How to Set Goals
1. Determine your life goals. Ask yourself some important questions about what you want for your life. What do you want to achieve: today, in a year, in your lifetime? The answers to this question can be as general as “I want to be happy,” or “I want to help people. “Consider what you hope to attain 10, 15, or 20 years from now.
A career life goal might be to open your own business. A fitness goal might be to become fit. A personal goal might be to have a family one day. These goals can be incredibly broad.
2. Break the big picture down into smaller and more specific goals. Consider areas of your life that you either want to change or that you feel you would like to develop with time. Areas might include: career, finances, family, education, or health. Begin to ask yourself questions about what you’d like to achieve in each area and how you would like to approach it within a five year time frame.
For the life goal “I want to be fit,” you might make the smaller goals “I want to eat more healthily” and “I want to run a marathon.”
For the life goal “I want to open my own business,” the smaller goals may be “I want to learn to manage a business effectively” and “I want to open an independent book store.”
3. Write goals for the short term. Now that you roughly know what you want to accomplish within a few years, make concrete goals for you to begin working on now. Give yourself a deadline within a reasonable time frame (no more than a year for short-term goals).
Writing your goals will make them harder to ignore, consequently making you accountable for them.
To become fit, your first goals may be to eat more vegetables and to run a 5K.
To open your own business, your first goals may be to take a bookkeeping class and to find the perfect location for your bookstore.
4. Make your short-term smaller goals, steps towards the long-term larger life goals. Basically, you need to decide why you’re setting this goal for yourself and what it will accomplish. Some good questions to ask yourself when figuring this out are: does it seem worthwhile? Is now the right time for this? Does this match my needs?
For example, while a short-term fitness goal might be to take up a new sport within 6 months, ask yourself if that will help you reach your bigger goal of running a marathon. If not, consider changing the short term goal to something that will be a step towards meeting the life goal.
5. Adjust your goals periodically. You may find yourself set in your ways concerning broad life goals, but take the time to re-evaluate your smaller goals. Are you accomplishing them according to your time frame? Are they still necessary to keep you on track towards your larger life goals? Allow yourself the flexibility to adjust your goals.]
To become fit, you may have mastered running 5K races. Perhaps after you have run a few and worked on improving your personal best times, you should adjust your goal from “run a 5K” to “run a 10K.” Eventually you can move to “run a half marathon,” then “run a marathon.”
To open your own business, after completing the first goals of taking a bookkeeping class and finding a location, you may set new goals to obtain a business loan to purchase a space and to apply for the proper business licensing through your local government. Afterwards, you can move towards buying (or leasing) the space, then obtaining the books you need, hiring staff, and opening your doors to business. Eventually you may even work towards opening a second location!