GOAL-SETTING is a powerful process for personal planning. It is a means of setting a direction in life or business. By setting goals, you have a track to run on and a specific direction in life or career to follow. Goal-setting allows you to plan your course, identifying in advance obstacles you might have to overcome. Setting goals correctly can be exciting and motivating. As you get into the habit of setting goals and, more importantly, achieving them, you will find that it builds your self-confidence and grows your self-belief.

From business people to top athletes, there are no successful people who do not have specific goals and objectives to achieve. Most people will set goals of an individual nature or ones that involve others. The reason these people achieve so much is because they have a long-term vision and use goal-setting as a means to achieving and sustaining short-term motivation. They are organised in what they want to achieve and when they want to achieve it by.

How to go about goal-setting

Identify what it is that you want to achieve in life or business, then break it down in smaller more achievable tasks.
After you have done that, you can plan how you will go about achieving those tasks. What is most important of course is that once you have a plan, you must work to it. A good way of going about this is by mind mapping and visualisation. Consider a goal that you wish to achieve and picture in your mind that you have achieved it. Your mind map might be the picture of a mountain and various obstacles you might encounter on the climb.

The starting point

Decide on the goals you want to achieve and set them out in their order of importance. Chose one or two of the most important goals and set them out on the mind map as indicated above. Consider the first set of obstacles or difficulties you might have to face and write them down. Write down what you will do to overcome the obstacles and plan your course from that point to Camp 2 (refer to diagram) At Camp 2, you need to review your goals and the progress made so far.

Look up at the pinnacle of the mountain and reconsider the goal. This is a remotivation phase. Again, consider obstacles and/or difficulties you might still have to deal with and prepare yourself mentally to overcome them. Continue your climb and stay with your plan of action until you reach Camp 3. Rest and reassess your goal. How are you progressing? You are already a long way on the road to achieving your goal, so why give up now?

Consider the next set of obstacles and how you will overcome them. Begin the climb to achievement and conquering the peak. The obstacles you encounter may be more difficult than anticipated, but you are ready and prepared to deal with them. Should you hit any unforeseen weather conditions, or obstacles you have not prepared for, you can go back to Camp 3 to reassess the situation. After you have done this, you can proceed forward and upward to your goal. Finally, celebrate the achievement of your goal and consider the obstacles you have overcome. What have you learnt on the way? What might you avoid in the future?

This approach to mapping your life can be applied to any area of life or work. What I like about it is that I can see what I have planned on paper. Each stage of reassessment can refer to any period of time you want. It can represent a day, a month, six months or whatever you wish it to represent. The smaller the stages the better the chances of success. The following guidelines may help you set effective goals:

State each goal as a positive statement. For example, “I am the best customer service consultant because I always listen and treat the client with respect.”;

  • Be precise:
  • Set a precise goal, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you will know when you have achieved the goal;

  • Set priorities:
  • When you have several goals, direct your attention to the most important ones;

  • Write goals down:
  • This crystallises them and gives them more force;

  • Keep goals small and achievable:
  • Keep the goals you are working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too big, it can hamper your progress;

  • Break larger goals down to smaller segments:
  • Keeping goals small and incremental make them achievable. Make today’s small goals part of a bigger one;

  • Set goals you have control over:
  • There is nothing worse than failing to achieve a goal for reasons beyond your control;

  • BE realistic:
  • Set goals within your range of capabilities and experience.

When you have achieved a goal, take time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Consider what you have achieved and what it means to you. Will this achievement assist you in achieving some greater goal? Have the obstacles encountered highlighted a shortcoming or lack? Can this lack of something become another goal? Are there goals you can achieve that will help in the achievement of greater goals?

Des Squire is a managing member at AMSI and Associates. Call 082 800 9057 or email [email protected]

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