Setting working goals is considered one of the best ways to be more productive. It’s easy to make them, but often difficult to see them through. Today’s culture is filled with great task management software, and how tos for success. Here are a few of our steps to help you set goals, and make sure you stick with them!
Start with Deciding What You’d Like to Accomplish
When it comes to goal completion, the most basic and obvious task should be to create your goals. But, this may be a more in depth process than you realize. In order to lead yourself, it is important that you know yourself. Ask yourself, “what do I really want?”
The reality of goals is that you must desire it, and ensure that you are motivated to accomplish it, either out of demand, or desire.
Here are some specifications for setting goals:
- Don’t expect perfection, but make your goals based on your personal performance (to beat a personal time vs. to win the race)
- Be specific and to the point. Break them down into sub goals
- Make it challenging
- Prioritize and organize your goals
Don’t Forget the Details
Goals not only need to be attainable and desired, but they must be specific. Details are key for goals, because they ensure that you envision your desired outcome.
Setting goals that aren’t specific immediately reduces the chance that you will reach it. Why should you? You haven’t specified when you will reach it, or what the goal truly is.
Here are some examples that highlight how specific you need to be:
- A man decides that he wants to lose weight after Christmas, and writes it down. By mid-July, he weighs 10 pounds less, but feels that he has failed.
- A man makes a goal of losing 5 pounds a month till July. And writes down the exact diet and exercise routine that he will keep in order to ensure that he meets his goals. By mid-July he’s lost 30 lbs. Although he didn’t meet every goal, he has found great success along the way, and is driven to continue getting and staying in shape.
- A woman creates a goal to write a novel in 4 months. Her first month is very successful. She does extensive research on the time period and develops wonderful characters, and writes an extremely rough draft. But, life gets busy, so she sets it aside and takes a break. Three months later, the rough draft is still untouched.
- A woman decides that in order to write her novel in four months, she must create a rigorous and regimented schedule of writing and breaks. Each day she writes for 5 hours. She creates due dates for research, drafts, polishing, page numbers, and even speaking with publishers. Soon her habit forms, and the book gets written.
When you set goals, it’s easy to get excited and started with gusto, but maintaining stamina and motivation for them long term is much more difficult. That is why New Year’s resolutions usually die by February. Keeping your goals detailed and specific will help you maintain motivation for the long haul.
Make your Goals Challenging
A goal that is too challenging can de-motivate a person, and it is true that humans avoid discomfort, change, and difficulty. However, humans also thrive on challenges, and if motivated properly, will strive harder for a challenging goal.
Challenging goals help us to perform better. When we understand that a task is going to be difficult, we take it more seriously, train for it, prepare ourselves, and push harder to reach it.
If an employer gives a list of 5 tasks for an employee to perform in eight hours, they will likely get them done in eight hours.
But if an employer gives an employee a list of 10 tasks to perform in eight hours, they may get only eight or even ten of them done.
This example directly pertains to knowing and leading yourself. Understand how much is too much. Burning yourself out will accomplish nothing. However, when something is too easy, erase the goal and strive for something that takes more effort. You will find that you can accomplish more than you realized.
Give Yourself a Deadline
This is one of the most important rules in goal setting. A goal without a deadline is like a sentence without a period. When you add a deadline to a goal, it automatically adds a level of pressure and motivation that wasn’t there previously.
With a set deadline, the person setting the goal makes a mental handshake himself. Dates are a form of accountability and a key part of successful goal setting.
Break down Challenging goals into subtasks
In order to further specify and make your goals more specific, it is a great idea to break your goals into subtasks. Most task management software offer subtasks for you, but if you are just keeping track of your own on paper, it’s still a great habit to form.
Just as making tasks more specific makes them more tangible, creating subtasks allows the goal setter to take baby steps. Especially if you are making longer-term goals, it can be hard to only think in terms of the future. Planning subtasks or baby steps that you can accomplish each day, will help you move towards each goal.
Instead of trying to take one giant leap towards a difficult goal, try breaking it down. With subtasks you will be motivated and find satisfaction by seeing your goals get completed little by little.
Stay On Track
Accountability is another area of goal setting that will help to motivate. When you make a goal, it is up to you to hold yourself to the dates and tasks that you set. Honestly, we are not all strong enough to hold ourselves accountable.
If your goal is to quit smoking cigarettes, the addiction may overwhelm your good intentions. Often times, having a friend or advisor to keep you accountable is a wise decision.
The next time you create a goal, tell it to friends, or your trusted advisors. The act of simply speaking it to another can help cement it in your mind. With a friend to keep you on track and question your accomplishments, you’ll be more likely to keep yourself on track.
When you’ve accomplished a goal, don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate it. Giving yourself a pat on the back for the things to which you’ve set your mind will encourage your successful behavior. Anniversary’s and graduations are the most common examples of this. Small or large rewards and celebrations are appropriate for a job well done.
So whether you’ve been smoke free since 93, or your startup made it’s first million dollars, celebrate the goals that you’ve made and checked off.