The Importance Of Setting Your Goals

Have you ever set resolutions for the new year, only to find yourself setting the same exact ones the following year? We all know that setting goals mark the first step toward success, but following through with action is actually the bulk of the work. Setting goals is the easy part, whereas following through with actions tend to be the challenging part of the process. This is the stage where many falter in their progress toward their objectives. 

Why is it that when it comes to executing them, goals tend to be abandoned halfway through? The answer possibly lies in the process of setting goals. The stage where you’re defining your goals is just as important in order to incorporate them into an actionable plan. Whether you’re feeling jaded about this process, or have no clue where to start, read on to find out how you can turn the goal-setting process into something realistic that’s actually achievable. 

Why set goals

Visualising the end result of what you want to achieve can become fuel for the drive toward your aspirations and objectives. Setting goals gives you a clearer picture of the destination, and creates a vision for you to work towards. Let’s face it, without any goals you will be lost and without direction, and no success ever came as a result of passively living out your life until something comes along. 

Goals can also give us a sense of direction and purpose in life. Without a career goal, you might feel unmotivated at work. Living a purposeful life can bring about great positivity and drive in one’s life. A clearly defined goal would also help you to implement and execute the action plan needed with more focus, thus making it attainable. 

How to Set Goals Effectively  

Rather than looking at your goals as one gigantic task, breaking them down into smaller daily, weekly or monthly cycles can help you work toward your goals as a work in progress. Effective goal setting prevents you from feeling overwhelmed, and you are more likely to stay focused and motivated toward your objectives. If you’ve been abandoning your goals and new year’s resolution one too many times, try defining your goals within the following framework. 

Long and short-term goals 

In general, there are two types of goals that you can set for yourself: long-term and short-term goals. 

Long-term goals help you visualise the end goal or final objective for you to work towards. It’s easy to feel lost and demotivated without any long-term goals, and you will perhaps even start to wonder “what am I doing with my life”? Long-term goals are also useful for reminding yourself on days where you are feeling down or questioning what you are doing all this work for. 

The process of setting long-term goals involve asking yourself some important questions that have to be answered with total honesty. It’s the part where you ask yourself where do you want to be in 5-10 years’ time, perhaps more. These are life aspirations that are often intertwined with dreams that may seem unrealistic and unattainable. But if you can define long-term goals clearly and come up with a viable action plan to make them work, nothing is impossible. 

As part of the action plan, you can come up with short-term goals that will complement and help you achieve the longer-term objective. Short-term goals are steps that can help you answer the questions that you’ve previously asked yourself when trying to define long-term goals. By setting goals in a shorter time frame based on a daily or weekly basis, you make what may seem like an unattainable dream become closer with each accomplished task in the short term. Breaking tasks down into lighter and smaller groupings makes the tasks easier to approach. Without short-term goals, you can easily become overwhelmed and anxious about your long-term ambitions, which is enough to demotivate and make you feel resigned about ever achieving them. 

SMART goals 

The SMART framework is great for setting goals. SMART stands for: 

S – Specific 

M – Measurable  

A – Attainable 

R – Relevant 

T – Time-bound 

Specific goals are well defined and clear. Too often people confuse between having a dream and having a goal. Saying “I want to feel healthier” is not going to give you much direction at all because the statement is vague and broad. Instead, try narrowing down the specifics by identifying areas of your physical wellbeing that you want to improve on and focus on them. For example, saying “I want to be able to able to run 5 laps continuously around the stadium in 2 months’ time” makes it less ambiguous and more specific. 

Measurable goals can be quantified. If you have a goal of buying a home, quantify that goal into a measurable number. For example, saying that you want to save up $100,000 for a down payment makes the goal more measurable and gives you a number to work towards. Setting measurable goals helps you to visualise something that has yet to become reality. 

Setting attainable goals requires you to consider your current resources and circumstance while factoring in the time that you have to achieve the goal. It’s about making sure that the goal is realistic and possible to achieve. Setting a goal that is unrealistic and unachievable under your current circumstance is setting yourself up for demotivation and will demoralise your confidence. 

Relevant goals are goals that are aligned with your personal belief and aspirations. There’s no point in setting a goal to which you have no desire or if you are doing it for someone else. It’s simply not going to be sustainable in the long run, and can even breed contempt if you are basing your goals on someone else’s wishes. Goals that are not aligned with the direction in which you want your career or life to take will lead to regrets and disappointment in yourself. Make sure your goals are in line with you and no one else. 

Finally, time-bounded goals are objectives that have a time frame or deadline to them. Setting a deadline and making yourself accountable to it can ensure discipline and spur you into action. I know of many who slack off or stop working on tasks when deadlines are not given to accomplish them. It’s also a great method to discourage the thief of time from paying you a visit. Yes, I’m talking about procrastination. 

Create a plan

Once you’ve spelt out and defined your goals clearly, it’s time to put together an action plan for you to attain them. If you’ve divided up your goals into long and short-term as well as set your goals within the SMART framework, the actions required for you to start working toward your goals will become clear. 

Having a plan and sticking to it is vital if you want to achieve the goals you’ve spelt out. This is the part that requires discipline and a combination of well-defined goals to sustain your motivation. The combination of a good plan and well-defined goals keeps the momentum going on rough days or on days where you feel like you’re losing sight of your long-term goals. 

Write everything down

At the end of the day, you’re not going to remember a goal that you made in the spur of the moment if you don’t write it down or make a note somewhere. Make sure you use the goal-setting framework to write them all down so that you can refer to them again when you’re halfway through your progress or if you feel like you’ve strayed from your objectives.

Bear in mind that goals can change over time, and should be allowed some breathing room for flexibility rather than being set in stone. Sometimes, sacrifices in the short term have to be made in order to advance toward longer-term goals. Remember also that there’s no such thing as failure, as failure is really just one of the stepping stones toward realising your goals, provided you learn from them. If you fail halfway, remember the goals that you set for yourself, don’t be afraid to modify them if necessary, and never give up. 

Here at Bridge, we want you to ask yourself what are the goals and aspirations that you’ve set for yourself for the week, month, and year. Check out our career guidance page for more useful lifestyle and career tips!   

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