Do the words goal setting make you feel overwhelmed? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The thing is that most of us have to learn about it through first-hand experience, instead of properly being taught how to do it from when we’re in school.
My goal with this post is to help you feel less overwhelmed about it and give you some practical goal setting tips. Whether we like it or not, the only way to make progress in life and accomplish our dreams is to set good goals. That will become your roadmap that you’ll be able to refer to whenever you’ll need it.
So let’s see why setting goals is important and how you can start setting your own SMART goals.
What are goals?
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According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, a goal is something that you’re trying to do or achieve.
I’m not a fan of football, but I like to think about a goal visually, and seeing how hard the players work to put the ball in the goal, is a good analogy that I use to refer to my own goals.
Football players will literally train day and night and have a very disciplined lifestyle, so that they can go and play a match against another team, with the ultimate mission of scoring as many goals as they can.
The reason setting goals is important is so that we can create the life of our dreams, grow, challenge ourselves, and live a fulfilled life. Everyone can dream, but not everyone can achieve, and what will make the difference between these two is setting goals effectively.
In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
Benefits of goal setting
You may be wondering what the actual benefits of goal setting are, so let me share a few with you below.
- More motivation
Although writing a vision and dreaming big is very exciting at first, when time goes by, it’s easy to lose motivation and the determination to accomplish those things. However, when you set practical goals and you do it in a way that works for you, it’s easier to keep going even though it takes time to see the vision fulfilled.
- Clear direction
Another key benefit of setting goals is the fact that you have a clear direction. Many people feel overwhelmed because they have these huge dreams but no idea how to get there, and they think that they need to go from 0 to 100.
But when you set goals and they are structured effectively, it will be easier for you to understand where you’re headed to and take it one step at a time. You’ll break down your goals into practical and manageable steps that will take the overwhelm away from the equation.
- Better tracking of your progress
No dreams come to life if you don’t keep track of where you are going. By setting effective goals, you will be able to track your progress, readjust your actions and direction if you need to, so that you can still make it to the end goal.
Ticking things off is one of the most exciting feelings for me, so setting goals will allow you not only to track your progress better but also to feel rewarded every time you tick off an item from your list.
- Allows you to bring your vision to life
Like I said at the beginning of the post, if you don’t set goals for your dreams, they will only remain dreams. But when you are intentional about breaking down that vision so that you can set achievable goals, it’s much easier to see your vision come to life in a much smaller time frame and probably with less stress too.
Now the question is: should you be setting big goals? Or small goals? My personal answer is both, let’s have a look at why you should do that.
Setting big goals
Setting big goals means that you want to achieve something that’s definitely out of your comfort zone, probably feels a bit scary too, and stretches your thinking.
Big goals can be something like buying a house, starting a new business, saving a huge amount of money, etc. These are good goals to have and I do believe that everyone should be setting some of these goals every year or so.
However, when in the middle of your goal-setting process, don’t just get stuck into this type of goal, because you’ll need a balance with smaller ones to make sure that you can actually achieve everything you set yourself to do, and that you also remember to find accomplishment and reward in the small things, and not just the big goals.
Setting small goals
Setting small goals will also be an essential part of your growth and achieving your dream life.
Small goals are those that perhaps we don’t consider as important or hard to achieve but they do actually play a role into the bigger vision.
Small goals are usually more easily achievable in a shorter time frame, which helps to give you a boost of motivation and feel rewarded, even when the journey ahead is still long.
Plus, in many cases, I believe that small goals complement big goals, as they contribute to the achievement of the big goals.
For example, if I set the big goal of buying a house, it might take me 5 years of saving to get to the amount I need for the deposit.
Many people might feel overwhelmed and not know exactly how to act to get that money together to buy the house. But by setting the small goal of consistently saving X amount of money each month and ticking it off the list, you’ll get to the end of the 5 years will less stress, good direction, and your big goal accomplished.
The same goes for leading a healthy lifestyle; that is a great goal to have but there’s so much that will influence the accomplishment of that goal.
For example, drinking water when you first wake up is a small goal towards achieving your bigger one. It might even seem insignificant, yet for many, it’s a real challenge, and that little commitment that you are disciplined on every day, will contribute to the accomplishment of your overall big goal.
Let’s take a look now as to how you can start setting goals and set yourself up for success.
How to set SMART goals
The acronym SMART goals stands for: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound. Let’s see in a bit more detail what each of these means.
The first step in the goal-setting process is to set a goal that is specific. That means that you describe exactly what you want to achieve, giving as much detail as possible.
A good example is usually the health goal. Someone might say that their goal is to be healthy, but that doesn’t really give a lot of information on it, meaning it will be harder to achieve because there is no clarity on what it is that needs to be achieved.
Now, that’s a lot more detail and it definitely gives more room for clarity and being strategic with the approach to achieving this goal.
A measurable goal is something which, like the word says, you can measure. That means writing down a specific number or some other information that will help you to track your progress.
For example, if you want to save £5k in a year, it means that you’ll roughly have to save £400ish per month. That’s a measurable goal because you know that by putting aside those £400 each month, you’ll have achieved your monthly goal and are one step closer to achieving your yearly goal.
Goals that are achievable are those that are realistic. As much as I’ll always encourage everyone to dream big, I’d also recommend being realistic with what it is you want to do.
If you want to save £5k per year but you don’t even have a job right now and you’re not doing anything to get one, it might not be very realistic and achievable for you to set this goal.
Instead, what would make more sense is that you set yourself the goal of finding a job, and then you’ll think about saving. Or if you do have a job, make sure that the amount you want to save each month is correlated to the amount of money you make.
If you want to save double the amount of what you currently earn, that might not be very achievable either.
A relevant goal is something that will be relevant to your main vision, otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.
For example, if your goal is to buy a house and you need to put all your savings towards that for the next few years, setting the goal of doing a road trip in the US might not be very relevant.
You’d end up having to split your savings between the two goals, delaying the accomplishment of buying a house, and then get frustrated when things don’t happen the way you’d like them to.
So make sure that the goals that you set for yourself are always linked to your main vision.
The final (and likewise important) aspect of setting smart goals, is that your goals should be time-bound, meaning they should have a deadline.
When you set yourself a deadline, it will be easier to write down each step you need to take, and then work towards achieving your goal. You’ll also feel some kind of positive pressure that will push you to work because you know the finish line is getting near.
The truth is, goals without a timeframe aren’t very likely to be achieved, they’ll stay as something that you’re talking about, but you’re not actually doing anything to make them happen.
The importance of goal setting and setting SMART goals for success – Final thoughts
Alright, friend, this was another detailed post that I wanted to share with you to show you that goal setting doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as many people make it seem.
However, you will need a good strategy in place and it’s important that you really understand why setting goals is so important if you want to see your dreams come to life.