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The Importance of Goal Setting

Why should we set ourselves Goals?

  • To give direction to life

  • To make sure we are the one choosing the direction of our life -- not others, not fate, not the media, etc.

  • To motivate

  • To make sure we get what we want from life

  • To save time

  • To reduce stress

  • To give a sense of accomplishment

While it can be fun to live without direction in the short-term, in the long-term human beings are wired to need a purpose and direction. Goals give a sense of direction and purpose to life. The start of a new year is the ideal time to set yourselves goals for the year.

It is often easy to let others set our direction for us. We take a job because family or friends pointed us in that direction, or we follow the dictates of our superiors. We move in other directions because popular culture or the media tells us to do so. The simple truth is that if we do not set our own goals then we will find it too easy to follow a path set by others. This can lead to stress and unhappiness. We have a greater chance of happiness and fulfilment following our own path and pursuing our own goals.

While goals certainly give our lives direction, they also provide the motivation to get us through difficult times and choices. Perhaps doing an online course at night while working full-time may be stressful and difficult in the short-term, but in the long run being able to pursue the professional goals we desire will make it worthwhile.

Goals also serve as the destination for what we really want out of life. For some people, goals are measured in money or material goods, while for others, goals are measured in time or freedom. If we do not have goals outlined that suit our unique perspective on life it is easy to become side-tracked by life and others.

Goals can also help save time. When your "To Do" list becomes too long and your calendar too full, then you can simply compare your goals to the list. What items help you achieve your goal? What items are necessary to your goal? Scratch off the rest as unimportant.

Just as goals save time they also reduce stress because using your goals to focus your life and choices makes it easier to make those choices. Should you take that new position at work? How does it match your goals?

Finally, goals give you a measurable sense of accomplishment. Every goal you achieve, in fact every step you make toward that goal, can give you a boost of energy and momentum to keep going. Each success powers you toward the next level of success.

So how to go about setting these Goals?

Firstly, I would recommend you look at what your ultimate Vision for your life is. What is it you want to have achieved when you get to the end of your life and look back? Is there a sentence or a few words that can describe it? What is the ultimate Goal for your life? Are your Vision and Goal fully aligned?

Then look at the main components of one’s life to consider (see the Wheel of Life below) and measure how you are doing in each of these. Plot on a scale of 0 to 10 where you believe you are currently sitting in each segment. 0 means you are not doing great (dissatisfied) and 10 means you are satisfied. Next, plot where you would like to see yourself in each segment and mark it down. Remember, realistically not each segment can be a 10 and the balance will be personal.

Look at which of these categories you would most like to improve. What actions could you take to improve each score? Try and list at least three action steps for this. If there was one key action or immediate small step you could take that would begin to bring everything into balance, what would it be?

Lastly, goal setting can be vastly enhanced by using the SMART principle. Goals should be well defined and clear. Refine your Goals by going through the steps below whilst also considering what personal strengths you can use to overcome potential obstacles in the achievement of your Goals.

SPECIFIC: - Ask yourself who needs to be involved, what do I need to do, where will I attain this goal, when can I reach it by and why do I want to attain this goal?

MEASUREABLE: How are you going to recognise when you have reached this goal?

ACHIEVABLE: Do you have the available skills, time and budget to achieve this goal?

REALISTIC: Will you be able to achieve this goal looking at your current resources of skill, time and budget?

TIMELY: Set a beginning/start and end/finish date for your goal.

Now go out and set up those 2023 Goals

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