Wednesday 22 July 2009

How to Set Goals Effectively

"A goal properly set is halfway reached." Zig Ziglar

Clear goals contain the power to motivate and energise us into action. Yet so often we start out on the quest for self-improvement, either personally or professionally with no real concept of where we want to be or exactly what it is we want.

We may have some vague concept in mind, such as increasing income or productivity but this is rarely translated into specific goals. Without a clear goal in mind, it becomes increasingly likely that we may unwittingly focus our well intended energy in the wrong direction.

When we are unsure of where we are heading it becomes very easy to work hard yet accomplish little. With a clear goal in sight, we can ensure that our actions continually contribute to its achievement.

Without goals you are drifting and when you drift you are not in control. If you are not in control, then someone else is. Then you have relinquished the basic right to be master of your own destiny. In doing this you also surrender your freedom of action which restricts your choices and can lead to frustration, anxiety, fear and stress.

The benefits of goal setting are numerous. Individuals who set effective goals:

suffer less stress and anxiety;
have better concentration;
show increased self confidence;
perform better;
are happier with their performance.

Goal setting also:

keeps you focussed;
provides clarity and direction;
increases determination, patience and persistence;
builds self-esteem when goals are met;
ensures you remain proactive in your life, rather than reactive.
The seeds of achievement are found in the process of goal setting. If your goals are incorrectly set, then the probability of a successful outcome are severely diminished.

When setting your goals ensure you subject each goal to the SMART but PURE test.

Goals must be SMART:

Specific - Is your goals well-defined? Your goal must be clear and concise. Avoid setting unclear or vague objectives.
Measurable - Be clear how you will recognise when you have achieved your goal. A hint is to use numbers and dates where possible.
Attainable - Don't set yourself up for failure. Setting yourself goals that you cannot possibly achieve will only end in disappointment. Make your goals challenging, but realistic.
Relevant - Try and step back and get an overview of all different areas of your life. Consider how relevant your goals are to the overall picture.
Time-framed - Set a time frame for the completion of each goal. Even if you have to review your time frame as you progress, it will assist you to stay motivated.


Positively stated

Most of these are self-evident and require no further elaboration; however a couple of observations must be made. If a goal is not realistic, there is no hope, but if it is not challenging, there is no motivation.

It is very important to state goals in the positive. If I say to you 'Don't think of a blue balloon' - what do you think about - a blue balloon. If goals are stated in the negative - you will focus on the negative.

ACTIVITY - Take a piece of paper now and make a list of 5 professional goals you would like to accomplish in the next year. Write your goals as though they have already been achieved. For example: "I earn X euro per year" OR "I drive such and such a car".

Read over your list of goals and select the one that, if achieved would have the greatest positive impact on your life.

Circle the goal clearly.

Below is a seven step process for effective goal setting. By following these seven steps, you can maximise your ability to accomplish your goals. You may notice that the activity you have just completed has worked through steps one and two of this process. You may like to spend more time on this activity in your own time.

This is a crucial first step. It is vital that your goal aligns with where you want to go and exactly what you want to achieve.

1 Decide exactly what you want
2 Write it down
3 Set a deadline
4 Make a list of everything you have to do to achieve that goal
5 Organise that list into a plan
6 Take action immediately
7 Resolve to do something everyday that progresses you toward your goal
(Brian Tracy, 2004)

The next step, step three is to set a final deadline for your goal.

Source: adapted from

No comments: