“Stop setting goals. Goals are a fantasy unless you have specific plans to achieve them”- Stephen R. Covey.
Words by this topmost American management expert and motivational speaker aptly describe why people fail to achieve their goals. Indubitably, most of us go about our lives waiting for things to happen by natural course.
Instead, we can fare far better in life should we have a realistic and achievable plan for our goals.
Paradox of goals
Ironically, as students, we had specific goals. Scoring high at exams, excelling in sports, making new friends, developing a hobby were some goals we cherished as kids. Nobody needed to tell us what goals to set and how to achieve goals.
It was spontaneous and we were successful to great extent. A lot of us would have been through immeasurable suffering caused by lack of money and resources, inadequate parental support or poor health during these formative years.
However, we did achieve these goals to great extent, save for minor deviations from the stated objective.
Sadly, this verve appears to abate as we grow older. Naturally, growing up comes with shipload of inherent vagaries. For most people, goals get relegated to the backseat upon finding great jobs.
Shockingly, nobody taught us the importance of goal setting or about having goals in life. Hence, we are blank on how to achieve goals.
Naturally, we are happy to work for a reputed organization and embark on a long career. But does this satisfy our goals in life?
Noted Greek philosopher Epicurus once said, the ultimate goal in life of every human being is to be happy.
The danger zone
Unfortunately, here lies the danger zone. Happy over job, career prospects and assurance of promotions coupled with financial wellbeing sounds the death knell of our future goals.
Future looks stable and secure. Content, we slip into mundane routine. We pride in mundane achievements including marriage, parenthood, buying home and attaining some degree of respect in the society. Despite,we neglect the importance of goal setting.
Goal Setting Theory
Reading books written by these eminent writers will give you great insights into the theory of goal setting.
Top 5 goal killers
These are the five topmost enemies of your goals
1.Comfort zone/ complacence
By far, complacence is the single-most killer of our goals. Complacence comes from that false sense of achievement. It deceives us into wrongly believing we have done our best.
Complacence destroys our competitive edge.
It is the archenemy of growth and pernicious for self developments. It deceptively guides us into thick walled comfort zone from where escape can be difficult.
Hence, if you have already slipped into this hideous quagmire of complacence, it is high time you rethink your life and future.
2. Self doubt
Sadly, self doubt and lack of confidence are the second stumbling block to attaining our goals. Surely, you may encounter doubts over various issues.
These apprehensions can arise from various things.
Financial status, family situations, insufficient experience at work or skills or sometimes, the mere thought of upsetting the apple cart created by complacency, serve to spur self doubt.
Such self doubts or diffidence can be eliminated by a simple process. Firstly, take accurate stock of where you stand. Secondly, cast away unnecessary worries.
Merely worrying will not eliminate money or family problems. Further, lack of skills can always be obliterated by training and practice.
Upsetting the applecart in favor of uncertain, ambition-fuelled future can be a daunting thought. Eliminate self doubt by beginning to take calculated risks.
3. Lack of motivation
Invariably, all of us experience drop in motivation during different phases of life.
Lack of external stimulus such as feeling unappreciated at home or work, less disposable income due to debt burden and inability to counter chronic problems or illness for any reason are main culprits.
However, you can overcome these easily by learning to pat yourself on the back. Reschedule repayments if you are encumbered by debts to enjoy the stuff you want.
Further, you can seek help from medical or psychiatry professionals to eliminate any chronic problems.
4. Inability to define goals
Frankly, how many goals have you set yourself other than casual New Year Resolutions? In all probability, the answer would be zero. Further, if you did set goals, some were abandoned midway due to plethora of reasons.
To attain goals, you need to define what you want.
Admittedly, it is very difficult to define goals. Broadly, we all want to be rich, happy and secure. However, we do not know how to do so.
5. Absence of well defined plans
Failing to plan is planning to fail, runs an old axiom. Rightly so, most of us have only nebulous or obscure ideas about how we plan to attain our goals.
For example, you may wish to become rich quickly. At the same time, you would not know how to get rich, the time span and resources you require.
Therefore, planning to achieve your goals is of prime importance. Remember, without a plan, you cannot get anywhere.
10 Steps for Goal Setting & Achieving
Below we provide some tips on how to effectively set goals and how to achieve them.
Step-1: Take your own inventory
Now this is something most people will shy away from. Most likely, you will have a great perception about yourself. This is insufficient at best. Taking your own inventory helps set life goals and shows how to achieve goals.
Instead, you need to take a complete inventory about yourself. This includes your education and skills, finances, family, good and bad traits in your personality, present situation and just about every sphere of your life.
There are three known techniques for self assessment.
- SWOT Analysis (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
- Johari Window
- 4th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step recovery program
Step-2: Identify your goals
Once again, this can prove cumbersome for many. However, there is no need to worry. Broadly, you can define your goals under the following heads:
Career goals: About the post or position you wish to attain with your education and skills.
Financial goals: How rich do you wish to get within a set time spans. Also include plans for investments and generating additional income.
Personal goals: Deals more with personal life such as your marriage, having kids, buying house and other issues vital to your wellbeing.
Social goals: Define the status you wish to achieve in your society or community. Basically, it means defining reasons for which others should recognize you.
Spiritual or moral goals: This has nothing to do with gods and deities. It simply means your goals to become a better member of the community by eliminating vices or bad habits. Using abusive words is frowned upon and getting rid of the habit can also become a moral goal, for example. Remember, this is also an important goal in life.
Step-3: Prioritize priorities
Understandably, you wish to do a lot of things. We all do. There is nothing wrong with that. However, you have only 24 hours a day. Therefore, whatever you wish to do has to be confined within this limited time.
Time limitation is a great damper for goals. People cannot achieve certain goals because they provide too little time for getting there.
However, you can sort your priorities. Meaning, make random list of things you wish to do. Next, sort out what you wish to achieve according to their importance. Sort out you goals as
Short term goals: Ideally achievable within six months to a year.
Mid-term goals: Those you wish to attain within a couple of years from now.
Long-term goals: Everything you want to have in the next two to five years.
Distant goals: These are very long term goals such as owning a home. The process can take as long as 20 years, if you take mortgage or housing finance from lenders.
Step-4: Feet planted on ground
Remember, the cardinal trick is to ensure you prioritize goals according to your existing abilities and resources. Most people fail because they base goals on anticipations, projected gains and vague possibilities.
Letting your imagination fly occasionally is great. It helps explore new horizons. However, basing your goals on some vague future possibilities can be suicidal.
Moreover, you may end up wasting precious time, money and other resources in pursuit of a mirage.
Step-5: Write it down
This is yet another area where most of us fail quite miserably. Remember, goals are very easy to forget. Making plans mentally and implementing them daily are vastly different things.
Hence, the best way to sort this glitch is by writing down your goals. You could write them on paper or your computer. Regardless, you need to read them daily to remind yourself. The process serves as some form of autosuggestion.
Frankly speaking, writing your goals on a notebook is preferable. The very process of writing serves as a reminder. Also, you can tuck away the book in a safe place, away from prying eyes.
Hence, nobody can derail your plans.
Step-6: Appoint a referee
Perhaps this sounds ridiculous. Yet, it is very important to have someone like a parent or mentor act as referee or independent judge for your goals.
Their perception about you will definitely vary from your own. Further, age and experience gives them some advantage.
This referee serves to assess your goals and if required, provide some guidance that may help redefine them. Often, such judges can offer insights that you miss.
Further, you will also need independent assessment of the progress you made to achieve your goals.
Step-7: Make a timetable
As we see earlier, there is only so much you can do within a day, week, month or year. Regardless of whatever your goals, you need to assess them periodically.
Several factors around you can change after you have set your goals. These external factors can include political scenarios, new laws, better technology, money related issues, health and umpteen others.
Therefore, draw a timetable for assessing your progress. Surely, you will find that progress has been faster on reaching some goals and slower in others.
Moreover, you might not make any headway in attaining some goals. Thus, having a timetable for assessment helps you know where you have reached and what you need to do further.
Step-8: Review your progress
Undisputedly, this is a key element in goal setting. You need to review your skills as said earlier. Further, you need to be objective in these assessments. Meaning, you need to find out why your progress towards certain goals was speedy while it was retarded for others.
The review done by your referee and self will help identify gray areas. You can easily eliminate those. Simultaneously, you can derive greater advantage from your strong areas and reach goals faster.
Remember, these reviews are only for your assessment and guidance. Therefore, failure or slow progress should not make you abandon a great goal.
Step-9: Motivate yourself daily
Obviously, the biggest beneficiary of these goals is your family and yourself. Remind yourself of the rich rewards you will reap upon achieving your goals.
This should serve as sufficient motivation to work towards their realization.
Often, remaining motivated can be difficult. Small setbacks can upset you immensely. At such times, you can revert to your appointed referee for mentoring.
Also remember why you embarked on the endeavor in the first place. Backing off is easy when undergoing motivation blues. Hanging on can be difficult but will prove to be the best decision you ever made.
Step-10: Erase and rewind
No, we do not speak about that popular eponymous pop song. Simply put, erase and rewind means, eliminate goals that seem absolutely unattainable.
Surely, you will find some goals which just cannot be reached despite your best efforts. Therefore, it is best to eliminate them rather than waste resources further. That means erase.
Rewind means, set up newer goals to replace those you just eliminated. It may take your life back a few months. However, your new goals will definitely be worth it. Your failures expose loopholes. You can effectively plug these and re-launch on another, superior goal.
Enjoy the journey
Fortunately, countless books authored by scores of motivational speakers, management gurus and successful personalities are available online.
These books help you develop myriad, desirable skills, provide motivation, carry success stories and encouraging words. Investing a small amount on these books will prove worthwhile.
Remember, aiming for dream goals should be pleasurable. You can enjoy this journey to success by adding some enjoyable moments with family and friends daily.
Never remain tense over your stated objectives and goals. Instead, look upon them as excellent opportunities for self growth.