7 Easy Steps to Get You Started with Goal Setting

stepsIt’s not uncommon to be intimidated by the entire process of goal setting. You may feel overwhelmed by all of the areas where you can set goals, unsure how to get started, unable to identify what’s realistic, and even scared to make a commitment to a specific goal.

Many times, this fear around goal setting comes from the fact that many people think about their goals only once a year, like New Year’s resolutions. But goal setting is most effective when revisited on an ongoing basis.

To take some of the uncertainty out of goal setting, here is an easy 7-step process to help you get started. This is the first in a week-long series of posts on effective goal setting.

Step 1: Start by Brainstorming

You may have a lot of possible goals floating around in your head, or you may be completely stumped about where to start. Either way, a brainstorming session can help you identify some focus areas and pinpoint exactly what you’re hoping to accomplish. Take some time before diving in to brainstorm and get clarity.

Step 2: Think in Terms of Small, Medium and Large

All of your goals do not have to be large-scale and immediately life changing. In fact, you should have big and small goals that require varying amounts of time to complete. Think in terms of long-term goals (one year, five years, 10 years), short-term goals (this week, this month, this year) and mini-goals (now). You should have a mix of all three in your goal process.

Step 3: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Give yourself an opportunity to really experience valuable change by pushing your limits. It may be uncomfortable, but the more you’re willing to test yourself and take risks, the more you have to gain. Create goals that require stepping out of your comfort zone in order to fully experience growth.

Step 4: Focus on Performance, Not Outcome

In order to ensure you have control over your own success in accomplishing your goals, each one should be focused around your performance in a specific area, and not the desired outcome. For example, an outcome goal may be winning an award from a literary organization for writing a book. This is beyond your control because you can’t determine the panel’s final decision. A performance goal would be completing the book.

Step 5: Make It Exciting

Many goals are ignored or forgotten simply because they are boring. Setting goals that excite you will make it easier for you to stay committed and motivated during the process. If the goal isn’t one that keeps you moving, it may not be a valid goal.

Step 6: Put It All in Writing

Sometimes seeing things in black and white makes them seem more real. Make it common practice to write all of your goals down on paper. Not only will this give you a concrete set of metrics to measure your success, but it can help keep you focused.

Step 7: Create a Goal Check-In Schedule

We’ve already identified that the most effective goal setting process is one that requires regular thought, modifications and analysis. If you set a schedule for checking in on your progress, you will be able to make goal setting a common activity in your life and one that you are entirely comfortable with. You may want to break your check-in schedule down on a monthly or even weekly basis, especially for your mini-goals.

How do you feel about setting goals? What do you dread about setting them? Do you have a system in place that works for you?

Stay tuned for the second part in this series about SMART goals.

Image credit: Sigurd Decroos

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  • Shaun

    After some research I found out that more than 75% of people who set New Year’s resolutions will break them within 3 months and almost one-third will break them by the end of January? Whether your goal is to stop smoking, lose weight, get in shape, break bad habits, pay off debt, or find true love; most people end up being another statistic.

    Shaun Maddox

    http://www.MyNewYearsResolutionsExtremeMakeover.com/

  • Phil

    I’m not so sure about #4 – I think people need a combination of performance goals and outcome goals. For example, when you are just learning something, performance/habit goals are more important. But once you are proficient in an area, you need to move to outcome/results based goals, right? At least that’s what they say at http://goaltriangle.com . Seems to make sense.