The thing about New Year’s Resolutions (aside from hardly ever working) is that they are generally not well thought out; they are predominantly quite short term and usually non committal.
Give up smoking (or at least cut down). Same with alcohol. Look for a new job (because you want some more money), get fit, travel more, be a better person; those types of things. The fact is, the list is usually longer than they last and if the resolutions aren’t blown by January 1st, on the whole they don’t last through to February. There are many reasons why resolutions are not stuck to (or given the resolve their name imparts), but the main thing is that they are not goals, they are aims. More ideals than actual real and true targets – they lack conviction and grit.
What are Goals?
Goals are a different kettle of fish altogether. Taking away sports definitions and analogies, fundamentally, goals are long term aims that you want to accomplish. They can be slightly vague (in comparison to objectives), but when used correctly they have the ability to not only steer you in a particular direction, but to shape the entire way you think and make decisions.
Why set goals?
Think of yourself as a project, the most important and most complex project you will ever work on. Without an outcome in mind (whether it’s clear and precise or even sketchy and vague), the project (being you) is destined to have no measure of success or failure – it just is. Now many of you will be fine with that, and if that is the case, you’re not right or wrong, you’re just you. Feel free to turn to the gadget or Manmade section. Goodbye and good luck. But of the others….
What makes a good personal goal?
First and foremost, a good goal should bring you joy and happiness. The mere thought of achieving the goal should lift your spirits and make you smile. It should also stand up to being challenged (specifically by yourself) to test its validity (again to yourself). It should be a stretch to you, but also achievable. It should be uncomplicated and finally it should be yours – it should fit you perfectly. They need planning, they need to be well thought out and a host of other things but we’ll get to that next. In the meantime, be safe in the knowledge that goals and specifically YOUR goals should excite YOU.
Here are some ways to turn your half hearted resolutions into meaty meaningful goals:
Goal setting Techniques
Just as the there are many project setting techniques, there are many ways to set and ultimately achieve your goals. However, the one thing that seems to have popped up a lot when researching this article was to make your goals SMART – Specific or Significant, Measurable or Meaningful, Attainable, Relevant or Rewarding and Trackable. So, we assume this is important and try to use it when you can.
We have taken the best of the techniques and worked it into an 8-step process that should get you to where you want to be in life.
Set the mood – This process is going to take a while and needs your full attention. So find somewhere either neutral or quiet and comfortable. Somewhere without distractions and somewhere that you can spend some uninterrupted time at. It doesn’t need to be done all at once (maybe break the project down into segments), but as it is ALL about you. Make sure you give yourself the time and space to focus.
Who are you? Let’s get to know a little bit more about you, the real you.
Your first goal is going to be making a list of goals and what will help in this (and in fact the entire process) is having a clear insight as to how you work. Often we learn our goals and accomplishment methods from school – think learning for grades or passing exams. But although the methods that are taught at school cover the masses, there are still a fair amount of people that work in ways that differ from this completely. How do you complete tasks, assignments, projects? Have a think back to ANYTHING notable you have achieved in the past. How did you do it? What steps did you take to achieve the result? Rest assured, there will be a method there and you may or may not be aware of it but take the time to explore this – it will really help in the long run.
Document your Goals – you should end up with a reasonable list of goals and later a reasonable list of tasks; so a big question will be where to keep them? Some people have allegedly got photographic memories; they can recall telephone numbers, names, places and events all down to the most microscopic of details, so thinking and remembering their goals in their head may just work for them. However, most of us need to write them down in a journal or on a board or in their phone or tablet.
Wherever it is, make sure it’s accessible – a goal list that is hidden away is almost as bad as no list at all.
Tell YOU what YOU want – what you really, really want.
I believe that this is probably the most important part of the process and it’s one of the parts that people give the least attention. What do you want and more importantly WHY? This is the time to go off and have a quiet moment with yourself and to be as honest as you really can. It’s easy to reel off a list of goals; be incredibly wealthy, retirement, have a great job (or no job at all), have a perfect family, travel the world, have a six pack, play for the All Blacks. But depending on what stage you’re at, the goals I’ve just listed could be beyond reality. For example, regardless of the desire, a 50 year old, unfit smoker will probably struggle to get selected by Steve Hansen. But the BIG question you have to ask yourself is WHY is this goal important? This question will give you a greater insight into the substance behind the goal – and not just your own abridged wish list of everyone else’s.
Types of Goals
Goals come in all shapes and sizes; long or short term, emotional or financial and even life changing (your own or someone else’s). But one thing is for sure, without them you will quite simply aimlessly lollop through your life. Make sure your goals are as much in your control as possible – you don’t want any of them to be dependent on something beyond your control (as best you can). For example, a goal of yours could be to have a loving wife and family. Unfortunately, at least 50% of this goal requires input from another party; you can’t make someone love you – not legally anyway.
Here is a very important thing to note: Your goals can be as many or as few as you choose. There is one school of thought that by only having a handful of goals means that you are more focused and therefore they are more achievable. Then there are others that believe that having a list of over a hundred items means that your mind is open and creative and that anything is possible. This isn’t something that you will probably consciously need to decide. If you take your time and focus on what you really want, or the possibilities that life can offer you, the list should settle on the size that’s right for you. Write about yourself, imagine the future: what does it look like? What part do you play? What do you look like in it? How will people view you? These are just a few starter questions.
When setting goals:
Avoid negative statements – You have an inbuilt ability to ignore negativity. This may sound strange or at least implausible, but your subconscious will always look on the bright side when it comes to goal setting. If creating a better income for yourself is in your goal line up, writing down ‘I don’t want to work for minimum wage anymore’ isn’t your best choice of phrases. Try something like ‘My goal is to be promoted within the next 12 months’.
Avoid necessities when goal setting – Goals should be motivational and ideally fun. After all, they are about change for the better or for the good aren’t they? So when goal setting, try to keep away from ‘must’ or ‘have to’ phrases, even try to avoid this in the planning stage of goal achievement.
Categorize or subdivide your goals
These are the big one’s, they are the main event, the ultimate goal. These are a bit tricky (again depending on what stage of life you are at) because as you mature, your long term goals have a habit of changing. What was important to you in your teens or twenties are either less or more so when you get to a mid-life timeline. However, they are still the main catalyst of all of this. They are the Capstone Projects so don’t take them lightly. They should all be very personal, of course, but starting with the basics is a way to ease into your Long Term Goal identification. Look at things like health, wealth, family and friends. But also take a look at your professional side, career and education. Then there are your hobbies and interests. Explore your artistic side and the things that give you pleasure. And finally how about taking a look at your attitude and things you can do to make the world a better place. Public Service – the feel good factor.
These can be either stepping stones towards the ultimate goal/s or simply sub goals that keep you motivated on life’s path. They can be foundational, something solid to fall back on or even to start from. They can also be provisional, such as smaller more easily achievable goals – i.e. drop 3kg’s in 3 months or to save $2,000 in a year.
These are the goals that enable you to achieve your short or long term goals. For example, the goal of putting away $50 a week – to end up saving your short term goal $2,000 in a year.
These are the goals that literally crossover any of the above. Take for example health and as a subsection mental health. To stay mentally fit, you need to keep the brain moving, so you can set a crossover goal of doing the crossword every day. This goal can also help with relaxation or hobbies. It’s a basic example but I think you can get the point.
LONG TERM Goal Prioritizing
Basically ranking your long term goals in terms of most to least important. Depending on how big your list is, this may take a while and of course will take up more of your brain matter. What you are looking for of course is THE MOST IMPORTANT GOAL. This doesn’t mean that your other goals are not important, they should just take a slight back seat to number 1.
Time to pause a bit and take stock of what you have achieved. By now, you should have a clearer understanding of what you are aiming for (both long and short term – the latter being less important right now). Hopefully it’s a long list of goals, with luck they paint the picture of an ideal you. They should fill you with warmth and make you smile, because after all you ARE a superstar in the making. Feeling good?
So let’s get back to it.
Keep your goals safe, but keep them accessible.
Your list of goals should be out in a place where you keep your valuables, after all they are VERY important. But locking them away in a safe or some other restricted place means that you won’t refer to them very often. Keep them safe but keep them close.
To share or not to share – motivation
Sharing your goals – Some people are motivated by sharing their goals, both long and short term, with friends, family, social media, even their dog. If this is what truly gets you moving, then go right ahead but no-one is going to give you the core drive you need to achieve you real long term goals. It’s not that they are bad friends, it’s that they really don’t have the time or in the end the inclination to be with you EVERY step of the way. Don’t believe me? Over the years, how many of your friends have shared their LONG TERM dreams or goals with you – have you done anything to help? You could choose to hire the services of a professional, they are out there but please bear in mind, your goals are YOURS. Other people may benefit from your success, or even share in your failures but the reality is only you will be able to mentally motivate yourself and stay on the path to success. If you really lack the motivation, maybe the goal isn’t strong enough. Head back to Step 1 and have another look.
Research and Planning
You already have them prioritized, now it is time to split them up so you can work on them individually. Having them separated will help bring focus.
Take a look at your first one. This is the one you have deemed the most important goal, the number one priority in your life. This goal will shape you and your future and it will have a great bearing on everything you do from now on – or at least it should. So best you give it due consideration and attention.
It’s an end game goal, so I would recommend you look at it from both directions – working towards and working back from. If you take the latter first, it will help with the planning and preparation. A good way to work on this is via a flow chart (look one up if you are unfamiliar).
Let’s take a basic and relatively common goal to start with and add in a few assumptions as an example.
Goal: you want to be healthy. Not necessarily 0% body fat, but certainly you want to be trim and live a healthy life. You are in your twenties, have an aptitude for sports, and like to run.
Write healthy inside a big circle top of the page. Your Sub Goal could be to be a run in a major world marathon once a year – write ‘Marathon’ underneath with a connected line. You may want to mix this up in terms of destination, say London, New York, etc – write the country names under ‘Marathon’ with connecting lines. Research more and prioritise: dates and times for each marathon and application process (some have a waiting list that is years long). Next steps below this would be training and nutrition, each with their own place on the chart and each with their own direct line connection to other parts of the goal. As you can see, there is a process involved here and a timeline and research – lots of it. The more research and time you put in, the more real and definitive the goal.
This flowchart approach will allow you to look at the goal from the top down or the bottom up.You can also add in or remove steps as they become clearer.
Famous Goal Keepers
Yeah yeah, NO. Not the sporting kind, the successful kind. Ok, that’s unfair, you’re right. Here’s Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan was left off his varsity basketball team due to his height. Whenever he felt himself slowing down while working out, he’d visualise that list that didn’t have his name on it.
When Jim Carrey was young, he wrote himself a fake cheque for $10,000,000 for “acting services rendered” dated for 1995. In 1994 Dumb and Dumber released and he got to cash in the real deal.
Sometimes not giving up is enough. Henry Ford had two businesses that resulted in bankruptcy before he changed the world with the ASsembly Line and Ford Motor Company.
Time to get to work on your goals – let’s get this show on the road.
With all your individualised goals laid out (and written down or flowcharted), it’s time to get started. This is probably the easiest part of the whole process. You have your goals and they not only inspire you, just thinking of them makes you happy. You have researched and planned them out, so this is just a simple case of working the plans from the bottom up. Remember to stick to the priority list. Human nature would mean that you will try to start with the easiest ones first, but keep in mind anything less than your number one goal will give you less success and fulfillment once completed.
The journey – As we keep saying, this is all about you and with all things being equal, you will have a long and illustrious life, full of its fair share of ups and downs but the big thing to underline is long term. Your long term goals are just that; long term, so no need to rush them. You have a plan and it has a timeline but as with many trips, the journey is often as good as the destination. Make sure you take the time to stop and smell the sweet scent of your successes along the way.
Track your progress – since you have taken the time to add in some timelines and each goal has steps towards achievement, keep an eye on how you are progressing. Measure against where you should be at key moments – birthdays, holidays, New Years, changes of season, whenever suits. Try to ensure you keep on heading towards the end game or in the least, moving. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have drifted off course a little. By tracking your progress, you will have the information you need to decide to keep heading in the same direction or to make adjustments.
Reward yourself – not just at the end (as achieving your goal should be reward itself), but do it along the way to keep you motivated. Just make sure that the treat isn’t counter-productive, i.e. if weight loss is your goal, although a cream filled donut may be exactly what you want, maybe a new (skinnier) shirt would be better.
Set backs – along the way there are bound to be a variety of setbacks, road blocks and maybe even goal killers. For example, kids. Yeah, yeah, I agree. They are a true reason for our existence, BUT they also have the ability to suck up your time and money and therefore have the ability to set your goals back for a certain period of time. Then there are the goal killers, things like disabilities, illness and death (of course if it’s you, but close family or friends take time to overcome too). But beware of one of the biggest goal killers of all: de-motivation. It can creep up on you and kill your goals stone dead.
Revisit Your Goals – often. Times change, people change, you change and therefore so can your goals. By revisiting them as often as you can (without becoming obsessed) you are able to keep them current.
Re-evaluate – Are they still what you want? If the number one goal you are working towards becomes the thing that you least desire, then the entire YOU project is destined for failure. Things that seemed so very important to me when I was younger are virtually invisible to me now. Make sure your long term goals are still what you want.
Reprioritise – Your goals may still be on the button, but numerically they are off kilter. By re-visiting and re-evaluating, you may discover that the order of priority has changed. Hard to give you an example, but you will know it when you see it.
Vizualisation – It’s not all hairy fairy bullcrap; visualising your goals can be motivational. If owning a sports car is amongst your list of goals, why not take a moment to make it feel a bit more real. Think of it parked on your driveway. What colour is it? What about the interior? Where would you drive it? Who would be beside you? Essentially, you are mentally writing it down; you are beginning to make an internal commitment to your goal.
Stick with it – good old try and try again. When you began this journey, the things you put down about what you wanted should remain true throughout – especially if you have re-visited them along the way. So although life has its own uniquely beautiful way of throwing countless amounts of negativity, setbacks and general crap in your direction – stick to your guns and stay true to your inner goals – you’ll get the life and results you deserve.
Success or Failure
It’s your life and therefore it’s your rules. You and only you will be able to decide if your goals have been achieved or lost and to what degree. It’s a long journey and things can change along the way. Good luck with your goals and we at M2 hope this piece goes someway to helping you get all that you want.