by James Manktelow and Kellie Fowler
You don’t have to be a professional athlete or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to set goals. Instead, what you do have to be is an individual who desires success — whether in your career, within your family, or perhaps with your personal finances.
Goal setting is simply an organized personal planning process. It is a reliable method for identifying what you want to achieve — whether in the long- or short-term and whether in your personal life or your professional career. And the process of setting goals gives you the laser-sharp focus you need to achieve real and lasting success.
So, to start setting goals, perhaps the first step should be to simply take some time to decide what direction you want your life to take.
From there, goal setting keeps you focused on your chosen direction and can act as a reference point any time you feel you have strayed from your determined path. In this capacity, goal setting offers yet another benefit, which is to help you more accurately identify the distractions that are road blocks on your path to success and happiness.
Perhaps one of the most immediate effects of goal setting is the gratification you feel when you set a goal, stick to a plan, and achieve it. You have to reach a goal only once to know that the fulfillment and pleasure you derive from achieving your goals is a strong catalyst for returning to, and relying on, strong goal-setting techniques and methods again and again.
And, once you start setting goals and meeting them, you will quickly notice an improvement in your confidence level, which will have a positive impact on every area of your life. In working to achieve your goals, you will also soon have a better understanding of your strengths, while simultaneously developing a stronger sense of accomplishment, one that grows with every single goal achieved. Now, talk about a great return on your investment!
To effectively set goals, you must first understand that the process actually takes place on a variety of levels. It is best to start with the bigger picture here, or your life-long goals. These goals are then broken up into smaller goals, which, of course, represent your day-to-day goals (and act as stepping stones on the path to life-long goal achievement, or success). These smaller goals oftentimes can be broken down even further to provide you with all the steps you need to take to achieve your goals — both immediately and in the future.
Once you start this process (and stick to it) it won’t take long for you to see the results, which include being able to break down even the most complex life goals into stepping stones that you can tackle every day, until you reach the bigger picture, or have achieved your lifetime goals.
And, once you have set the large, lifetime goals, you may find that the process becomes even easier (and more beneficial) if you break down the goals into specific categories. For instance, you may want to take a piece of paper and write on it various columns with headers such as career, financial, and family. Then, take a minute to organize your lifetime goals accordingly.
Thankfully, there is a great deal of information and a full array of resources that you can rely on as you work to set and achieve your goals, including tips, techniques and the methods used by some of the most successful people in the world who, just like you, started out by obtaining some useful information and then moved forward with a list that helped propel them to high levels of success and happiness.
Just like you can, these people simply decided what they wanted to achieve and took the time to start the process by setting the goals needed to achieve their overall plan — a process that has created some of the world’s most successful business people, most celebrated athletes and most recognized public figures.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
James Manktelow and Kellie Fowler are with Mind Tools Ltd. They offer a simple process for setting goals and an industrial-strength process, Make Time for Success!, that integrates goal setting with powerful time management techniques that can super-charge your career.
Review all our career tools and resources in the Career Resources Toolkit for Job-Seekers section of Quintessential Careers.