“You have to set goals that are almost out of reach. If you set a goal that is attainable without much work or thought, you are stuck with something below your true talent and potential.” – Steve Garvey
We set and achieve goals every day, believe it or not. Often, we set and reach goals without even thinking about it! For example, goals can be as everyday as, ‘I am going to clean the bathroom today’; something you may not label as a goal, but, none the less, it is something you have set for yourself and achieved. On the other hand, goals can be much larger; a professional goal such as a desired promotion is a good example of this. Larger examples of the personal might include things such as fitness goals (‘I want to be able to run 5 kilometres by the end of the year’) or skill based targets (‘I want to learn to cook this year’). Whatever the size of your goals, they are all equally important, and vital to an overall sense of personal wellbeing.
Why Set Goals?
1. It Feels Good
Hitting a target feels good. Goal setting is one of the core elements of overall happiness. This is because the goals we set are usually based on our personal values; values we feel very passionately about. Big goals are often referred to as ‘purpose’; an idea that is bigger than ourselves and the daily grind. Reaching the summit of these goals feels amazing.
“Along with positive emotion, relationships, engagement, and accomplishment (which goals allow for), it makes up what we’ve come to known as ‘The Good Life’” – Catherine Moore
2. Opportunity for Self Reflection
Self-reflection rarely happens passively. The endeavour towards a personal goal requires us to focus on the self; to appreciate and utilise our strengths as well as scrutinising, accepting and working towards improving our weaknesses.
3. Consciously Moving Forward
Goal setting helps us to accelerate our personal growth. We are always moving forward, and we do mature and grow organically. However, this passive growth can mean that One never quite reaches One’s potential. Conscious goal setting, and working consciously towards achieving those goals is important for stretching yourself, and fine-tuning your life.
Setting Your Goals…
1. Aim High, But Not Too High
In order to ensure that you are stretched, the goals that you set should be just out of your reach. This is for a number of reasons. First of all, the reaching of an easily attainable goal is no real achievement at all, and doesn’t really help to expand and develop you as a person. Therefore, the second reason is that it helps to stretch you a little bit; with every goal reached, you will grow a little more and when you look back, you may be amazed at how far you have come.
However, be careful not to reach too far. Overstretching in your expectations of what you can achieve often leads to disappointment as you inevitably miss the target. Growth is incremental.
2. Make Your Goals Specific
A very specific goal helps to focus the journey towards it. For example, a goal such as, ‘I am going to swim more’, for example, is too vague. A goal like this makes it easy for you to make excuses for yourself. It also means that you have no specific barometer as to whether you have achieved it or not; robbing you of both the moment of achievement and real growth. A goal like, ‘I am going to be able to swim 1 kilometre in under 40 minutes by the end of the year’ is a much more specific and focused goal; much easier to work towards and to keep track of.
3. Set Your Own Goals
Your goals must be important to you. So, don’t let others dictate what success should look like to you, or what you should be shooting for. For you to be happy, and for you to want to commit to reaching your targets, you must be working towards something you actually want.
Meeting Your Goals…
It helps to promise yourself a great pay off when you reach the goal. It could be a glass of wine, or it could be a holiday. It helps to reward yourself for your achievements.
2. One Brick At A Time
When I have something large to achieve this is something I have to remind myself of, especially when it is something that is going to take a long time to work towards. ‘One brick at a time’, I say. If you want to build a house, you cannot build it in one go; buy it off the shelf and dump it on the plot. If you want to build a house you have to do it brick by brick, you will have tricky moments, have to compromise along the way, the house may not even look as you imagines in the end… but you will still have built something amazing.
Set a time cap on your goal. This helps to ensure that you are consistently working towards your target, and that it doesn’t take forever. If you do max out on your time restriction, no bother, you can always extend. But, you should always be putting a little pressure on yourself in order to push past your current limits.
By Chris Thomson
Working towards your goals is not always easy. There will undoubtedly be days where you will need an extra dose of motivation: Workplace Wellbeing: Techniques for Workplace Motivation
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