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Do you ever feel like you are just floating through life without any direction? Or perhaps you know what you want but no idea on how to get there? If so, have you considered setting goals?
If you want to become successful, setting goals are vital! They give us direction, motivation and a focus, by setting goals we are creating a target to aim for! Without goals, it becomes harder to reach our full potential and success more often than not boils down to luck!
However, it’s not as simple as just writing down our goals. Understanding the importance of goals and the techniques involved in creating achievable goals is essential for success! The following article outlines 7 essential steps on how to set goals that will help you reach your full potential!
Why should we set goals
Setting goals is essential for our development and success. Goals help us create a road map for success, they give us a target to aim for and help us see where we are going and what we need to do to get there!
Many people go through life aimlessly. They have no idea of what they want or how to get there. Without goals we float through life, before we know it we reach a certain age with no idea on how we got there. However, it’s never too late to change our life and achieve our dreams, we just need to make a plan!
For years I wanted to become a nurse, however, I continued working as a health care assistant for 12 years before I done anything about it! Now, I did enjoy being a HCA but it just wasn’t fulfilling me mentally. I was always saying I would go and start my nurse training but I was filled with self doubt and never put a plan in place to actually do so.
It was only after I got divorced that I had to take a good hard look at my life and decided to plan out my future. It was then that I created my 5 year plan to become a qualified nurse. 4 years later I graduated from university with a 1st class honours degree and started working as a scrub nurse at my local hospital. Previously I had never thought that that was even possible. However, by making clear actionable goals and an action plan I was able to eventually reach my dream of becoming a nurse, qualifying 2 days before my 40th birthday!
Without sitting down and looking at what I wanted to achieve and making a clear action plan of how I was going to achieve it I would probably still be working as a HCA.
How to set goals
A goal can be a lot of different things, but one thing its not is a dream! A dream is something that we desire, whereby a goal is something that is specific, it’s measurable. For example, if your dream is to own your own home, your goal could be to save £20,000 in 3 years for a deposit.
Although your main goal may be big, the best way to get there is to set smaller goals. As you achieve the smaller goals you can set others that will eventually lead you to that bigger goal.
So how to we set goals? Here’s 7 essential steps to help you create achievable goals that will set you on the path to success whatever that may be!
Evaluate your situation
One of the first things you need to do before you set goals is to reflect and evaluate your current situation. It’s important that you understand what it is you want to want to achieve and what has previously been holding you back from achieving it.
Take a moment to evaluate all your strengths and weaknesses, past mistakes, any limiting beliefs and possible roadblocks. By doing so you will have a better understanding of where your mindset is and what you may need to change in order to move forward and work towards your dreams.
Once you have decided on what you want to achieve ask yourself the following questions:
Is this goal something you actually want?
Are you willing to pour all your efforts into achieving this goal?
If the answer is no to any of these questions, then these probably aren’t the right goals for you and not worth pursuing. Sometimes we think we want to achieve something but in fact when we really think about it we don’t. Sometimes are dreams and ambitions are influenced by someone else. It’s really important that you take a really good look inside and think about what you really want to achieve! If you don’t, you aren’t likely to stay motivated enough to get to the finish line!
Make SMART goals
Once you know what you want to achieve write down a list of all your goals. This list may be overwhelming but remember you don’t have to reach them all at once.
Put these goals in order of importance and then pick out one that you want to focus on first. Once you have your first goal you need to make sure it’s a SMART goal!
A SMART goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.
Specific – Goals should be specific, well defined, clear, and unambiguous
Measurable – Goals should be measurable againt a given set of criteria.
Achievable – Goals should be attainable and not impossible to achieve.
Realistic – Goals should be realistic and within your reach.
Timely – Goals should have a clearly defined timeline with a start and end date.
For example, if your goal is to save money for a house deposit:
Goal is to save £30,000 over 3 years – This goal is clearly defined and has a clear timeline with end date. However this means saving on average £833 a month. Is this actually realistic and attainable, do you have enough income to cover this? If not, it is highly unlikely that you will succeed, so you may need to adjust the timeline or amount you wish to save.
Write it down
Once you have decided on your goals and happy that they are attainable then you need to write them down and keep them somewhere visible.
By writing down our goals it helps us clarify and strengthen our intentions. A constant reminder also helps us stay motivated, stay focused and avoids distraction. It affirms purpose and keeps us on track.
Break it down
By breaking down our goals into smaller manageable chunks it helps us focus on smaller manageable more achievable pieces. It makes the end goal seem less daunting and easier to achieve.
There are various ways to break down big goals such as adjusting the time frame or making a 10 step plan focusing on reaching one step at a time.
As you reach each goal you will have small achievements that you can celebrate, reinforcing your belief that you are on the right track and on target to reach the end goal.
Hold yourself accountable
These are your goals and nobody else can help you achieve them. It’s up to you to make sure that you stick to the plan and stay motivated to keep going. Only you have the power to change your life, people may give you a helping hand throughout the process but ultimately it’s up to you to get it done!
While there are some instances where things happen out of your control, how you respond to those circumstances and how you decide to approach these situations is entirely up to you. If you do come across challenges that jeopardise your goals, keep the focus, remember why your doing it in the first place and embrace it, work with it, and allow yourself to succeed.
One way you can make your self become more accountable is to share your goals with others. You could also assign consequences for when you fail to reach your goals or loose motivation.
As and when you reach your smaller goals, allow yourself to celebrate. This helps you recognise that what you are doing is good and beneficial in reaching your end goal. This also gives you an incentive, something to look forward too, providing you more motivation to keep going!
Develop healthy habits
When you have a number of goals that you are trying to achieve, it’s important to have healthy habits which can help you remain positive and stay on track.
Many of us struggle with progress due to self doubt and limiting beliefs. If this is the case, it’s important to look at your everyday habits and ask yourself if they are helping or discouraging you from reaching your full potential?
Healthy habits and behaviours are what drive us forward, that encourage you to stay on track, maintain a positive mindset and nudge you towards your desired outcome. Therefore to reach our full potential it’s essential we get rid of those negative habits and beliefs and replace with positive ones.
Setting goals gives us a long term vision and short term focus. These goals help us clarify what we want to achieve in life and give us a roadmap to creating that success.
Thanks for reading,
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