Goal Setting: Tips & Tricks

Here are some principles and broad guidelines that will help you to set effective goals:

• State each goal as a positive statement: 'Execute this technique well' is a much better goal than 'Don't make this stupid mistake.'
• Be precise: Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
• Set priorities: When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
• Keep operational goals small: Keep the low-level goals you are working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward. Derive today's goals from larger ones.
• Set performance goals, not outcome goals: You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. There is nothing more dispiriting than failing to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control. In business, these could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, for example, these reasons could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck. If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals and draw satisfaction from them.
• Set realistic goals: It is important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (employers, parents, media, society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions. Alternatively you may set goals that are too high, because you may not appreciate either the obstacles in the way or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.

And perhaps the single most important piece of advice in making sure you achieve your goals:

• Write goals down: This crystallizes them and gives them more force. Research shows that when people write their goals down they are up to ten times more likely to achieve them.

Making your goals ‘SMART’ is an easy way to remember these ideas, and to check that your goals are hitting all these points.

SMART Goals:

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants, SMART usually stands for:
• S Specific
• M Measurable
• A Attainable
• R Relevant
• T Time-bound
For example, instead of having “to sail around the world” as a goal, it is more powerful to say “To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015.” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!

Achieving Goals

When you have achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress you have made towards other goals. If the goal was a significant one, and make sure you reward yourself appropriately. All of this makes the achievement of your goals more enjoyable and helps you build the self-confidence you deserve.

With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:

• If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goals harder.
• If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goals a little easier.
• If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.
• If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.

Remember too that your goals will change as time goes on. Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience, and if goals do not hold any attraction any longer, then let them go. Also don’t get discouraged if you fail to achieve one of your goals, failure to meet goals does not matter much, as long as you learn from it and feed lessons learned back into your new goals.


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