Goal setting: From The Immediate Tasks To The Big Picture
Every new goal is an opportunity to grow, personally and professionally.
This year, instead of just setting goals, I resolved to meet more of them, and I eagerly went on a quest to narrow down what is working for me.
Here’s a look at what I do and what you can do to help achieve your goals, too.
1. Create a vision
Before you set individual goals, consider defining your vision. Why? Because your vision is your long-term picture that establishes your priorities for making short-term decisions.
You can set as many visions as core areas in your life. Take this distribution by Zig Ziglar:
I think that every part of the wheel is important and it can’t be isolated. But I also think that some parts require more attention that others. So, once you know which areas you want to focus on, the next step is to create a vision statement.
Here’s an example of a vision statement related to money:
“I am actively saving and investing for early retirement. I increase my savings by living on monthly budgets and pruning unnecessary costs. I am earning money beyond a company’s employment.”
Sounds like a promise, doesn’t it? That’s what a vision statement is: a commitment to your future, put into words to help guide your efforts.
2. Make the goal your goal
In health and fitness, we all know the initial enthusiasm followed by the sad realization of failure. And that is when the real work begins. The thought goes, “Uuuugh, I have to keep going to the gym, and keep working out forever? I might as well quit.”
It’s really easy to blame forces outside of our control when we fail to achieve what we want. It’s “the weather” that keeps you from exercising. It’s “the time going by” that kills your relationship. It’s “your boss” that keeps you from improving your career. It’s “the system” that keeps you from saving money.
Here’s the thing: you won’t meet your goals until you embrace the ownership of your actions. If something depends on you, you can really take control.
3. Start a plan
Let’s assume that you have a goal of creating a blog. If I ask you what type of blog you want to start and you reply, “something about my life.” Do you think that motivates you? Probably not. The problem here is that the end state isn’t clear.
Conversely, if your goal is specific and timely, such as “Decide what to blog about, pick a domain name, choose a platform, find a hosting and write 5 blog posts by September”, now you have something to aspire for; you have a mental cue that triggers your focus and motivates you to begin creating your blog.
At this point, having a planner or using your Google calendar is a great way to track your progress. I personally use Trello to organize my blog because it’s the easiest project management tool I’ve found online. It’s basically the online version of the typical cork board where you have cards (like sticky notes) that can be dragged and dropped onto lists.
This is how mine currently looks like:
4. Get a Buddy
A Buddy is that person you trust who is also striving to achieve goals in life – just like you.
How can you find your Buddy?
Easy. Look for someone in your already-existing circle that shares a similar vision as you. Is there someone you know that’s taking a serious interest in investing? Is there someone you know working hard on their career? What about someone who’s newly committed to exercise?
Go for coffee with that person. Send messages to motivate that person. Find ways to share activities with that person. Buddy up with that person.
I share my investing goals with my boyfriend, and it helps me stay focused on the tasks I need to do: automatize money transfers, review my portfolio, stay informed about financial news... I know personally that if my Buddy, besides me, is tracking my progress, I’m more likely to stay on track.
5. Take time to celebrate
This is probably my favorite thing about meeting goals: celebrating!
If you are constantly looking ahead and never taking the time to celebrate, you will most likely get burnt out.
No matter how small the win, it’s worth taking a step back and celebrating your success. That way you’re cultivating your motivation to keep moving and becoming more proactive!
How you celebrate it is up to you – but just do it and have some fun. :)
Bringing it all together
Goal setting works because it guides your focus.
While the process of defining your goals helps unearth what’s truly important to you, pursuing your goals is the real money-maker because it builds self efficacy and determination.
Remember, “if you talk about it, it's a dream, but if you schedule it, it's real.” Start with goal setting.
Cheers to that!