How To Set Goals And Achieve Them [Successfully]: The Ultimate Guide

In this new article you’ll learn how to set goals and achieve them.

“What does ‘goal setting’ mean?” you may ask. Well, goal setting is a very popular strategy for reaching success in today’s society.

After all, we’re always so busy with work, relationships, finances, health, and more that things tend to get so chaotic and out of control. However, you can get control of these things through setting personal goals.

Personal (and even professional) goals can help you to develop and maintain your focus and your motivation while increasing your potential for becoming successful in all of your endeavors.

How To Set Goals And Achieve Them:

Types of Goals

This will be discussed in greater detail later, but there are some things that you should know about goals. Most of the time, goals are time-sensitive, which means that they focus on an immediate or a prolonged outcome.

A short-term goal is a goal that covers a short period of time, such as one day or one week. On the other hand, a long-term goal focuses on several months to several years.

You can apply the principles of g o a l setting i n a n y a r e a o f y o u r l i f e : business, relationships, personal growth/development, or health.

Features of Goal Setting

Of course, you should know that goal setting is a personal process and can take on various forms. Keep in mind, though, that writing down or recording your goals is very important for keeping your deadlines in mind and your steps in the proper order.

In fact, you’re much more likely to achieve a goal if it is written down (along with the plan of action) because it will reduce the amount of time and effort you have to put forth into your goal over the long-term period.

There are things that you can include in your goal planning, such as including a timeline, deciding on the steps you need to follow to reach your goal and a way to chart your progress (whether daily, weekly, or monthly).

Benefits of Goal Setting

Setting goals for yourself (whether personally or professionally) will help you to create clarity and organization for yourself, because it w il l b e your roadmap to your final destination.

In fact, one study conducted by the University of Baltimore revealed that companies that utilize the process of goal setting actually function much better than those businesses that do not set goals.

Of course, the benefits of setting goals are not just for business – you can apply them to many areas of your life. The National Institute of Health, or NIH, has said that setting health goals can help you to create healthier behavior changes, such as a proper diet and exercise routine.

Limitation of Goal Setting

If you don’t take the time and effort to properly determine your goals and decide on an action plan, it can actually keep you from achieving your goals.

For example, if your goals are too challenging or too specific, you run the risk of becoming discouraged and fail. Plus, when it comes to business, if your goals are too narrow, there’s the possibility for unethical behavior, taking risks and other irresponsible actions.

SEE ALSO: How To Get More Done In Less Time: 16 Powerful Productivity Tricks

The Importance of Setting Goals

Have  you ever taken the time to set goals for yourself (whether personally or professionally)?

Think about this: what would you like to achieve in the next year? What about the next three years? Where would you like to be five years from now? What about ten years from now? Are there any aspirations that you’re looking forward to coming true?

Taking the time to SET goals for yourself is the very first step towards successfully achieving those goals. It is your roadmap that points you in the direction of success.

This is the step that will give you the focus and will spur you on to action. Without taking this vital step, you will never achieve anything.

Think about it – have you ever met someone who has a passive approach towards their life? They never set any goals for themselves; they just live life “by the seat of their pants” and whatever happens, just happens.

You see them a year from now, even ten years from now, and their lives will basically be exactly the same as they are now, with a few minor changes due to the desires and actions of others more than their own.

Start Setting Your Goals

Now that you understand the reasons for setting goals, it’s time to start setting them. Take a moment to ask yourself: What are my personal goals for the next year? What about three years? What about five years? What about ten?

If you really take the time to set your goals, you will definitely grow as a person. When you spend just a little bit of time verbalizing some aspirations you’ve had on your mind, you’ll make more progress in your life in one year than you will if you don’t do this.

Types of Goals

When you get ready to take the time to set your personal goals, you must know that there are several different types of goals. The kind that you set will depend entirely on the situation and environment you’re in. Following are three of the basic types of goals:

  • Purely Rational Goals: these are clear and concise
  • Directional Planning Goals: these provide some general direction
  • Breaking Through: these help you focus on dealing with current concerns

Purely Rational Goals

When it comes to business, people use purely rational goals. These goals are very clear and concise in nature and often numerical. Most of the time, purely rational goals use the SMART process (more on that later on) in order to create goals that are measurable.

Following are the questions you must ask yourself to set a purely rational goal:

  • WHO: will anyone be involved in helping you to complete your goal?
  • WHAT: what exactly is it that you want to be able to achieve?
  • WHERE: where specifically must you be in order to achieve your goal?
  • WHEN: when is your deadline for achieving your goal?
  • WHICH: are there any considerations you must make in order to achieve your goal?
  • WHY: why exactly do you feel this goal is important?

Directional Planning Goals

These goals are not specific, but general. This type of goal setting process is perfectly acceptable for your long-term goals when the outcome can be predicted fairly easily and for those situations when others must be involved in the specifics.

Often, in the business realm, this type of goal is used to take a look at topics such as cost/quality concerns, as well as looking at abstract concerns such as behavior/attitude.

Breaking Through

In some cases, setting a goal will help you to “break through” a particularly difficult situation. In most cases, this particular goal is unclear and the situation may be too difficult to really understand what you want the direction to be.

These goals are typically used when it comes to a crisis. You probably already figured out that this type of goal works well for those who can easily accept change and ambiguity.

Best Times to Use Various Types of Goals

In the business realm, you’ll come into contact with each of these three goals at some point or another. One thing you should know is that in the business realm, the best types of goals to use are rational and concrete.

Following is an explanation of goal types and when to use them:

Rational Goals

Rational goals are best used with concrete topics such as cost, sales, quality, etc. They are best used i n short/medium time frames and w h e n a l l o f t h e information is clearly available.

There must be a clear commitment in order to make the goal happen. Rational goals a r e best u s e d  w i t h new/inexperienced people w h o n e e d s o m e direction, and concrete/rational thinkers.

Directional Planning Goals

Directional Planning Goals are best used with the “big picture” or in situations where there is no clear outcome. They are best used in the medium/long time frames when you want to give others the responsibility of clearly defining the outcome, or when there is not a lot of information.

Creative people or those who are more experienced with goal setting will benefit the most from this type of goal.

Breaking Through

Breaking Through Goals work well with a wide variety of topics and can be adapted to any situations. They are best used in those situations when you are in crisis and need more time to clearly define the issues. People who can accept the change are ideal for this kind of goal.

Short-term Versus Long-term Goals

Short-term goals are those that happen on a fairly quick basis. On the other hand, long-term goals are those that take more time to achieve. Here I will further explain these concepts.

Short-term Goals

A short-term goal is a goal that you’d like to be able to achieve in the near future. That can refer to today, this week, this month, or even this year. As it’s very basis, a short-term goal is something that can happen in 12 months or less.

Following are some examples:

  • Take some classes
  • Buy a new TV/computer/etc.
  • Create your resume to find a new job

Long-term Goals

On the other hand, a long-term goal refers to something that you want to achieve further into the future. These types of goals require time, effort, and planning.

Long-term goals are not something that can be achieved in a week or even a year. Most long-term goals take 12 months or more – sometimes even years to achieve.

Following are some examples of long-term goals:

  • Save money for retirement
  • Graduate with a college degree
  • Start your own business

Tips to Help You Set Long-Term Goals Following are some tips for setting long-term goals:

1) First of all, work backwards. Envision what you would like to achieve and then decide on the steps you must take to help you reach that goal. Think about the things you can do right now to begin your path.

2) Take some time to figure out where you’d like to be in ten years and what you’d like your life to look like.

3) Now, think about what will need to be accomplished in five years, one year, and six months to keep you on your path to achieving your long-term goals.

4) Get a notebook and write down what you will need to do in order to achieve your goals.

5) As you begin to make progress towards achieving your goals, re-evaluate and adjust as necessary to keep you focused on your final goal.

Take Time to Prioritize

When you’re setting your goals, you must take some time to decide what you need to do first and how to adjust them when you need to. This is what is known as prioritizing.

Taking time to prioritize your goals (1) means that you take the time to decide what is most important to you at this time in your life. Of course, all of your goals are important to you, but you simply can’t do everything at once. Here are some tips to help you prioritize your goals:

1) Think about what is the most important to you at this time.

2) Direct your focus on that particular goal.

3) As you become comfortable with your efforts, add additional goals as necessary.

4) Always be flexible and willing to change your focus as your life (and society) begins to change.

Goals Should Be SMART

When setting your goals, keep in mind that they should be SMART. What is that, you ask? SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. Here is what all this means:

1) SPECIFIC

This means that when you define your goals, you should be detailed and precise. So, when you set your goal, you must ask yourself WHAT you’re going to do, and then give a clear and detailed answer.

2) MEASURABLE

This means that you should know when you finally achieve your goal. When setting your goal, you must ask yourself HOW you will know when you reach it. This will require numbers.

3) ACHIEVABLE

This means that your goal is more than simply a dream – it is something you can actually reach. When setting your goal, you must ask yourself HOW you’re going to achieve it. Then, you must make your plan to achieve it.

4) REALISTIC

This means that you must be able to achieve your goal within a specific time frame. When setting your goal, you must ask yourself how long it will take you to reach it, and be completely honest. Don’t give yourself an impossible time constraint.

5) TIME-BASED

This means that your timeframe is not open, but has a specific beginning and end. When setting your goal, you must ask yourself WHEN you plan to achieve it. Then, you must be willing to take baby steps until you have reached it.

Many times, people make very general goals and then wonder why they can’t seem to achieve anything. However, taking the time to make a goal SMART will give them the motivation necessary to make things happen.

SEE ALSO: How To Be More Efficient With Your Time: 24 Time Management Tips

Tips to Achieve Your Goals

Now that you’ve learned how you should set your goals, it is time to learn some tips for making those goals come to fruition. After all, there’s no point in taking the time and making the effort to set them if you’re not going to take some steps to achieve them.

1) Commit yourself to achieving them

First of all, you must realize that achieving your goals will require lots of dedication and commitment.

There’s no way to avoid this. If there’s a specific goal that you’re having trouble committing to, go back to the beginning and start over. It may be that you didn’t really identify your goal correctly or perhaps you’re just basically lacking the motivation (2) to make it happen.

2) Track your progress to achieve your goals

You already know that it’s important to take the time to write your goals down, right? Now, you must realize that it’s just as important to write down your progress to achieve those goals.

There are goal tracking worksheets you can get that can help you do this, or apps for your phone/tablet/computer, or any other system that you can come up with.

The whole point of tracking your progress is to periodically check on yourself and see where you were, where you need to go, and where you are. This will help you to make sure you’re on the right track and that you’re not completely going off into left field.

3) Break down the goals you’re trying to achieve

Sure, it’s wonderful to have ambitious goals. However, those really big, ambitious goals can be quite difficult to achieve. Still, if you take the time to break them down into a group of smaller goals, you will make reaching that big goal much more manageable.

4) Get some help to achieve your goals

I can totally understand that you’re independent and want to do it all on your own. Believe me, I tend to be that way myself. However, reaching out to others for support or guidance can be a huge help. Perhaps you need someone that can hold you accountable.

Even though your goals are very personal to you, the truth is, you’re not alone. Reach out to someone that you love and trust to help you to achieve those goals. This will make things so much easier.

5) Keep focused on achieving your goals

Especially when it comes to your long term-goals, it’s very important that you keep your focus on the big picture. Sure, there will be times when you’ll be focused only on what is in front of you and what you’re currently doing to achieve your goals.

However, it’s vital that you keep your destination in mind, so that you’re not distracted by other things. Plus, when you think about being successful, your motivation is much more likely to stay intact.

6) Be consistent with your actions to achieving your goals

Two things that are very important when it comes to achieving your goals are consistency and routine. If you make a routine out of your process, it will be easier to keep it going. You don’t want to constantly change the time when you check-in, or any other part of the process.

7) Always be positive on your way to achieving your goals

Okay, so maybe it sounds a bit cliché, but always thinking on the positive will help to propel you to success. Negative thoughts will actually ruin the whole process of achieving your goals.

However, when you hit a roadblock or a challenge of some sort – and you will – thinking positive thoughts will help you to get past them.

Conclusion

I hope this text was able to help you learn some useful ways to set and achieve your goals.

The next step is to take what you have learned and apply it to your life. After all, you must learn how to set specific and measurable goals AND reach them. There’s no reason to set goals if you’re not going to seriously pursue them, right?