Setting goals is an activity that has become synonymous with the New Year, but in reality we should set goals year round. Well-defined goals are imperative as they help us focus our energy in the right direction. If for any reason you didn’t set any goals for 2016 don’t despair – there’s always time to set new ones and like a friend says plans are like scripts which can guide but shouldn’t be too rigid that thy can’t be adjusted.
While I can’t say I have been able to achieve every goal I set out for myself here are some steps that have helped me and I hope they help you to.
Write them down: While it’s nice to daydream while you enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, it actually makes more sense to write them down. Writing down your goals gives some “flesh” to your dreams and makes them more tangible. Writing down our goals also serves as a reminder that helps spur you on, especially in moments of self-doubt. Writing down your goals in a journal or diary helps you keep track of your progress. As the bible says, “write the vision; make it plain… run with it”.
Reflection time: There are times when you need to actually take time away from the maddening crowd to sit down and reflect on what your goals actually are. It could be something as simple as a few hours in the spa or alone at home when you can sit down and just gather your thoughts. Goal-setting retreats, which are becoming more popular, are also good places to sit down and reflect on your thoughts.
Prioritise: Our time and energy are limited resources, so there is always the need to place things on a list and work through the list methodically. Decide which goals need to be done right away, and which ones can be dealt with later or simultaneously. For example, you may have plans to buy your dream home as well as start your own medical practice – think it through and decide which goals should come first and which ones can be put on the back burner.
Tell someone: Tell not just anyone, and definitely not everyone, but someone who can hold you accountable. We all have our own “otimkpu”: that person who believes you can do anything and everything, and who will encourage you when your dream is beginning to look like a fantasy. The person you tell could also be a mentor: someone who has done it before and who can remind you that “it” can be done. It could be your spouse, sibling, or a life coach. Just make sure you tell someone who will encourage you and spur you on. In the event that you do tell the wrong person, that should not deter you. I remember when I told a dear friend about something I planned to do. She looked at me in disbelief, but rather than allow her lack of faith deter me, it spurred me on and the project is now done and dusted.
Be Smart: Using The SMART formula is always a great way to elucidate your goals. First of all set Specific goals: do not beat around the bush, but make them clear straight to the point, for example “I want to take a communications course in the UK in the first quarter of this year”. The more specific your goals are, the more achievable they will be. Your goals should be Measurable: that way you will be able to see to what extent they have been attained over time. It’s important to set milestones, as tracking your progress will help to keep you motivated. Try and make your dreams Attainable: now what is attainable depends on a lot of factors, such as your personal skills and inclinations, which can always be developed as part of your goal-setting. So do not make the mere fact that no one has done it before slow you down. It may be hard, but if you believe it can be done, set those goals and go ahead!
Your goals should be Realistic: now this doesn’t mean that your goals should be mediocre or small. You should dare to dream big! As a popular life coach once told me, “if your dreams don’t scare you they are probably too small”. Lastly, let your goals be Time-based: rather than a plan to “write a book one day ”, it should be a case of a plan to “I shall start writting a book before summer “.
Take steps: Now that you have your big bodacious goals all written out, you need to take concrete steps towards achieving them. If you plan on a getting a degree, then a good first step would be to take entrance exams or start applying to schools. Even if they are baby steps, take them and you will find yourself inching ever closer towards achieving your goals.
Lastly, do not be too hard on yourself . Sometimes we get discouraged when we don’t achiever what we plan and end up throwing out the baby with the bath water. Rather than giving up why don’t you asses yourself? Maybe the dreams were not to be achieved now? Perhaps you went about them to wrong way? Whatever the case don’t be discouraged and keep on keeping on..
Welcome to 2017 and all the very best!