7 Easy Steps to Get You Started with Goal Setting

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It’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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Goal Setting

What are the key elements to consider when setting goals?

When setting goals, it’s important to consider the SMART criteria – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Your goals should be clear and well-defined, allowing you to measure progress and know when you’ve achieved them. They should be realistic, align with your overall objectives, and have a set deadline for completion.

How can I ensure my goals are achievable?

To ensure your goals are achievable, it’s crucial to make them realistic and attainable. Consider your resources, skills, and abilities when setting your goals. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks and set a timeline for each task.

How can I stay motivated to achieve my goals?

Staying motivated can be challenging, especially for long-term goals. Regularly reviewing and tracking your progress can help maintain motivation. Celebrating small victories along the way can also boost your motivation.

What should I do if I fail to meet my goals?

Failure is a part of the process. If you fail to meet your goals, take time to reflect on what went wrong and how you can improve. Adjust your strategies if necessary and don’t be afraid to set new goals.

How can goal setting improve my life?

Goal setting can provide direction, motivation, and a clear focus. It allows you to measure progress, overcome procrastination, and gives a sense of achievement once you’ve reached your goals.

How often should I review my goals?

Regular review of your goals is essential. It helps you stay on track and allows you to make adjustments as needed. The frequency of review can depend on the nature of the goal – daily, weekly, or monthly.

Can I have multiple goals at the same time?

Yes, you can have multiple goals. However, it’s important to prioritize them to ensure you’re not spreading yourself too thin and can devote adequate time and energy to each goal.

How can I set professional goals?

Professional goals should align with your career aspirations. Consider where you want to be in the future and set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals that will help you get there.

How can I set personal goals?

Personal goals can be related to health, education, relationships, or personal development. Reflect on what you want to achieve in your personal life and set SMART goals to help you reach these objectives.

What tools can help me with goal setting?

There are numerous tools available to assist with goal setting, including goal-setting apps, journals, and templates. These tools can help you define, track, and achieve your goals.

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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