Let’s start with a fundamental lesson on goal setting. Only a goal that helps you right now is a goal that has been properly set. That’s right. This probably contradicts what most people around you think, and what they would tell you, but that’s because most people have no idea how to take a correct or realistic approach to goal setting.
Most people set their goals backwards. They set a monumentally huge goal for some point well into the future. They fail to achieve the goal, and they typically end up either wondering why or blaming it on a lack of time. What is goal setting anyway?
The purpose of goal setting should be to approve a target that gives you increased focus and definition concerning what you need to do to achieve that goal.
This process helps you right now. Another way to put it is that the process of goal setting should simply be used as a method to get oneself in the proper frame of mind to accomplish something. After setting a goal, one shouldn’t be focused on the goal itself, but one should be focused on the necessary steps they need to take in order to make it possible to achieve the goal.
Do You Fire Randomly At Your Goals?
A sniper doesn’t pick a target, and then start firing randomly in the general direction of that target. Instead, a sniper checks the target, then adjusts for wind speed, wind direction, humidity, distance to the target, and more. Only after making all of his or her adjustments does the sniper fire their weapon.
In this example, once the target was set, the sniper knew what he or she had to do first in order to accomplish hitting the target. The target gives the sniper the direction to carry out a string of actions, and the focus required to perform those actions efficiently. The sniper knows that by carrying out said actions, they drastically improve their chances of hitting the target, whereas, if they just fired randomly from a long distance, they would likely never hit the target. Do you see how having a goal in mind helps a sniper take the necessary steps to achieve that goal?
When it comes to goal setting, a lot of people tend to go about setting a goal with no idea of how they plan to achieve that goal. They only know that they want whatever benefit will come from reaching their goal. This type of person then ends up “firing randomly” at the target, instead of taking carefully planned steps to accomplish their goal. These are the people who rarely, if ever, follow through and actually accomplish their goals.
To follow this effective and realistic approach to goal setting, one should instead go about setting a goal in such a way that it gives oneself an idea of how to get there. One could then even set mini-goals to defeat smaller obstacles on the way to accomplishing the ultimate goal. When you have to drive somewhere that you aren’t familiar with, do you just start driving down random roads to try to get there? I imagine not. Instead, you probably check a map or ask someone how to get there, so that you have correct directions for how to get to your goal.
Stop Setting Time Limits When Goal Setting
When setting a goal, don’t give yourself a time limit unless you absolutely have to. You might be thinking that in some situations, a time limit may help to motivate you to move quickly. That may be true. However, in other situations, you may perceive time to be going by too quickly for you to keep up with, which can cause you to become de-motivated due to thinking you simply won’t be able to achieve the goal before time is up. You may even give up altogether.
If you want to lose weight, for example, don’t try setting a goal (no matter if it’s March or August) to lose X pounds by the end of the year. Sure, if you were to reach your goal early, you can stroke your precious ego by bragging to your friends about how fast you were able to lose the weight. However, when November comes around, if you still have, let’s say, 18 pounds to lose, you’ll likely become very de-motivated, especially if you plan to partake in a large feast or two over the holiday season. You may decide there’s no point in continuing your efforts to lose the weight.
In the approach to goal setting that I am describing, a person who is setting a goal for weight loss should simply set a goal to lose X pounds. Once that has been determined, use that goal to focus on HOW you are going to lose weight and what direction you can take to get there. Are you going to follow a particular diet? Are you going to exercise?
Now, think in terms of specifics. Continuing the weight loss goal example, it’s not enough to say you’re going to diet and exercise. This is where miniature goal setting comes in to play. Set a small goal to come up with a specific diet plan and another goal to find or create a specific exercise plan. Once you reach those small goals, set little goals for yourself to follow those plans, or even set multiple, small weight loss goals, such as 2 pounds, then 5 pounds, followed by 8 pounds to gradually build toward your ultimate goal.
One is far more likely to accomplish a large goal by taking this approach. If you have a history of setting big goals for yourself and coming up short of reaching them, I highly suggest that you try this method. After all, wouldn’t you agree that this is a much more effective and realistic approach to goal setting than setting a time sensitive goal and just blindly trying to accomplish it?
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