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10 Steps To Personal And Professional Goal Setting

A notepad with a pen on top.
A notepad with a pen on top.

You’re probably no stranger to setting goals. Whether it’s something work related like getting a promotion, or something more personal like losing weight, we’ve all set goals at some point. Even our long forgotten New Year’s resolutions can be classified as a type of goal, as can our desire to get through our to-do list before the end of the week.

Despite many of us setting personal and professional goals, we often struggle to actually meet them; 92% of people that set new year’s goals never actually achieve them.

While the stats might seem disheartening, setting goals is crucial and here are some tips to help you out with them.

1. Identify

The very first step in any goal setting exercise is to identify what you actually want to achieve. Do you want to take on five new clients at work? Do you want to deadlift a certain weight at the gym? Do you want to learn to play the guitar?

2. Motivation

From here it’s important to figure out the motivation behind your goal. Ask yourself what is prompting you to want to achieve it? What is going to motivate you to take the steps to reach your goal?

This motivation can be external or internal, but it’s important that the drive behind your goals is something sustainable and not easily written off.

3. Write it down

A study found that when people wrote down their goals, they were 33% more successful in achieving them than those who just formulated outcomes in their head. Getting goals into a physical form on paper solidifies them, as well as making you more accountable.

4. Make them specific

One of the worst habits of people who constantly fail to reach their goals is that they’re not specific. They use general statements like ‘I want to be better at my job’ or ‘I want to be healthier.’

While vague statements like these can be good to give you an idea of the general concept of your goal, it needs to be drilled down into something more specific if you have any hope of actually doing it.

5. Make them measurable

Goals needs to be measurable in order to be achieved. Making things measurable means you can track your progress towards them rather than jumping in headfirst and hoping you’ll achieve a goal overnight. Tracking how you’re going with your goal is crucial to keeping yourself motivated, rewarding yourself when successful and putting yourself back on track.

6. Attainable

While there’s nothing wrong with having big goals (setting Big Hairy Audacious Goals or BHAG is another exercise in itself), in order to achieve them they need to be attainable. Aim big but keep goals within your abilities and not something completely out of reach.

7. Realistic

You know yourself better than anyone so set goals that are realistic for you. This means reflecting on your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the capacity of your own abilities.

8. Timely

Goals need to be set within a time frame. This allows you to track your progress through your timeline, provides motivation to hit deadlines and allows the overarching goal to be broken up into achievable chunks.

9. Accountability

Accountability can come from the people around you if you decide to share your goals. Friends, family and colleagues can all help to motivate you and provide support to keep you on track.

However, if you’re keeping your goals and progress to yourself, internal accountability is also important. Recognising when you’re letting yourself slip and when you’re genuinely working towards your goals can often be difficult which is why it’s often helpful to have a third-party perspective.

10. Assess and review

As you move towards your goals you should be constantly assessing how you’re tracking and your progress. This is important in ensuring your goals remain relevant and that your drive to achieving them doesn’t dwindle.

What are your tips for achieving goals?

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