How to Set Personal Goals

Are you busy but not going anywhere? Do you have few if any life goals? Do you think small? Do you lack motivation? Are you living a life less than your potential?

Knowing how to set personal goals is a well accomplished skill of people who have successful lives. I would like to share with you what I learned from a wonderful book named Success Is Not An Accident by Tommy Newberry. As Tommy Newberry so accurately says, if you do not have specific goals written down for each area of your life, you will be accepting a life of default rather than choosing who you wish to become.

When you have major goals written down in each area of your life – family, spiritual, career, personal health, personal growth, education, friendships, giving, and hobbies/recreation – you enjoy the following benefits:

  • You can more easily recognize opportunities because you know where you want to go.
  • Goals give you both a longer term focus and a shorter term agenda allowing you to lead your life rather than drift.
  • Having goals allows you to make decisions if your actions are moving you closer to or further away from your goals.
  • Goals provide you with a constant source of energy and motivation.
  • Goals help you to stay focused on the bigger picture.
  • Goals allow you to dream about and visualize your future.
  • Goals motivate you to advance your education in your areas of interest.
  • Goals will give you a sense of control over your life because your actions will be inner directed rather than directed by outside events, circumstances, or individuals.
  • The act of working toward your goals generates happiness and self-confidence.
  • Goals allow you to work toward becoming the person you wish to be.

With all of the benefits to goal setting, why do so few people set goals for themselves? The answers can be quite varied, consider the following: Refusal to accept responsibility for who they want to become, fear of failure, fear of criticism, lack of knowledge, lack of  resources or support, or the lack of understanding the role goal setting plays in reaching one’s potential and ultimate happiness.

Successful people possess tremendous clarity about where they are going, what they want to achieve, and how they are going to get there. The following is how you can set goals to become the person you would like to be:

1)      First, you must be able to understand the benefits to your life by setting goals; otherwise, why would you do it?

2)      Write down what you value in life.

3)      Dream about everything you want to become in each of the nine life categories we discussed previously; write them down.

4)      Start visualizing your future life in each life category and write down what it looks like to you.

5)      Write down your longer term goals (10 to 30 year time frame) for each life category. Your goals must be personally meaningful to you so make sure they tie into your life values. Keep in mind it’s the longer term outlook that is important to be successful; your longer term goals build determination, self- discipline, and help to maintain your focus.

6)      Write down your shorter term goals in each life category as a stepping stone to accomplishing your longer term objectives (a one to three year time frame is about right)

7)      When you write down your long and short term goals, utilize the following guidelines: State your goals in the present tense – “I will…” or “I am going to….” Your written goals should paint a positive picture in your mind. Use very specific language to describe your goals and have an approximate date of completion.

8)      List the benefits of accomplishing each of your goals; this will give you the motivation required to keep going.

9)      Make a list of changes you must make within yourself to accomplish your short term goals.

10)  Make a list of the resources, education, and support you will need to accomplish your short term goals.

11)  Make a list of the obstacles you will face and ideas for how you will overcome them.

12)  Write down your shorter term actions, or to- do list, that will be required to accomplish your shorter term goals (a one month time frame is about right)

13)  Most important, remember most things will not work out exactly as you have planned so be prepared to learn from your failures and make revisions in your actions.

Congratulations, by simply reading about how to set personal goals you are on the right path to living a more fulfilling life – one filled with meaning, purpose, and happiness. What steps can you take today to start living your life to its fullest potential?

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