I like to set goals at the beginning of the year and even though I’m writing this with the New Year in mind, this is certainly not the only opportunity to set goals or resolutions. If there is something on your mind, why wait for a specific time to set goals and make changes to your life? Just do it now! And if you’re unsure of where to start, give this a read and JUST START!
Why I like setting annual goals / resolutions
I like to start off the new year with some specific direction and something to work towards. I find that it is so easy to let the hustle & bustle of life take over and when you next sit down and think about life you go “wow – where did it all disappear?”. I don’t want live aimlessly always wishing that I had done this or that. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in an office job. I don’t want to grow old and wonder where it all went. That’s my “why”.
Before starting, decide why you want to achieve certain things. Think about how it will make you feel, the way it could change your life and / or relationships and what positive feelings it will cultivate. Know your why!
(I find this quite inspiring)
How to go about setting goals
Setting goals needs to be a fun and inspiring exercise and if you’re new to it you should really start with something small, just to experience the feeling of achieving it! People say that goals should be big & scary and impossible, but I prefer small manageable and really achievable goals. My goals aren’t necessarily easy to achieve, but I know that I can achieve them (I don’t know exactly how always).
When setting a goal remember the well-known acronym SMART and thus set “smart goals”.
S – Specific
“Specific” and “Measurable” go hand-in-hand as you cannot measure something that isn’t specific. Clearly articulate what it is you would like to achieve. Avoid vague terms such as “I want more…”, “I want to be better at…” Be specific!
M – Measurable
Your goals need to be measurable and you need to know once you’ve achieved it.
To set a goal to “spend more time” with the family is neither specific nor measurable. More time compared to what? And would you be happy with 2 minutes a day more or 1 hour a day more?
Another example would be “I want to get better at playing piano”. How would you measure that exactly?
Better ways of starting to state these goals would be: “I want to spend at least 2 hours of quality family time per week” or “I want to practice piano for at least 30 minutes a day”. That way you know whether you’ve done it or not and you can track actual progress.
A – Attainable / Achievable
Attainable goals are also realistic. Don’t set yourself impossible goals and thereby literally set yourself up for failure.
One reason why many people don’t set goals is because they’ve never achieved any that they set. That doesn’t mean that goal-setting is a waste of time, it simply means that the way you’re setting goals is wrong.
R – Realistic
It’s easy to get carried away when setting goals and thinking of your dreams and ideal life. You unfortunately need to be realistic though and understand your current circumstances and push yourself whilst been realistic about how much time, energy, money, etc you really have.
The awesome thing about setting realistic goals is that you achieve them and get motivated for bigger and better.
T – Timeframe / Target Date
Your goals need to have a specific end date. Open-ended goals are never really achieved and one can easily lose motivation.
So set you goal to state that you’ll achieve it on or before a specific date.
Here’s an example of a SMART goal: “I want to pay R30,000 extra into my home loan between January 2018 and August 2018.”
This is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and has a timeframe.
How to keep track of them
Keeping track of your goals should be an easy and fun exercise. If you’re afraid to do it or are feeling depressed because you know you’re not on track then you should use this opportunity to find out exactly where you’re at and try to understand what is causing you to not be on track.
There are many different ways of tracking your goal progress. I prefer to update a document that is in the cloud so that I can look at it and update it at any time. I know though that some people prefer more creative ways such as posters or journaling. That’s great as there is no right or wrong!
The key aspects of your goal tracking are:
- Make it visible – you should see it or be reminded of it at least once a week
- Make it positive – write down why you want to achieve the goals
- Keep it up to date!
- Keep it exciting
- If possible allocate a percentage complete each time you update it
What happens if circumstances change?
Life happens and circumstances can change beyond our control. There is no use in forcing yourself to stick to something that is either now irrelevant or perhaps just impossible.
Your goals are meant to give you focus and direction in life and when things change then you should allow yourself to adapt your goals. Always think about why things are happening, how you are feeling and what your ultimate aim is.
Assess, adapt, move on…