Personal targets: 12 ways to set achievable goals
Why should we set goals, and what do we actually achieve when we meet them? Ewa Pietrzak offers advice on how to meet professional or personal targets and how they can energise us
When Thomas Edison set out to invent the light bulb, it certainly wasn't a realistic goal. No one had ever done it before and many thought he was daft, but he tried and failed until he eventually launched the incandescent bulb in 1879.
Listening to his inner voice for guidance and retaining a burning desire to create electric light, Edison reached his goal against a lot of odds.
So how do we, like Edison, set ourselves goals, and what do we achieve when we meet our goals?
The true purpose of setting goals is to experience personal growth and discover what we are capable of achieving.
There is a technique used in business for setting goals that is called SMART: strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed.
However, meaningful goals energise us to take action beyond what we feel we might ordinarily achieve.
I divide goals into three types: goal A is one you already know how to do. For example, you have already finished a marathon and want to run another.
Goal B is something you think you can do and probably can, like saving to buy an apartment in two years' time.
Both A and B are 'rational' goals but not ones that are going to energise you every morning. Goal C is an exciting, worthwhile, personal or professional goal that you haven't achieved yet, like attracting a life partner or starting your own business.
Goals can be scary and our fear of failure will try to talk us out of it, but an exciting dream goal is a great motivator, giving purpose, excitement and meaning to life.
1. Set an inspiring goal
If you haven't already got a burning desire or goal in mind, relax and allow your imagination to wander into the fantasy world you frequented as a child.
Imagine you have all the resources you could ever need and that you can have absolutely anything you want, no matter how far-fetched it is.
Choose a goal that really inspires you and makes you smile from the inside out.
When Edmund Hillary decided he wanted to climb Mount Everest, no one had ever reached the summit before and anyone who tried had died.
He travelled from New Zealand to Nepal and attempted the ascent three years in a row before reaching his goal in 1953 with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.
2. Big worthwhile goal
Many of us have difficulty going for big goals because our confidence may have been knocked along the way due to failures and criticism.
After setting and achieving childhood goals to walk, talk and climb etc, pressures to perform well in school can leave us distrusting our own ability.
Depending on the degree of damage to our self-confidence, we may need to seek the support of a coach or mentor to boost self-esteem.
This way we can go back to dreaming like a child and set big worthwhile goals.
Sit down and make a list of all the goals that spring to mind. Professional goals can be income and career-related, and personal goals could be a new home, a partner or getting your body into shape. When writing your goals, don't worry how you're going to get them, just write out the desires that are you already have.
Don't be judgemental or compare your goals with friends or colleagues. Setting and reaching a goal is a personal journey and only you can ask and answer the key questions: what do I really want? What puts a smile on my face and makes me excited? What is worth my effort?
4. Make a decision
This is the hardest part. Once you've brainstormed your possible goals, pick the one that speaks to you the most. Trust your gut feeling and don't ask anyone for advice. Intuition is the best compass we have, so it's important not to over-analyse or start asking the wrong people for advice.
If you aim for something bigger and more beautiful than anything you have achieved before, be ready to control your inner voices that question your new activity and cast doubt on your plans. You don't need to know how you are going to reach the goal at the start, just make a decision and figure it out along the way. The airplane was invented by two bicycle mechanics that didn't know how to get a vehicle airborne as no one had ever done it before.
The Wright brothers kept trying and inventing the mechanical parts they needed until they succeeded.
You will succeed too.
5. Seek professional support
If you're serious about achieving your big goal and it's beyond what you've achieved so far, the quickest way to make it happen is to engage the services of a coach or mentor who knows how to get you there. Make sure to check the person's results before you hire them.
A good coach will have successfully achieved their own goals to create a better life for themselves, so they know in practical terms how to guide you on the path to achieving your worthwhile goal.
6. Goal card
Get a piece of paper or blank business card and write a brief description of your goal and carry it with you at all times. Always write in the present tense as if you are already in possession of your goal. "It is December 31, 2017, and I am so happy and grateful now that my book is published." Set a date to reach your goal, as this fixes the image of you already having achieved your goal firmly in your mind.
Keep the card in your wallet or somewhere you will see it and read it twice a day to keep fresh in your mind.
7. Goal statement
Write your goal out in detail, as if explaining it clearly to a complete stranger. This will take you further into the process and help you develop a plan. If it is a personal goal like attracting a partner, be specific and create an image of the person you want to meet and the relationship in as much detail as possible.
This can include physical traits, personality, hobbies, how you spend time together and how you feel when you're with your partner.
Write in the present tense as if you have already met your partner, and condense into a one-page statement.
8. Focus and repetition
Once you have formulated your goal statement, read it out loud twice daily, in the morning and evening. This will keep your goal alive and ensure you are focused on a daily basis, believing you will achieve it.
You can also record this onto your phone or audio device and listen to it twice daily, if that works better for you.
Constant repetition is an effective tool and a well-known principle in the psychology of success, which will keep you focused on reaching the goals you set for yourself.
9. Vision board
Our mind thinks in pictures and when you have a clear visual image of your goal, you remain focused and inspired.
For example, if you want to move home and live by the sea, make a collage of a home similar to the one you want, with the view you have in mind, and the location.
You can do this on a computer and have it as your screen saver or cut out with scissors from magazines and paste onto a board, like a mood board, which you put in a place that you see every day.
10. Manageable steps
If you create a goal that truly excites and inspires you, it's likely you won't know how to reach it because you have never done it before, so break it down into manageable steps.
Write out a list of SMART actions that you will take, to move you closer to your goal every day. Work through your list and be prepared to review and revise as you go along.
11. Manageable steps
We often let ourselves off the hook when it comes to taking actions towards our goals. When we get uncomfortable, we pull back, but discomfort is part of the process.
Old habits die hard and that's why we need someone else to hold us to account.
Nominate a friend or mentor, and check in with them weekly to report on your progress.
Goals can be overwhelming, so this will keep you on track to ensure you reach your worthwhile objectives.
12. Surround yourself with supportive people
Often we get discouraged about our goals when we don't feel the support of close friends and family.
This is you breaking new ground, and not everyone will think it's a good idea. Discuss your goal with those that share your excitement and offer encouragement.
For example, if your goal is to start a business and increase your income, it's unwise to consult friends who are struggling to make ends meet.
Heading along a new path may cause a temporary parting of company from those who don't support you, but to reach your worthwhile goal, this is essential. Dream big and enjoy the personal growth of reaching your beautiful, worthwhile goal.
- Internationally accredited success coach and motivational speaker, Ewa Pietrzak offers one-to-one coaching sessions, webinars and a powerful 24-week training process, Thinking into Results.
- Certified by Bob Proctor (The Secret), Ewa lives in Dublin and works with clients all over the world to help them get what they want in life. For further information log on to abundantresults.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org 085 744 9847