It is important to understand how to set goals properly. There’s a proven process and a technique you need to understand and follow if truly want to win at goal-setting.
I have identified 11 questions you need to ask yourself to improve your chance of achieving anything you want. And I will be sharing them with you below. Believing these myths about setting goals will surely decrease your chances of success.
But first, you need to understand what a goal is…
Goal Setting Definition
The question is: “Why do you still fail to achieve your goals?” Part of the reason lies in understanding “What are goals?”
Here’s what Brian Tracy said about goals:
A goal is like a beautiful home, carefully designed, revised continually, upgraded regularly, and worked on constantly. If it is not in writing, it is merely a dream or a wish, a vague objective with no energy behind it.
We live our lives in structured actions and we go through processes to get ahead. It is just that we don’t want to think of these as working towards a goal.
Look at an identity-goal of becoming a doctor for example:
To become a doctor, you have to:
- Go to school
- Take biology and science lessons
- Read and write home works and tests
- Get good grades at the end of the year
- Graduate from high school and enrol at a medical school
- Learn what doctors learn and graduate
- Do in-service training or internship
- Start practicing as a doctor
- Dollars start rolling into your bank account as you serve people
Having a clear plan of action on the goals you’ve set for yourself offers several benefits.
It is not about plain goals, but goals you are passionate about. Your goals need to be in line with what excites you.
You get to be more organized and happier in life when you achieve your personal goals.
I didn’t like the idea of getting up every morning to go to work. But, I had to anyway, because I had to work hard and trade my time for money so that I could put food on the table.
How did I manage to get up even when I didn’t feel like? Because my body has done this many times. It was like a habit.
I just had to force myself to get up and go. But was this my goal in life? Yes.
Growing up, society taught me to go to school, get good grades, get a job and have security.
But, did I like going to work every morning even when I wasn’t in a mood?
What happened as a result?
I wasn’t happy. I felt stressed, tired and sick. I arrived late at work because I didn’t set my goals at work, my employer did.
Guess what happened?
My performance dropped. I felt useless because I wasn’t contributing to the best of my ability. I got demotivated. I didn’t feel like I had a sense of purpose.
I then started using the company’s time to develop myself to grow in the things that I loved doing.
How many people do this at work all the time?
How many people do unproductive, non-work related things on social media during working hours?
It just happens naturally when you aren’t happy with you work.
It’s like when you no longer enjoy the relationship you’re in, you start looking for something better outside.
When you don’t set your own goals, you often end up doing the things you don’t like.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”-Jim Rohn.
So, it is important to understand what goals are so that you can set the right goals for yourself.
What are goals?
According to Tim Vizzini, “Goals are the end result of a series of actions. The logical outcome of having a plan and breaking that plan into manageable tasks that are measurable and immediate. All goals are a set of tasks. But not just any tasks, the right tasks in the right direction done in the right way.”
Samith Pich said, “All goals are a set of tasks with a deadline.”
Understanding what a goal is will help you through your goal setting process with ease. You will most likely understand that when things don’t go according to plan, you aren’t a failure, too.
Most people get embarrassed when they turn 40. Why?
Because when they look back, they realize that they haven’t accomplished much. You’ll hear, “Wow, I can’t believe that time flies so much.”
Would you like to say this at some point in your life when you evaluate and reflect on your achievements?
It’s all about living life to the fullest in the sense of purpose, not just play and party, with no results to show.
Now that you know what a goal is, let’s get into the process of goal setting…
Set S.M.A.R.T Goals To Increase Your Chance Of Success
You were told to set S.M.A.R.T goals before, right? Let’s recap.
S.M.A.R.T stands for:
S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting Questions
A specific goal answers the following 11 questions:
- What exactly do you want you achieve?
You have to have a strong reason why you want to achieve your goal.
When you are struggling to find the reason why you set out that goal, ask yourself this:
- What is the purpose of doing whatever it takes to achieve your goal?
- Why do you have to do it?
- Is it really that important?
- Is it a priority in your life?
- What benefits would you get when you have attained your goal?
- What personal and environmental constraints would affect your efforts?
It is also critical to specify who will be involved in your goal during goal setting.
You have to identify the exact place to perform specific tasks towards your goal.
You have to know exactly what you need to achieve your goals.
Vague goals allow for many possible outcomes as compared to specific goals.
According to Ligen and colleagues, specific goals produce better performance than ambiguous goals.
Liyin Jin and colleagues suggest that specific goals might be difficult at first. Your commitment to taking action increases your chances of achieving your goals.
Liyin argues that sticking to a strict plan makes it easier to achieve goals.
As you set your S.M.A.R.T goals, you need to ensure that they are measurable. Ask yourself these goal setting questions in addition to the ones stated above:
Here are more goal setting questions you need to answer…
- How would you know when you have achieved your goals?
- What specific actions do you need to take to achieve your goals?
- How would you Here’s my track your progress?
A measurable goal is one that specifies how much you plan to achieve. That’s why it is important to set personal goals you’re capable of achieving.
Different people have a different level of performance.
This depends on various things, like experience, resources, knowledge, skills, core values and mindset.
You can set an easy goal, but specific and difficult goals produce high performance. But, difficult goals may require increased effort.
It might serve you well to set easy goals in the beginning to help you develop good habits of sticking to your goals. But, you might need to set more challenging goals that will stretch you and make you grow more.
It is important that your goals align with your core values. You also need to consider your current situation, your abilities and capabilities.
A relevant and good personal goal aligns with your personality, skills, knowledge and environment. It must also be the right time to pursue it.
Time-bound refers to the deadline you will set to achieve your goal.
Ask yourself this goal setting questions:
- When do I want to achieve this goal?
You need to look at the time it would take to get the outcome and then break the goal into milestones.
What can I do six months from now?’
What can I do on a monthly basis to move towards the outcome of my goal?
What can I do on a weekly basis towards my goal?
What can I do on a daily basis to achieve my goals?
Let’s look at real life goal setting examples:
A vague goal: “I want to lose weight.”
S.M.A.R.T goal: “I want to lose 36 pounds this year.”
Let me take you through the process of setting this goal in a way that will improve your chances of success. You need to specify the step or a specific action plan you need to take to achieve your goal.
It is good to have a reason why you’re doing to see potential benefits that you may get from doing the tasks.
Specify the exact steps you need to take to achieve your goals. I like using “I” when setting my life goals. This means that I owe the goal and I’m committed to achieving it.
Step 1: I spent 30 minutes every day at the gym doing fat-burning exercises.
Because I want to burn my belly fat and lose at least 3 pounds every week. At the end of the year, I will lose 36 pounds.
Step 2: Now ask yourself this question: “Do I have the resources to do this? What else do I need to be able to achieve my goal? Whose support do I need?”
Yes. I already have the budget for transport to get to the gym and for my membership fees.
At the gym, there are fitness trainers to help me.
There are other people who are on the same mission as me and we’ll encourage and support one another.
I am prepared to adjust my lifestyle habits and I’m ready to eat healthy foods to achieve my goal.
Step 3: Now ask yourself this: “Does your goal align with your core values?”
Yes. My mindset, core values, beliefs and energy align excellently with this goal and it is the right time to do. This goal fits in well with my lifestyle.
It is relevant.
Step 4: What if things don’t go well?
I am open-minded, flexible and I accept every challenge that may arise.
Step 5: Last goal setting question: “At the end of the year, what benefits will I get after losing 36 pounds?”
Wow. The benefits are numerous…(Smiles)
- I will be very excited
- I will feel 36 pounds lighter
- My old clothes will fit me again
- I won’t have to buy new clothes and this will save me money and time for shopping. I will use that money and time for other important things in my life
- I will feel more energetic
- My vitality will improve
- My health will improve and my risk for heart disease and others conditions will be low
For sure you now understand how to set S.M.A.R.T goals.
When you set goals and put your eyes on the price, you feel motivated to get up and do it. Think about what benefits you’ll get when you achieve your goal.
Don’t get discouraged along the way. Focus on small incremental achievements along the way.
Now that you’ve had great things about setting personal goals and the benefits you may get from achieving your goals, let’s get a little scientific…
Yes. I’ll get to that in a moment.
Let’s get this out of the way.
You might know of the Harvard University or The Yale University study of 1953.
Apparently, participants in the Harvard study were MBA graduates. The study revealed that only 3% of students who wrote their goals were worth more than the rest.
The purpose of the study was to proof that if you write your goals, you’ll achieve more than if you didn’t. And setting goals increases your chances to achieve them.
But, did this study happen?
Various reports state that this study never happened. It was a myth!
Here are few people who researched the validity and the source of the Harvard/Yale study:
Sid Savara wrote a great article about the exciting results from the Harvard study. But this is what he had to say:
“Isn’t True Just Because The Internet Said So – Or Books Either, Apparently.”
Lawrence Tabak says Anthony Robbins and Zig Ziglar quoted the study at their events. And The Fast Company says Brian Tracy couldn’t reveal the source of the Harvard study, too.
His response was, “I heard this story originally from Zig Ziglar. If it’s not true it should be.”
Silas Spengler who was secretary of the Class of 1953 said no one stated personal goals. But most of the graduates predicted their future lines of work.
Beverly Waters, the research Associate, said: “We are quite confident that the ‘study’ did not take place. We suspect it is a myth.”
The Harvard study or the Yale University study never happened. Just forget it.
Here’s an interesting fact: Goal setting works!
Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University studied 267 participants. She found that people who did the following three things were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals:
- Wrote their goals
- Shared them with a friend
3. And sent weekly updates to that friend
Now that research in psychology has proven that goal setting works, what do you need to achieve your goals?