Athletes set goals to win competitions. Students set goals to graduate. Business owners set goals to increase revenue. I set goals to go on cool vacations and travel the world! That’s right, that’s what motivates me most of all! And of course, I want to lose weight and get in shape for some of those trips. And I want to pay cash for them (no debt collection here)! And I want to be able to enjoy the time off away from creating revenue. So my big goals often create many more smaller goals rather quickly! I end up setting financial goals, health and well-being goals and business goals to support it all!
From everyday “to-do” lists to New Year’s Resolutions, goal setting is part of the human experience. People have always needed something to strive for—something upon which to focus energy and effort.
So, if goal setting is so ingrained in our nature, why are most people so bad at it? Perhaps it’s the way we approach it. Try the following ideas to gain a fresh perspective on setting your goals.
How to Get Better at Setting (and Reaching) Goals
1. Size matters. Too many big goals can overwhelm. Incorporating the “half marathon approach” (starting small) helps “build the muscles” necessary for bigger challenges. Try limiting big-ticket goals to one or two. I tend to set a lot of BIG goals all at once! There is nothing that will shut down momentum quicker than focusing on too many big projects all at the same time! One, and no more than TWO big goals are all you need to focus on!
2. Make it personal. Asking yourself “Why do I want this?” “How will I feel?” “What will it mean to me?” personalizes goals, making them easier to achieve. If you are setting a goal for the sake of setting goals, you will lose interest before you reach it! Really stay connected to how it will feel to achieve this big goal! Otherwise, you’ll be bored very quickly and fail to ever reach your goal!
3. Sharpen your pencil. When written down, priorities get clear. If the goals aren’t worth the time or effort to record maybe they’re not worth the time and effort of achieving. Keep a journal with your goals written inside! I like to go back and see what my goals were for each year and check off the ones I reached! This is particularly fun when they are big goals. Be sure to date them too… and be patient. Some goals miss their deadline, but you can always adjust it and try again!
4. Create an environment. A physical environment can remind you how daily tasks add up to achieving longer-term goals. Use posters or a computer calendar to create visual reminders. I’m a BIG believer in staying inspired and keeping your vision in front of you. Words are powerful! Environments set the tone for success! Is your office space creating inspiration and focus for you and your goals?
5. Stay on course. Even Columbus referred to his maps more than once per journey. Periodic checking of progress allows for re-charting the course or timeline. Learning this one tip made all the difference in my life! Sometimes I had to change my approach to reaching the goal. (It rarely happens the way I think it will!) Be sure you are on track and make adjustments as needed!
6. Put it on the line. Sharing goals in public (family, friends, co-workers) means public accountability. Pride can be a great motivator. I think sharing my goals with others is the hardest part. It provides accountability, but more than that, it provides evidence of my possible failures! What if I don’t reach my goal? If no one else knows I even have a goal, the humiliation of not reaching it will be spared, right? But that’s how we play small in life. Go big or go home! Be willing to tell others what you want to achieve. And remember, share your goals with those who believe in you and will champion those goals as much as you do! Don’t share your goals with the dream-busters… you know, the ones who like to tell you you’ll never amount to much. We’ve all got a few of them! Just avoid them as much as you can! And celebrate with those who believe in you and the power of your dreams!
7. Get help. Success is always easier to find with support. Talking to people about business and personal goals gets them on board with morale and tangible support. And of course, having a life coach provides you with breakthroughs, keeps you from getting stuck or off-track, and encourages you to keep going is a great way to assure you reach your goals!
BETTER THAN GOAL SETTING: Try Intentions Instead
If you’re still having trouble setting goals, you might want to try a different approach. Recent brain research suggests that it’s not so much the goal itself, but the intention that gets us where we want to go. Some people feel goals push us (requiring unsustainable effort) while intentions pull us (they’re more efficient and effective).
Goals use “numbers” (pounds lost, sales made, products developed). Intentions bring to light what is personally fulfilling. Intention allows us to visualize ourselves (and how we’ll feel) when we’re successful. It eliminates the “failure” option often associated with the goal achievement process.
How to State an Intention
If the goal is “five new clients by next month” ask yourself, “What will my business be like with those new clients? How will I feel?”
Now, state your intention in the present tense. “My business will be prosperous,” becomes: “My business is prosperous.” And “I will feel successful” becomes “I feel successful.”
Attaining new clients means feeling empowered, confident, proud and successful. You focus on the feelings rather than the numbers to welcome and gauge your success.
Whether goal setting or intention setting one thing is clear—success isn’t achieved by accident. Planning ahead is what successful people have always done to get what they want out of life.
For me personally, I began the practice of setting intentions on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. Sometimes, I set my intention for the next hour – just to remain focused and clear so I can create the outcomes I want. Because I believe in the power they have, I’ve become masterful at setting intentions! It’s my way of beginning with the end in mind.
So right now, think about what you want to accomplish. What is something that you can say, “If I did that, it would feel amazing!” Make it your next goal or use that to set an intention! Whether its running in a 10K or reaching a level of income in your business, whatever would make you feel on top of the world, go do that! Remember the tips I shared, and I’ll see you at the finish line!