Much has been written on goal setting. Webinars, podcasts, posts, and infographics on goal setting totaling gazillions of bytes have been put up on the web. Yet, people still fail to realize their most cherished goals. People still flounder along the way and eventually give up on their goals.
The strongest of intentions and the hardest of work fail to take you where you want to be if you don’t set your goals right. That’s because a goal is a destination that you want to reach in one area of your life, such as your work, family, vocation, or spirituality. So before jumping into the goal-getting frenzy, you would want to make sure that you are aiming in the right direction.
There are several tried-and-tested, well-documented strategies for goal setting. But start by creating a habit of meditating. Unknown to many, meditation aids goal setting by helping you figure out who you are.
Why Bother Setting Goals
When you set goals, you get results. Period.
Setting goals keeps you focused and helps you channel your energies in the right direction. When you know what you want, you can formulate targeted strategies that optimize your efforts and help you fulfill your dreams faster. Setting goals make you more productive.
Your goals fuel your dreams. When you set goals, you have in your mind a picture of the future that you have shaped for yourself. These are powerful mental images that keep you focused on the task at hand and make you more perseverant.
When you set goals, you send all the right vibes out into the world, especially to the people who matter for your success. Setting goals marks you as a person who means business and is serious about getting things done. So, you attract collaborators and supporters who help you reach your goals.
Goal setting is much more than nurturing a fond dream or wishing upon a star. It is the blueprint of your success, so make sure that you nail it right. Read on to find out how to set goals, so you never fail to realize them.
Goal-Setting Strategies That Set You Up for Success
Goal-setting strategies are mostly about how to frame your goals, so you are inspired by them. Using the strategies outlined below, you can set goals that gear you up for success.
The SMART Method
The SMART method is the most well-known of all goal-setting strategies and one that is taught in management classes all over the world. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
You need a plan to succeed. You can formulate a plan only if you have specific and targeted goals in mind. Specific goals bring in more positive results than I-will-do-my-best goals or having no goals at all.
When you are specific about what you want, you can create targeted strategies. When you know exactly where you want to go or what you want to have, you are motivated to go the extra mile. Specific goals keep you from scattering your energies and resources.
Numbers add to the specificity to your goals. When there are numbers to reach (the dollar value of profits you want to earn or the weight in kilograms you want to be), you can create focused plans and pace your efforts and allocate resources accordingly.
Additionally, measurable goals help you evaluate your progress and tweak your plans, if need be.
Set goals that you can achieve, with some bit of effort on your part. Your goals should be challenging, so they fire you. You may set goals that yank you out of your comfort zone, just to gauge how much you can achieve. Difficult goals raise the bar on your performance, and most people improve their skills when they push themselves. But ensure that your goals do not exceed your abilities.
Unrealistic goals are not founded on your abilities, skill level, and the resources you have at your disposal. You are bound to falter along the way and fall behind if you chase impossible goals. Then frustration sets in, and you lose the motivation to pursue your goals.
We are mature, intelligent beings. We do not fall for fantasies. So here’s what else happens when you set unrealistic goals. Even if you convince yourself that you can move mountains, some part of you always knows that you are chasing pie-in-the-sky dreams. Your subconscious mind is not convinced that you can reach the goals you have set for yourself, and your lack of conviction is apparent to those you work or want to collaborate with. They, in turn, hesitate to team up with you.
Setting deadlines gets you to your goals in time. When you stare at dates, there is a sense of urgency. Your mind yanks you out of slackness and drives you to go the extra mile to complete the work on time.
Ensure that you set timelines so that you can stop and smell the roses along the way. Getting to your goals needn’t seem like a punishment.
The HARD Method
Mark Murphy, in his book Hundred Percenters, outlined the principles of the HARD method—Heartfelt, Animated, Required, Difficult.
You want to be inspired by your goals. Reaching for your goals shouldn’t feel like a chore; rather you want to revel in every step of the journey you take towards your goals. To put it bluntly, you want to feel “good” going for your goals. And here’s how.
Set goals that resonate with your core values. Figure out those goals that inspire you, so reaching for them makes life more meaningful. Your goals should map with your highest priorities in life, so going the extra mile feels effortless.
Practicing meditation is an effective way to know yourself, so you can set goals that resonate with you.
Feel excited about your goals. See yourself feeling on top of the world after you reach your goals. Envision all the good things that will happen to you when you fulfill your goals. Conjuring these visions should be easy if you have set for yourself goals that resonate with your soul, but you have to hold on to these positive mental images.
We all love passionate people. We are inspired by people who love what they are doing, and we want to join hands with them. When you are excited about your goals, your excitement rubs off on other people, and they want to collaborate with you. You attract clients, supporters, work, and business.
You require a strong sense of urgency and believe in the necessity of your goals.
You may cringe at this, but it is true that deadlines are powerful motivators. With all the distractions in life, it is easy to have your plans sidelined and thrust to the backburner. Setting up timelines keeps you on your toes and on track.
You have to also believe in what you are doing and know in your heart that your work makes a difference in the world. This belief will help you get up, pick up the pieces, and move on, if you stumble or fall.
Edwin Locke is regarded as a pioneer in the fields of motivation and leadership. He carried out a study on over 40,000 people from all over the world for about 25 years. His conclusion: specific and challenging goals bring on higher performance than easier goals.
As intelligent beings, we are stimulated by challenges. Challenges whet our curiosity, and we want to take them on, head on, to find out if we have it in us to rise above them. Besides, challenging goals keep us from lazing around or becoming complacent.
Write down your goals. The mere action of putting pen to paper transports your goals from a fuzzy, ethereal realm to a tangible plane where your inked words take on a life of their own. You can no longer ignore the goals you have written down, and you feel compelled to make them happen. This is the “endowment effect” in action.
According to the “endowment effect,” just dreaming up a goal makes you feel as if you own it. The goal becomes a part of you, and you want to hold on and never give up on it. Writing your goals reinforces this effect. It is as if you have declared your goals to the world at large, and you are now doubly motivated to realize them.
How Meditation Turbocharges Your Goals
Too many stereotypical ideas and images have got meditation branded as an esoteric practice. Many people dismiss the practice as woo-woo stuff. It is a pity because the true goal of meditation is to create in our busy lives, moments of stillness when we can pause, calm our chattering minds, and focus on our true needs.
To set goals that inspire you and spur you to action, you have to figure out what resonates with your soul, aligns with your values, and makes your heart sing. You have to know yourself.
To become self-aware, you have to strip away the external distractions. You have to uncover your core personal values that are not swayed by societal conventions, dreams that are not dictated by others’ needs, and emotions that feel “right” to you. Meditation creates that space for you to get in touch with yourself.
Meditation also helps you reach your goals faster by helping you cultivate the success mindset and improve the way you function.
Building a habit of meditation and sticking to it makes you more disciplined and focused in the other currencies of your life. Learning to calm your mind especially in times of stress helps you do your job efficiently. The sheer practice of taking your mind off from the distractions around you and being conscious of the tiny voice inside of you teaches you to be in the moment and concentrate only on the task at hand without worrying about outcomes.
Do not fret. Meditating doesn’t mean you have to escape to some remote mountaintop to chant mantras while staring into nothingness. Just find yourself some quiet corner, in your home or office or at the park, plug in the earphones, and play a Meditable goal-meditation audio. A guided meditation app is a great tool to help us slip in some quiet inner work into our fast-paced days.
Most of us are not accustomed to looking inward at our thoughts or analyzing how we feel. Even if we manage to tear ourselves away from the noise outside, most of us don’t know how to quieten the hum in our heads. What will I wear to work tomorrow? Is he never going to ask me out on a date? How do I ask for a raise? You got the idea.
A guided meditation session helps you focus and find answers, so you know which goals are right for you.