may or they may not, but how will you know that if you don’t even give it a try. With focus, discipline and motivation, you will be able to achieve your goals within the time frame that you have set for yourself. Figure out what motivates you the most and do that. Give yourself breaks so as to not burn out. Take breaks to rejuvenate yourself and your ideas. Things always look better the next day, so sleep if you can and re-start the process next day! Talk to friends and family about your goals. The encouragement you receive from them will also serve in motivating you.

Do remember that you may, at times, fail to meet your milestones but what will make it worth your time is the experience you would have gained out of the whole exercise. Use them as pointers to achieve your next goal or to re-work on your current goals. You are sure to achieve success in life by working on your goals with passion, sincerity and dedication.

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