Do you ever feel like you are adrift? That you’re working and working but not really getting anywhere? Are you hesitant to set goals? Or have you set goals in the past but given up because it was too hard to achieve?
Often, when people feel this way it is because they aren’t spending enough time focusing on what they really want from life. They are spinning their wheels but without any clear direction on where they want to go.
Does this sound like you?
Setting goals is a powerful way to think about your perfect future. It’s also a way to manifest those positive affirmations we talked about on Day 5 of the Happy in 31 Challenge. When we say positive affirmations we are moving our brains in the direction we want to go.
Setting goals makes us move in that desired direction.
By setting goals we are choosing where we want to go in life. Knowing exactly where you want to be and what you want to achieve is half the battle. Once you truly decide what your goal is you can concentrate your energy to making it happen.
So often we have a vague idea of what we want. Setting goals makes us pinpoint exactly what we want so we can more towards it. Also, when you have a set goal you can avoid doing things that will lead you astray.
There are two types of goals – long-term and short-term goals.
Long-term goals often have more steps and are more complicated. Say you have a goal of paying off your mortgage five years early. This is a long goal (especially if you have a 30 year mortgage). A goal like this has many steps and many moving parts. You might have to sacrifice spending money in one area of your life to pay extra on your mortgage. Or you might need to refinance your home for a better rate. A long-term goal like this one probably needs multiple actions in order to be achievable.
Short-term goals happen in a shorter time frame and may be a bit easier to achieve. These include things like, “I’m going to get through all the laundry today.” Or, “I will read three chapters by Friday.” These are goals that happen in the near future, usually only involve one or two actions, and are things you are fairly certain you can meet.
Sometimes a long-term goal needs a variety of short-term goals to become reality. Alternatively, setting short-term goals can build the confidence you need to achieve bigger, long-term goals.
Why You Need to Set Goals
You wouldn’t set off on a cross-country journey without knowing what highway you’ll drive on. Same with setting goals, you need a plan of how to get where you’re going.
When you set goals you have a clear vision of where you want to be and the short-term motivation to make it there.
Clearly defining goals allow you to take measure and pride in the achievements you make along the way. What once seemed like minuscule tasks become part of a clearer, bigger picture.
Related Post: How to Use Positive Visualization to Achieve Your Goals
How to Set Goals that will Actually Work
So it’s easy to say “I want to make a million dollars in five years.” Heck, who doesn’t right?
There’s nothing wrong with making a goal like this but you’ve got to clearly define how to achieve it. What will you do. What will it require?
Also, and this is important, do you really want it? I mean sure, we’d all like an extra million in our pocket but do you really want to do what it takes to get that million? Do you want to work 80 hours a week, lose sleep, miss time with your family, etc.? If you’re not a workaholic this might not be the best goal to set. See where I’m going with this?
When you set goals, realistically envision what you want your life to look like. If it’s sitting in front of a fireplace with close friends and family, being a workaholic isn’t the best way to achieve that.
Now don’t let me discourage you from setting a “million dollar” goal. Just be conscious of the things you truly want and the things you are willing to do to get there. Being aware of your true hearts desire will make achieving your real goals possible.
Related Post: 10 Tips for Using a Day Planner for Maximum Productivity
Your challenge for today is to set one goal to accomplish TODAY. Clearly define what it is.
Next, figure out the steps needed to carry out the goal.
Don’t sell yourself short here. If you set a goal of “get the grocery shopping finished” and you were already planning on going grocery shopping or you’ve got no choice but to go grocery shopping because there’s only mustard in the fridge, this probably isn’t the best way to do something meaningful.
Take a look at past to-do lists or notes you’ve jotted down. Got a phone call to make that you’ve put off? Make it today. Have a recipe you want to try but it’s really complicated? Cook it tonight. Get something off your “I want to list” by doing it today.
Once you’ve clearly defined your goal for today, brainstorm 5 goals you want to accomplish this year. You may have more than five but try to par your list down so that you’re only focusing on five goals for the year. This will make your thoughts and actions more streamlined and in turn make your goals more achievable.
When you’ve decided on your five goals, write down the ways that you will actually achieve them. Perhaps it will take a few weekly or monthly shot-term goals to build up to the year goal. Figure out the steps you need to take to accomplish those bigger goals.
Finally, make 5 more goals you want to accomplish within the next five years. Again, think of the smaller steps needed to achieve these larger goals. Also remember to ask yourself questions like “how do I want to spend my time?” and “how will this affect my sanity?” Just because something sounds like a good goal to have, if it makes your life miserable in the process it isn’t going to make you happier.
Set Goals for Happiness
It feels good to clearly define goals. In fact it can feel like a huge burden lifting away when we finally figure out what it is we truly want.
Also, it feels really good when we achieve goals that we’ve set.
Both of these things increase our happiness.
Another benefit, setting goals makes us be honest with ourselves. If we set goals correctly, we create a journey that we actually want to travel.
If Your Goal Isn’t Working, Change It!
I wrote a post about staying organized and one of the most important tips to remember is to constantly evaluate your organizing systems. Same with setting goals.
Evaluate how your goal is coming along. Are you happy with the journey there? Do you still want the same goal a year after you set it? It’s okay to reevaluate. We grow, we change, life happens! Living in a penthouse apartment in NYC may not sound so nice once you’ve had two crumb-snatchers. If you feel your direction needs changing, change goals. Sometimes goals aren’t all about the result but the wonderful life you live along the way!
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