Ready, Set, Goal!
I've spent most of my professional career working on a commission-based structure. Goal setting is always a big part of that. I have daily, monthly, and yearly sales goals that I am expected to make in order to keep my job. What this has taught me is how important setting goals really is.
I have taken this skill and applied it to other aspects of my life for many years. Goal setting keeps you focused and puts things into perspective. I know it might sound mundane or trite, but it doesn't have to be. It can actually be fun to set personal goals. It is a way to dream with a purpose.
Goal Setting vs. Intentions
There is a difference between goal setting and intention work. Although intention work is very useful in its own right, intentions are something that you send out to the universe more or less asking for help. Goals are something that you personally plan to do with a way to get it done. It is more of a road map to accomplish what you set out to do. I do both goal setting and intention work, and they both have their distinct place and function in my life. You certainly can use intention work to help to enhance your current goals. There is nothing wrong with that, but try not to use intention work alone.
Write it Down
The first step to goal setting is to write it down. A goal not written down is just a dream or a thought. When you put your goals down on paper, it brings it into perspective and starts to make you accountable. It doesn't matter how high the goal may seem to be to you at the time. And it's perfectly all right if you later find that your goal is not what you can accomplish in the time frame that you set. It can always be adjusted later. The idea is to get the wheels in motion.
Be realistic about it. For instance, setting a goal to win the lottery is really not a goal. Yes, you can take steps like buying your tickets every week, but it is something that relies totally on chance. You really have no control over it. Goals are something that you have control over and can take steps to accomplish.
Make a Plan
Goals without a plan never work. Let's say that you have set 5 goals that you want to get done by the end of the month. Good job! Now how are you going to accomplish those goals? Break it down for yourself.
You have a goal to put $300 in your savings account this month. Great! Now what can you do to accomplish this? Break it down a bit. Write down some things that you are going to cut back on. Not buying that Starbucks this month. Moving a set amount of money over to your savings account every payday and not touching it.
Spend some time when you are thinking about how to accomplish these goals. Keep it simple, and don't abuse yourself. It's easy to write down that you are going to move a certain amount of money over to savings every pay but if it means that you can't pay your bills if you do, then you will not be able to to accomplish that goal. It will just cause defeat and and make you not want to set goals anymore.
Have a Deadline
Goals without a deadline are just wishes. I have found that it is a good idea to have your goals broken down by time periods. Daily, monthly, yearly, and even a 2-5 year span.
I write down my yearly goals every birthday. I don't look at New Year's Day as the beginning of my new year. I have always thought that my new year begins on my birthday. I take out my last year's goals and look at them to see what I accomplished compared to what I didn't. Life can get in your way sometimes, and you might have to adjust your time frame for certain goals. I simply just add that goal to the new year and break down to what I plan to do to accomplish it.
Where I currently work, we have what is called a huddle sheet. Everyday that we come in we are supposed to write down what we are going to sell that day. It is one of my jobs to ask the folks that are working that day what they plan to sell. I am always amazed at the answers that I get. There is rarely a reason or a plan behind their answer. The best way to answer this question is to look at where your sales are for the month and see if you are on track to making your goal. If you are ahead, then great, go with what your daily goal is and add a stretch. If you are behind, then the logical thing to do would be to add to what your daily goal is in order to be on track.
This idea works for all of your goals. Do you have a goal to pay off a credit card by the end of the year? You can only pay the minimum a couple of times so now you have fallen behind a bit. Now what you need to do is adjust the next few payments to bring yourself back up to speed. Do the math and maybe just add an additional $10 a month when you pay your bill.
Easy Does It
Some goals are really big. Don't expect to accomplish a huge goal in a short amount of time. I call this goal suicide. Break it up over a longer period of time.
You want to lose 30 pounds. Well it is physically impossible and not healthy to try to do this in one month. So you take it one day at a time over a long period. Break it down to what you can do a little at a time to make this happen. Change your diet and give up sweets. Exercise 2 times a week to start until you've built up your muscles and add a day.
One step at a time is always the best way to handle big goals. Don't defeat yourself by expecting to get results all at once. It is perfectly fine to be slow and steady in your bigger goals.
Make it Fun
Have fun when you are setting your goals. Goals don't always have to be about money or your physical body. Make goals to meet up with friends once a month or to buy yourself something special each month.
When you add in fun goals, it keeps you motivated and helps to keep you focused on the harder goals. Life is meant to be lived, so set some goals that you enjoy doing. Doing this will help to keep your life well rounded. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.