Often, there is not a clear understanding of what it means to set goals. According to Wikipedia, “goal setting involves the development of an action plan designed to motivate and guide a person or group towards a goal.” Basically, you need a specific way to achieve something. It’s never too late to improve your goal-setting abilities!

While life doesn’t always need to be about setting and achieving goals, it is a great way to add purpose to your day. You are often less motivated to jump out of bed on the days when you have nothing planned, which can carry you throughout the day, making you feel like you accomplished nothing. By having something to work for, you can give yourself a sense of purpose.

Improve your goal setting.

The most commonly accepted model of creating goals is the SMART method. This is the best way to improve goal setting. When setting your goal, it is best to ask yourself if it is:

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Time-based

When your goal satisfies all (or at least most of) these criteria, you will be more likely to achieve it. If your personal goal is to walk more, you will be more successful if you make it specific that you will walk 10,000 steps every day for a week. This defines what you want, giving yourself a clearer understanding if you’ve achieved your goal or not.

You can set SMART goals for nearly anything.

They can be based on your mental, emotional or physical health, for work or personal life. The timeline can be as short term as a few seconds or long term over several years as you desire. You can include other people in your goals as well. The possibilities are endless.

There are different ways to approach goal planning.

Just pick one and roll with it.

This is great if you already have a specific goal in mind or you just want to get in the habit of accomplishing goals. Best if it is quick and easy like cleaning your kitchen in the next twenty minutes.

The Tony Robbins method.

While Robbins provides coaching to help you create a compelling future, he offers a lot of content for free on his website. Take six minutes to write down as many goals that you would like to do or experience for the next twenty years. Choose four that you can do within the next year and write a paragraph for each as to why you will accomplish this goal. Review and update your list of goals yearly.

The Warren Buffet method.

Warren Buffet, nicknamed the Oracle of Omaha, is accredited with this goal-setting theory. Write down your top 25 goals and then circle the five that are most important to you. Focus only on those five until they are achieved. Then you can begin to look at the others on your list- and you might discover that they are no longer as important to you.

The Rolf Smith’s diff-ferent method.

Make a list of 101 goals. They can be as simple or as complex (or even as bizarre) as you like. Take as much time as you need to complete this. This list is great for people who are struggling to find what they want out of life.

While you may or may not accomplish everything on this list, it will give you a sense of what you value most. Repeat as often or as little as you like! (Creating 101 goals is a great way to plant ideas in your subconscious mind that you may come to accomplish without actively thinking of it.) Rolf Smith’s The 7 Levels of Change is a great resource about how to think and approach situations differently.

(If you like to journal, this is a great entry to fill a few pages!)

Want a bit more about the studies and the science behind goal setting? Check out Positive Psychology’s article about it! They talk about the different classifications of goal-setting, how they are effective, and how you can use goal-setting to become successful.

Thinking of goals.

If you’re a bit stuck as to what some goals could be, here are a few suggestions to improve your goal setting. (If it helps, think of it like a bucket list.)

  • Stretch for 10 minutes every day for a week.
  • Travel to France for the 2024 Olympic Games.
  • Read all of Agatha Christie’s novels.
  • Watch a TED talk live.
  • Write a novel by age 35.
  • Go a month only drinking water.
  • Be an extra in a film.
  • Complete a half-marathon.
  • Have a conversation with someone in a foreign language.
  • Start your own coffee chain.
  • Do a wine-tasting tour.

The possibilities are truly endless! Inspiration can come from anywhere, be it the idea that has been in your head for months now or the rekindling of a childhood passion.

Get others involved for motivation.

If you struggle with staying motivated, you can ask someone close to you for help. They can keep you on track and help you to remain accountable. You can achieve your goal of running a marathon by training daily with your best friend. Plan your trip to Japan with your sister so that you have a travel buddy and it is harder to back out.

The only caution with sharing your goals with people is that it can make your brain believe you’ve already accomplished them. If you tell 100 people that you are going to write a novel, chances are that several of them will already begin to treat you like an author. Your brain interprets this change as a success, and since you’ve already “succeeded,” you are less likely to work as hard to achieve your goal.

The exception to this is by talking to someone you perceive as having a higher status than you about your goals. By telling your piano teacher that you are going to learn an incredibly hard piece of music, like Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromtu, then your teacher will hold you accountable to achieving that goal.

Improving your goal-setting abilities allows you to take control of your life. Goals can give you purpose and boost your sense of accomplishment. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you could do today. You deserve to make the most of your life.

What are the goals you want to accomplish?

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Written by Kayla Willsey

Updated May 14, 2021