Whether it’s a specific position at work, a finish line you’re dying to cross or a vague notion of a life well lived, you have an idea of where you want to go. Imagining that incredible mountain peak with winding trails to reach the top can be daunting. Knowing where to begin, how long it will take and the necessary steps to reach the end zone is not an easy feat. Fortunately, there is power in setting goals along the way to put achievement within reach.
What is goal setting?
While a life coach can assist you in mapping out a goal, it’s important to grasp the concept for yourself. Goal setting is the process of defining what you are looking to accomplish and mapping out the steps to achieve it, requiring more than just a dream. Goal setting must involve significant planning, dedication and measurement to be effective. The end goal may be a far reach, and getting there might take days, weeks, months or years. With proper strategies, lengthy timelines can be less intimidating and successful outcomes within sight.
The best place to begin is with reflection. Invest the time in reflecting on where you are now and allow yourself to feel gratitude for the present and the journey up ahead. As you reflect, recognize the category in which the goal fits.
Is your goal family and home-life oriented? Is it a professional or career-related goal? Or, is your goal related to personal growth? The better you understand where your goal falls, the better you’ll be able to plan the steps toward achievement.
Why should you set goals?
Constructing a path toward success that you define, recognize and own is a powerful tool to increase the likelihood of achievement. With a plan in place, you’re committed and held accountable when each piece of the plan is either surpassed or left standing. As Mindtool puts it, “it gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation.” From Olympic athletes to business tycoons, goal-setting is something you’ll likely find among most—if not all—successful people.
Goal setting is not only a helpful strategy, but a proven one. Research shows it benefits self-esteem, self-confidence and self-reliance. A 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews also found a strong link between goal setting and success. With research at the helm, it’s clear that goal setting not only benefits mindset, but also outcomes.
What are the best strategies to adopt?
The planning is just as important as the effort when it comes to goal setting, and certain strategies have been proven to be more successful. To start, establish small, achievable goals, and set them often. Set small goals that you are confident you can achieve, surpass them and then set new goals. Small benchmarks will keep you from getting discouraged and help you stay focused with little victories along the way.
The size of your goal will dictate how far you break it down, reducing it further and further until it’s one small task that you’re sure you can complete in the timeframe set. For example, if your goal is to run a half marathon, maybe start by trying to run a 5k. But, before that, start by completing a training program. And, to break it down even further, start by completing the first day of that 5k training program today. Each small step brings you another checkmark closer to that broader goal.
The same study by Gail Matthews also found that participants were far more likely to achieve their goals if they wrote them down. Yes, meaning actually putting pen to paper. So, grab a notebook, mood board or just a post-it on the mirror and write each goal down. Give yourself an opportunity to check in with weekly progress reports—another keystone of success with Matthews’ group. Of course, you won’t have someone monitoring your every move, but it’s important to check in with yourself to keep things on track. And, it will give you another opportunity to be mindful, feel gratitude for the process and look positively toward the next step.
Need Help Setting Goals? A Life Coach Can Help
As goals are set and written down, it’s important to make sure that they’re measurable and have a set time frame. As you hold yourself accountable to a plan in place, you’ll likely see that each step wasn’t as daunting as you feared and that every victory brings you one step closer to accomplishment.
And, if you need a little push, let us help you. We’re here to guide you, provide tools and resources and be a sounding board along the way. Learn more about our life coaching programs and the power it can bring to your life.