Goal Setting for Your Future
Establishing an awareness of your primary goal is the first, vital stepping stone towards achieving it. Your main goal will be the one thing that will create a fundamental shift or change in your life for the better – and it may be that you may need to achieve a short term goal before being able to move onto a longer term goal.
1. What do you want to change?
Start by contemplating what is important to you in your life at the moment and in what areas you feel that you would like to make changes. Spend some time thinking about yourself and your current life situation. To guide your thoughts, you may like to consider the following aspects of your life. For each context, give a mark out of ten which measures your satisfaction with each aspect at the present moment, where 10 is completely satisfied and 1 is not at all satisfied:
- Physical Environment (Surroundings, possessions & lifestyle)
- Health Career or Business
- Fun & Recreation
2. What is your ideal life?
Now, take some time to think about who you are now and who you wish to become. If you could have anything you wanted and no possible way to fail, what would it be? What is your ideal life? Think about a balanced life in which you enjoy what you are doing and have time for family and friends, relaxation, fitness and fun: what you really want to do, not what you feel you ought to be doing. What does your ideal life look, sound and feel like to you? In other words - what do you want to be, do and have?
Start writing a list of goals, desires, or accomplishments you want to be, do or have in your lifetime. Write as quickly as the ideas come to you without analysing, judging or censoring what's coming to you. Write down as many as possible and include desires that may seem unattainable, silly, outrageous or impossible. (You'll be prioritising, refining and weeding out later.) Be creative and have fun with this!
The key here is to suspend your disbelief - you want to get outside your comfort zone and expand your thinking. Forget the "how"; for now, you do not need to know how you will attain your desires.
Think about long-term desires as well as short-term desires. Identify desires you want to accomplish within the next week, month, and year. Now think out to beyond five years and write those down - really stretch your imagination.
To help you think outside your current situation where money and time are not an issue, imagine yourself in one (or both) of the following situations:
- You have just found out that you have won £1 million, £5 million, £10 million (you name your number!) on the lottery. You are financially set for life and can embark on any activity, career or project you choose. What would you be, do or have, for the rest of your life? How would your life be different from the life you have now? What would you change?
- Imagine you've just been given the same amount or more to make a difference in your community. Where would you focus? What would you do? List as many ideas as possible.
3. Which goal would you like to achieve?
From your initial ideas, pick the main goal or goals which you really want to achieve in the future, and by what date you wish to achieve it or them.
To help you define your goals more clearly, you may like to consider the following aspects:
What is the environment in which you want your goal? When and where do you want your goal?
What are your goals or outcomes in that context? What, specifically, do you want to do in that context? What is the new behaviour associated with the goal?
What capabilities are needed to reach the goal within the chosen context? How will you accomplish that goal and those behaviours? What capabilities and cognitive processes are needed or presupposed in order to trigger or guide those desired actions in that context?
What values are expressed by your goal and capabilities? What is important to you about achieving this goal?
What beliefs provide the motivation for your thoughts and activity? What beliefs will you have about yourself when you achieve this goal?
What is your identity or role with respect to the goal and the beliefs and values associated with it? Who are you if you engage those particular beliefs, values, capabilities and behaviours in that particular context?
For what purpose do you want to achieve this goal? What is your mission in the larger system in which you are operating? What is your vision of the larger system in which you are pursuing that mission?
If your goal is related to your job or career, you may find the following helpful in developing further detail about your goal:
- Where do you work?
- What are the external influences in your life, and on you?
- Where do you not work that you would like to work?
- What do you do?
- What behaviour do you have that you would prefer not to have?
- How do your behaviours reflect you?
- What skills enable you to do your job?
- What are your key capabilities?
- What are your less useful or less developed capabilities?
- What are you doing to develop key or less developed areas?
- What is important to you about what you do?
- What factors influence your decisions?
- What do you believe is true about you and those around you that enables you to do what you do?
- What beliefs do you hold about yourself?
- What beliefs do you hold about your job?
- What beliefs would you like to hold that are not currently present?
- Who are you?
- Who are you not that you would like to be?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Of which systems are you a part?
- Who are you in relation to that system?
- What is your purpose in business/life?
4. Setting a SMART goal
Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T. - ie Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic and Timed.
- Express your goal in the present tense, as if it was already real. Your unconscious mind works best when the instructions it receives are in the present tense and are positive. So, for example, it is better to say, "I am emigrating to France" rather than, "I want to move away from the English climate".
- You will need to be able to define specific markers along the way to achieving your goal, so that you know you are still heading in the right direction. In the example above, these might be "12 months before moving", "6 months before moving".
- Don't let "realistic" get in the way of making your goals bold and ambitious; just make sure that whatever your goal is, you truly believe you can attain it even if you know you will have to stretch yourself to get there. Make sure it excites you - you will need to be fuelled by motivation in order to achieve it!
- Make sure you have a target date - even if a goal is written, without a target date it is still a dream. This doesn't need to be a millstone, but should be realistic and challenging.
5. How will I achieve it?
Now, how will you achieve your goal? Taking your main goal or goals, set intermediate goals in the same way as above, which you would have to achieve in order to attain your main goal. What resources would you need in order to achieve your main goal? For example, if your long-term goal is to live in France, you may need to learn to speak French as an intermediate goal.
Now, again in the same way, what immediate goals do you need to achieve in order to attain your medium term goals? In the example above, this could be finding someone in your area who teaches French, or investing in a "teach yourself" CD.
By now you should have identified your main goal, along with some ideas as to how you can achieve it. You can now start to examine these ideas more closely and begin to take the actions that will move you closer to your goal.
Remember – without action there can be no change.
If you would like help with setting your goals, Joanna offers one-to-one life-coaching sessions to help you move from where you are now in life to where you want to be. Contact Joanna for more information.
Copyright Joanna Taylor 2013