Goal setting is something that we hear about throughout our lives, but I have found that very few people actually sit down and articulate the things they want. Understanding the importance of goal setting and knowing how to set goals for yourself is crucial to accomplishing great things in your life.
Many people who come to my clinic feel as if they’re adrift in the world. They work hard, but they don’t seem to get where they want to be.
A basic reason that they feel this way is that they haven’t spent enough time thinking about what they want from life, and haven’t set themselves any specific goals. Let’s face it, would you set out on a major journey with no real idea of your destination? Probably not!
Despite the popularity of goal setting, there is evidence that regardless of good intentions and effort, people and organisations consistently fall short of achieving their goals. Setting goals isn’t something you should do because it’s a new year. Goals should be continuously created as you think of them and regularly revised if not after changes and other impactful moments.
Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality.Having a clear goal with a set date for accomplishment gives you something to plan and work for. A clear goal is an external representation of your inner desires; it is a constant reminder of what you want to accomplish. There is a very common pattern that comes with working towards goals that we are all familiar with – you set your mind to something, you get excited and work like mad, and then motivation starts to wane. The more ambitious and the more obscure the goal, the more drastic and difficult the changes will be. Most of us have big dreams that often seem impossible to accomplish. It’s easy to feel discouraged when you are staring at a massive, seemingly insurmountable mountain.Proper goal setting can help break larger, intimidating aspirations into smaller, more achievable stepping stones. Planning towards these smaller goals not only makes it easier to create a definite plan of action that we can start working on right away, but we also know that achieving smaller milestones provides real motivation and greater contentment. Having goals that you can focus on and visualise helps you better connect yourself with your inner desires, and gives you the motivational energy you need to work through periods where your focus inevitably starts to decrease. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You’ll also quickly spot the distractions that can, so easily, lead you astray.
Goal setting is used by people from all walks of life from top-level athletes to successful business-people and achievers in all fields. Setting specific goals gives you long-term vision coupled with short-term motivation. It focuses on your knowledge and helps you to organise your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life. By setting clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless routine.You will also raise your self-confidence, as you recognise your own ability and competence in achieving the goals that you’ve set.
How to set good goals?
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART acronym. While there are plenty of variants, SMART usually stands for:
- S – Specific (or Significant).
- M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
- A – Achievable (or Action-Oriented).
- R – Realistic (or Rewarding).
- T – Time frame (or Track-able).
Specific: Set a specific goal for yourself – general goals are too broad and focusing your energy on one thing is less difficult. For example, say that your goal is “to lose weight.” This is too general. It is not exact about how much weight you wanted to lose. Be specific!
Measurable: If you goal is not measurable how will you know when you have achieved it? Setting a goal that is measurable will help you to gauge your efforts and let you know if you are working hard enough. Sticking with our previous example, saying that you want to lose 5kg is both specific and measurable. The track to success will be clearer with a measurable goal.
Achievable: Dreaming is a wonderful characteristic about being human. However, when we wish and hope for a goal this only leads to the creation of goals that are often too unattainable for the majority of people. An example of this might be being a famous actor, or finishing the London marathon without adequate training. If you ask yourself the question: “Is this goal likely to be achieved if I stick to my plan of action?” and the answer is “no”, then you’re headed for failure and you should start over.
Realistic: The goals need to be in line with reality. If you have established a goal to lose 5kg in one week’s time, or to win X Factor by this Saturday, you may want to reconsider the direction your goal is taking you.
Time frame: Establish a clear amount of time that you are going to dedicate to your goals. Take time to think over how much time it will realistically take to achieve your goal. Very often people become frustrated and give in because they were too impatient. People often fail to reach their goals because they did not work often enough or long enough. Your success is worth the time!
Your goal must be self-initiated and self-maintained by you.
This is a time to be ‘selfish’! Your goal must benefit you directly before it benefits any other individual. If your goal will benefit other people, that’s great, however you must create this goal for you, it must benefit you directly first.
Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
When you’ve achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you’ve made towards other goals.
Setting goals can be challenging but it doesn’t have to be! Therapies such as Hypnotherapy or Counselling are invaluable in helping people reach their heartfelt aspirations and goals. Incorporating the above techniques will help to take the guess work out of the goal setting process. By creating goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time limited we may increase our chance of turning our goals into reality and enjoy the level success that we all deserve.
For more information on how Hypnotherapy or Counselling can help you achieve your goals, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Angela Winterton Dip.Hyp, MHS, GQHP,GHR reg., NRH, AdDip.CP,MCS Acc, Dip.SMC
Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist, Aspired Therapies