Goal Setting is as much of an art as it is a Science. But there is no denying the fact that the ability to set goals is one of the most powerful skills that anybody can have in order to live a fulfilled, successful life. It is also a fact that the vast majority of people go through life without ever setting goals and the sad part is that they are not even aware of this.
They generally drift through life without any direction and wonder to themselves why Life is so unkind to them. Hence the ability to set goals and work towards them is one of the most powerful ways to life an extraordinary life.
I have described below “The 7 step process to setting goals”.
Decide what you want in life.
Think in your mind about all the goals that you want to achieve. This is a process of introspection and trying to understand yourself. You need to be clear in your mind about what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy. What are your dreams ? What are your passions ? What do you like to do or enjoy doing with your time ? When are you the most happy ? What activities get you excited ? Think about what is it that you want out of life. What do you keep wishing or hoping for ?
Write them down
Just deciding in your mind or knowing your goals in your mind is not enough. It can be forgotten, it can change, it can lose its importance over time. What you now need to do is to write it down as clearly as possible. Take a piece of paper or open your computer and put down in black and white all the goals that you have thought about in your mind. Do not worry about the nature or type of goals. It does not matter how silly, how foolish or how absurd the goal looks like. Write it down. It does not matter how big or how impossible the dream looks like, just write it down. Do not evaluate the goals at this stage. Do not worry about how it is going to happen, just write everything down.
Make the goals specific with details
The goals that you have written down will be of a very general nature and may be vague. You need to write these goals down so that they are more specific. You can use the acronym “ SMART “ to do this.
SMART stands for
S –Specific ( Give exact dates, numbers, values and other details )
M – Measurable ( Make sure that whatever goal you write down, they can be measured over a period of time )
A – Achievable ( They should be in the realm of possibility but with a stretch )
R – Realisitic ( They have to be realistic in nature and not a goal from a fairy tale )
T – Time Bound ( Give all the goals a timeline or a finishing date or milestones in between )
You need to do all the above with all of your goals.
Go through all your goals and look at the importance of each in your life. All goals will not be of equal importance. So you need to re-arrange all your goals in order of priority. There is of course no right or wrong. This is a very personal decision and this will depend on your principles, your values, your passions and your beliefs.
Break them down into manageable chunks of activity
Now look in detail at each goal and break them into at least 10 steps or 10 tasks. You might have less than 10 for some of the goals but much more than 10 for other goals. It does not matter. The idea here is to break these goals into manageable steps that you can work towards on a day to day basis. What you are really doing here is bringing the time horizon closer. So let us say you have a 10 year goal and in order to achieve that goal after 10 years you need to start doing something today. So you are breaking down that goal into activities that you need to do today, this week, in the next 90 days, over the coming year etc. These could also be looked at as sub goals or short term goals that will ultimately lead to the big goal.
Now that you have a list of short term goals and activities you need to start doing them. Look at your list of activities for today and just start doing them one by one. Action is one of the most important steps. You can do everything else but if you don’t take action nothing is going to happen and you will never be able to move forward.
You have now set out on the path of achieving your goals but you need to now continuously monitor your progress and review. Check your progress against the milestones that you had set and find out what is going right and what is going wrong. There will need to be some corrections done and you will continue moving forward after doing those course corrections. This is an ongoing process and you will continue doing this until you reach your goal.
And finally once you have reached or attained your goal, don’t forget to reward yourself and celebrate.