Think about a boat sailing in the ocean. A ship without its sails set in the direction of the destination is considered lost at sea. Your life is much like this boat; the goals being the sails and the destination being where you want to be in life. Without goals you will find yourself lost with no tangible sense of direction in your life. The following are five tips to help you set goals and be smart about moving in the direction you want in your life.
Goals must be specific in order to truly focus your efforts towards the destination you want to reach. Setting a goal like, “Do better in school,” is not specific enough and may even add stress and frustration when not finding the results you want. To avoid this, it is helpful to set “activity goals” of steps to take to be successful. For example, instead of, “Do better in school,” break it down to, “Attend every class, read the chapters covered in lecture before class, study from [time] to [time] every week.” By setting activity goals, the stress is relieved from that overarching destination and all you have to worry about is just following your steps to success.
Measurable goals have clear criteria to make it simple to track your progress. Creating the aforementioned “activity goals” will make it easy to do so, but keep in mind these goals must be attainable.
Setting a goal to run a marathon in two weeks when you haven’t even ran a mile in two years is the exact opposite of an attainable goal. Nothing is impossible, but it is important to stay grounded and realistic with your approach to goal setting. It is not beneficial to set ridiculous goals like studying 60 hours a week. It is necessary for you to be able to commit to the goals you set for yourself in the long-term, so really sit and think about what you can do with your personal schedule to make things work. Goals that are too easy won’t inspire you to grow and be better, but goals that are too difficult may lead to frustration and cause you to lose focus. Try to find that happy medium of a goal that will both challenge you and encourage you as you work towards a better you.
Set one goal at a time. Now that you know to be specific and measurable when setting goals that are attainable, be mindful of staying focused when writing your goals down. Have one idea in mind of something you want to achieve and write goals relevant to achieving that goal. If you want to achieve something else, create a different section for that and repeat the process. This will help keep your mind clear and your brain sharp on your journey for improvement.
Last, but certainly not least is time. You will be setting which times you will be working on things in the process of creating activity goals, but it is important to establish a time frame for accomplishing the overarching goals that your activity goals work towards. Putting a time frame on things will not only have your life on a clear path, but when it gets close to the ending stages of that time frame you will know how much harder you may have to work to achieve the goal. Once again, this is not supposed to stress and put an overwhelming amount of pressure on you—just the opposite. The time frame should give you confidence to know that by following the steps you’ve put into place yourself you will have accomplished something in your life by a specific time. Typically established time-bound goals are the three to five year plan, one year expected growth, and month to month plans all tied to each other in some way or another.