Goal Setting: How to Set Objective Goals for a New Year
I want to emphasize the importance of goals because goal-setting is one of those ethereal concepts that everyone talks about and seems to agree is important. Yet, when you actually get down to it, most people don’t. Most people have dreams they want to achieve, but don’t see how goals can be used as a ladder to those dreams. By setting objective, concrete goals and striving to reach them we do our best to ensure that by the end of the year -or month, or week- we are factually closer to our dreams, rather than just feeling like we are -or worse- regretting the fact that we aren’t. I’ll be honest, this used to be a huge weakness of mine. Instead of setting goals, I did the most ineffective thing people do: I made resolutions (yes, I am ranting about resolutions again). A resolution is something you “resolve” to do, but it differs from a goal in that there is no definition of a desired outcome. It is saying things like “I am going to start a blog” without strategizing how you are going to do it or exactly what your blog or project will look like. Everyone does this at one point or another, but this isn’t goal setting. Unfortunately, it’s more like wishful thinking and most of the time, it stays a simple wish and never gets done. A resolution becomes a goal once you define your desired outcome. It is saying something like, “By the month of ________ I want to have a fully functioning site, with at least one blog post”. Now, you have something to work towards. In the months leading up to your goal’s deadline you know you need to write at least one post, begin taking pictures, making plans, and whatever else you need to do. This is the beauty of goal setting. Not only will it help you get more done, but if done correctly, setting goals can also help you create a road map of your year so that you make the most out of it rather than wasting time. The goals that you set for your life help you determine the goals for your year, months, and days. In essence, it is like an inverted pyramid:
See how that works? Your goals, like I said before, should work like a ladder towards your dreams. When we learn how to use our goals, we are able to ensure that we are heading in the direction we want. To do this, first we have to take some time to think about who we want to be, and what we want our life to look like in the future. As you begin your goal-digging process, ask yourself questions like:
Who do I want to be in 5-10 years?
What is my ultimate career goal?
What do I need to do before my life ends?
What is the next step in my personal development (becoming a better person, overall)?
You don’t need to have it all figured out. Once you have an idea of some of these things you want, use them to plan how you will use this year to make them happen. What is the first step to making those things a reality? If you wanted to be a doctor for example, perhaps your next step is completing the first credits of your associate’s degree. If your next step in your personal development is spending more time with your family, make that a goal- “I am going to spend one night a week with my family for the entire year” - that is an objective goal. You can then use that goal to set your monthly and weekly goals. Each month, for example, you will break out your calendar and set four dates you will dedicate to that family time. Each week, you will confirm that date and on that day it will be one of your goals for the day. As I continue this series, I’ll go into some more detail about exactly how I do this, but the overall idea is this: goal setting should be an ongoing process, something you do every single day. This is how you ensure that you are actually accomplishing the goals you set. At the end of the year, you may find that you have missed one or two of those family days, but I guarantee you will have a lot more of them than you did last year- and that’s what we’re striving for!