A Guide to Goal Setting

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Goal can be defined as something that an individual or a group of people aim to achieve. One might envision, plan and commit to achieve a desired objective within a finite time by setting deadlines. In other words, goal can also be termed as an anticipated result which motivates a person to direct his/ her effort.Persistence and patience are two important qualities which help in achieving one’s goals and leads to success.
What are Goals?
Goals are specific, close-ended quantifiable objectives with a fixed time frame for achieving them. Goals can be broken down into smaller and short terms objectives, which then become checkpoints for making sure that you are on the right track.
Why Set Goals?
Without clear, specific goals, even the most diligent work inevitably turns into nothing more than an unavoidable interruption between weekends.
  • Goals help concentrate energy: By defining what needs to be done and setting reasonable time limits for it, goals can help bring out the best in you. In terms of bringing out true accomplishments, the obstacles are really the foundations of our achievements.
  • Goals give you direction: To understand the importance of goals, one can take the cliché of traveling without a destination. It might actually give you pleasure if you are on a vacation. But, does it make sense when you are not on a vacation? Certainly not! Goals have the same effect. You decide the destination and the time frame and it automatically facilitates the decision regarding the route. Once the route is decided, you can check whether you are on the right track and on schedule.

Step-by-Step Approach to Goal Setting:

Following are the essential points to keep in mind while setting a goal.

Goal Setting: An ongoing process of self discovery
Regardless of what anyone has told you about yourself and your capabilities, you can call upon your inner vision to recognize what others may have been unable to see. The chipping away can be an ongoing process of self discovery and accomplishment in every area of your life. Unlike Michelangelo, who had only one opportunity to sculpt that huge block of marble, you have many opportunities to create a life that matches the goals you have set for yourself.
You need to ask yourself: Are your goals flexible enough to survive the constantly changing environment we live in? What happens when you suddenly have to plot a new course? Are you able to successfully handle the sudden transitions that occur? Do you have a strong inner belief to overcome the effects of negative criticism?
Finding Your Passion
Try to answer four basic questions:
  • "If it were not for money, time, and personal responsibilities what would I really love to do with my life? In other words, if you were free to do whatever you wanted, what would you begin doing tomorrow morning? The other three questions will help you clarify your response. 
  • What did you love to do as a child? or What were you really good at? What made you feel proud?
  • What makes you feel that way now?
  • Are you doing something to benefit other people? Does that give you a feeling of self-respect and accomplishment?
    A remarkable series of films, been made in England over a twenty-eight-year period, disclosed that what we love and do well as children continues to be our real talent as adults.
Setting Goals: When and How
  • When to set Goals?
    You can safely use the following two clichés here: 'Sooner the Better' and 'it’s never too late'. Though, NOW is the time to set goals, it is never too late to begin. So, instead of repenting on not having set goals earlier and wasting precious years, it is prudent to make a beginning at the earliest.
  • How to set Goals?
    It is hard to find a person without a dream. For setting goals, there is no better way of starting from the present and then working backwards. This would lead us to a gap analysis. We can find the gap between what we want to be and what we are.
In a document that you can access at any time, write down your Life-Forming Goals.
The number of Life-Forming Goals should be very limited. You should have no more than three or four of them in each of two categories: professional goals and personal goals. Your best chance of achieving your Life-forming-goals would be to compare your actual performance with the set goals and make need based corrections from time to time both in the goals and the actions to achieve them.
When you have written the Life-Forming Goals, get ready to define the intervening steps that will realize those dreams. To stay focused, think of goals in terms of three time frames: Long-term Goals, Intermediate Goals, and Immediate Goals. Thus, by following these tips we can easily set our goals and also achieve them.
Rules of Goals Setting
  • Believe in your dreams:
    There are two different types of beliefs - positive and negative. Positive belief, in the form of a goal, is the key to unlock the door of success for every human. Conversely, negative beliefs are the mind blocks that can permanently prevent us from gaining access to success.
  • Clearly define your goal:
    Know what you want in your personal and professional life. You should be able to describe your plan in detail. Set your own target date in order to achieve the goal. Make a step by step plan to finally reach your goal.
  • Do what it takes to win:
    Most people think in terms of an eight-hour day. To win, you have to be doing what no one else is.
  • Remain adaptable to change:
    Change is constant and ongoing. Individuals and organizations with rigid structures are prone to being swept away easily. But, individuals and organizational cultures that adapt rapidly to change survive and thrive. It is imperative to be alert for new opportunities as you progress along your chosen path.
Reality Checks for Your Goals
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Following are some questions that will help you determine how realistic your goals are:
  • Does success or failure depend primarily on you?
    Avoid goals that depend on others or on luck for accomplishment. A man prayed every night "dear God, please let me win the lottery … once… just let me win and I'll never bother you again!" For several years he uttered the same prayer. Then one night, he had a dream that God appeared to him and spoke these words: "you've got to meet me halfway. At least buy a ticket!"
  • Do you take into account the help you'll need from others?
    Observe the leaders in your chosen field. Study how they think about their work and their lives in general. More importantly, find out how they solve problems and create opportunities. Pick up ideas by being alert and open.
  • Examine individual goals in terms of importance and difficulty of achievement.
    Once you start thinking of achieving your goals in a step by step manner, you'll realize how much you can really accomplish. For instance, rather than planning to read a book in one sitting, read 3 pages of a book every day. Doing things one step at a time, you can literally transform your life.
  • Is the time frame for achieving the goal challenging and realistic?
    For sub-goals, you should have a time frame challenging enough so that your deadlines take some real effort to meet, but make it realistic enough so that you reach your objective on schedule most of the time.
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