If we all knew how to set goals that excited us and motivated us to the point where taking action was easy and felt natural we would all be achieving great things. I want to achieve great things – what about you?
One of the important criteria for setting SMART Goals is that your goals should be realistic and relevant. A relevant goal is one that improves your finances or your life in some meaningful way.
A relevant goal will be important to you, it will be aligned with who you are at your core and it will excite you. Working towards a relevant goal might involve some hard work but it won’t seem like hard work because the thought of achieving your goal will provide you with all the motivation you need to get it done.
This focus of this page is how to set goals that are relevant and meaningful to you.
No One Goal Can Operate in Isolation
The subject matter through out the pages of this site is how to make significant positive changes in your life or business, and you probably expect a page on how to set goals to focus on how specific goals. Sorry to disappoint…
Although I firmly believe that having goals is important, I also know that you cannot successfully achieve your goals if you fail to take into account how that goal is going to impact on the other important areas in your life. Areas like work or your career, family, health and well-being, relationships, and your sense of self for example. Before you start working on developing a particular goal, it might pay to look at all of the significant areas of your life and evaluate the areas that need to be worked on.
Try the Wheel of Life First
The wheel of life is a powerful tool for looking at the major areas of your life and determining which ones need some work. The wheel is like a pie chart and usually has either eight or ten segments. What you are asked to do is to rate each one of these segments from 0 (being non-existent or really, really bad) to 10 (being as good as it could possibility be).
Then you draw an arc on each segment at the number you have selected to represent your wheel of life pictorially. Most of us end up with a rather mis-shaped wheel which would have no hope of rolling anywhere! Seeing the shape of your wheel can help to illustrate why your living your life is perhaps a little less like smooth sailing and more like being tossed at sea!
The ten life areas I have on my version of the wheel are:
- Money & Finance
- Career & Work
- Health & Fitness
- Fun & Recreation
- Environment (Home)
- Family & Friends
- Partner & Love
- Growth & Learning
Bear in mind when you look at the results, none of these life areas are totally independent of the others and you will notice some overlap or relatedness. For example, often the type of environment you find yourself may well be related to money & finance, career & work, family & friends and your partner.
If nothing else, by doing this exercise you will have identified those areas of your life that do not need to be made worse by chasing after a poorly thought out financial goal!
When you are working on identifying and developing your goals, please do keep in mind the areas on your wheel of life that may be impacted.
Now for Some Ideas on How to Set Goals…
Do you already know what your goals are? If so, well done. You can skip down to the next section and go to my page on SMART Goals to make sure that the goal you have selected is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and has a specified Time Frame.
For the rest of you, let’s get comfortable.
Many people I come across are not really sure what their goals are or what they should be, they just know that things need to change. So let’s do a bit of brainstorming.
Get yourself a piece of paper (or two) and a pen. Now let’s gt started, take a couple of deep breaths and find your centre, then read the first question below and write a short answer to the question on your piece of paper. Do it quickly, without thinking about the answer too much.
1. What is happening at the moment that you don’t want or is not working?
Now go a bit deeper and answer this question:
2. What specifically is happening at the moment that you don’t want or is not working?
Did you manage to write a few things down? Good, now take a minute or two to check and see if there is anything else you could write down. Is there anything missing from your list?
Perfect. Now, without thinking about how you would get it, answer this question for me:
3. What do you want instead?
One more question:
4. What specifically do you want instead?
So from your list of things that you do want, pick one that has a bit of a kick to it. What I mean by that is, read through the list one item at a time, and pick the one that makes you feel ‘more’. It might be more ‘anxious’ or more ‘excited’, the kind of emotion doesn’t really matter, just the strength of it.
Once you have done that, you have found the particular area of your life that your goal needs to address. The next step in how to set goals is to envision the end result, this allows us to check that we are working on the correct area of our lives and to make sure that we will be able to recognise our state when we have actually achieved the goal.
How to Set Goals – Defining Your Future State
Okay, sit back now and relax for a minute or two and take yourself forward in time to a time and place where you have accomplished your goal and you have everything that you want. You can use your imagination or visualisation – which ever process works best for you.
Close your eyes and visualise or imagine the scene in the future when you have what you want and write down what the answers to each of the questions below:
5. What do you see happening around you?
6. What do you hear people saying about you or to you?
7. What are you feeling?
Once you have answered these questions take a minute soaking in those sights, sounds and feelings and write down the answer to the following question:
8. If you had all of that, (the sights, sounds and feelings) what would be the result?
Don’t be surprised if the result is quite different from what you started out thinking it would be. Sometimes we think one thing will solve all our problems, but realise part way through the process that what we thought we wanted and what we actually want are two different things.
For example you might start the process thinking that if only you had a bit more money, everything would be great. But really what you see, hear and feel when you imagine a future state is more about spending more time with your kids. And that might or might not be related to the amount of money that you have.
And remember the most important thing about understanding how to set goals that bring us the results we want – the only person we can change is ourselves. Developing a goal that requires someone else to change their beliefs or their behaviours before you can have what you want is doomed to failure. In that kind of scenario, all you can change is how you behave around that person and how you react to their behaviour.
How to Set Goals – Developing the Goal Statement
Okay so now you know what you do want, it is time to work out what will get it for you. So again, get comfortable and take a few deep breaths to centre yourself. Then, think of and write down as many ways you could get or do that on your piece of paper.
Do it quickly, without thinking about the answer too much.
All done? Great, now write down another way you could do or get that.
Good. Now I want you to think about someone you admire, someone who would always give you great advice. Now write down what they would tell you to get that result.
One more. If there was any other way of getting that result, that you hadn’t thought of before, what would it be? Got something? Good Write it down.
Now look through your list. You should have several options to choose from, which one do you think will work the best to get you the result that you want? Write it down on a new piece of paper – and look, not only do you now know how to set goals but you have developed your first goal!