Having a personal goal simply means that you have something in your life that you would like to do, have or achieve.
For example, you can have a personal goal related to your health, such as trying to lose a certain amount of weight, related to your career, such as advancing within a company and reaching a certain position, or related to your personal finances, such as earning a certain amount of money each month or year.
In fact, you can have a personal goal related to virtually anything in your life that is important to you, and most successful people will have several personal goals for multiple areas of their life which they are working towards at any one point in time.
Goal Setting the Right Way
Goal setting on the other hand, deals with the things that you must do in order to reach your aim or objective. Typically, it involves writing down your goals, planning a course of action and then following your plan until you finally accomplish what you have set out to do.
For some goals, this may take as little as a few hours or days and you will be able to quickly complete your goal. For other goals, however, it may take you months or even years before you are able to finish all the things that you need to do to complete your goal.
As you might imagine, those who continually work towards the attainment of their personal goals tend to be amongst the highest paid and most successful people in society, because they focus their energy on doing the activities which provide long-term benefit to their life and so are rewarded as a result of their hard work and effort.
Focusing on success
If you have ever read a self-help book before or a book on how to improve your life, then you are probably already familiar with what a personal goal is. After all, the concept itself is extremely simple, as all a personal goal really is, is something that you desire to have in life.
But what not everyone is aware of, is exactly why it’s important to have personal goals. As a result, even though having them may seem like a good idea, most people soon forget about them and quickly go back to their old way of doing things. They then wonder why their life hasn’t changed.
Why is Having a Personal Goal Important?
One of the most important reasons for having personal goals is that they help you to focus your mind on the things which will benefit your life and off the things which won’t.
For example, if you strongly desire to lose weight, then you are likely to take steps to help you achieve that aim.
As a result, you will probably start exercising, eating healthy foods and staying away from junk food because you know that those are the things which you must do to achieve your aim.
Without a personal goal however, you are likely to spend the majority of your time doing what is fun and easy with little or no regard for the long-term potential consequences of your actions, because all you are concerned about, is the here and now and the satisfaction of your immediate short-term needs.
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If you set goals the wrong way, you will not only make it harder to achieve them, but you could also put yourself off the process of goal setting and end up never setting any more goals at all.
When setting goals, there are four things you need to remember at this stage; make them specific, make them realistic, make them challenging and make them measurable.
So let’s have a look at each of these now, and then later on in this article we shall go through a step by step example of how I set my goals.
1) Set specific goals.
An unspecific goal is something which gives you a rough idea of what you want to achieve, but doesn’t provide you with enough information or direction to actually achieve it.
An example of an unspecific goal would be “I want to be rich“. These types of goals are the most common types of goals that people have, but they aren’t really goals as they are more like a dream or a wish.
A specific goal is something that provides you with enough information and direction to enable you to work towards its achievement. For example, “I will earn $50,000 by 31st December next year by increasing my sales of widgets by 15%“.
This type of goal is specific, because it tells you exactly how much money you want to earn and what you can do to get it. Once you have this information, you can then create a plan of action with specific steps to follow to achieve your goal.
This plan would involve taking your long-term goal of making $50,000 next year, and creating a series of smaller short-term goals, which, when completed, will result in the completion of your main long-term goal. To set a specific goal, start with a general goal that you would like to complete.
Write it down, and then beneath it try to write something more specific. Continue this process until you have a clearly defined specific goal. Lets use another example to demonstrate this process. • I want to get rid of my guitar because I don’t use it anymore.
• I want to sell my guitar and make some money.
• I want to sell it on eBay.
• I want to get as much money as I can.
• I want to get $100 for it.
• I have sold my guitar for $100 on eBay excluding delivery and fees.
As you can see, if you apply this process to any general goal you can easily make it become much more specific. Once you have a specific goal, your chances of completing that goal will dramatically increase.
2) Set realistic goals
An unrealistic goal is any type of goal which seems so impossible to achieve that you never even bother to start working on it.
As a result, it’s viewed as something that might happen, but probably won’t. People who only set unrealistic goals very rarely achieve them, and so this is something that you want to learn to avoid doing from day one.
On the other hand, a realistic goal is something that seems possible to achieve. It’s not so far out there that you know if you were to work towards its achievement, the chances of you getting it will be very good. However, what you will often find, is that realistic goals can be related to, and sometimes stem from, an unrealistic goal.
For example, if you are currently overweight, then losing 100 pounds in two months might seem like an impossible task. After all, that is a lot of weight for a person to lose and it is going to take an enormous amount of hard work and self-discipline to achieve it.
But if you were to shorten that goal to losing 10 pounds in one month, then that goal suddenly seems a lot more achievable and real. Which goal do you think would motivate you more to start working on it immediately? Obviously, the 10 pounds goal because it’s a lot more realistic, and therefore, believable.
3) Set challenging goals
While goals must be realistic, it is also very important for them to be challenging. A challenging goal is something that feels just out of your current reach, but you know that you will be able to grab it if you stretch yourself.
Challenging goals therefore act to get you out of your comfort zone by motivating you with the prospect of achieving something that you want, but don’t yet have.
Goals that are not very challenging are those which seem very easy to accomplish. As a result, they don’t really motivate you to go after them because you feel as though you could achieve them any time you want.
But because you are not being pushed out of your comfort zone, the chance of you ever bothering to achieve such a goal is not going to be very good. The reason for this is simple.
When faced with an unchallenging goal you are more likely to be motivated by the current comfort you are experiencing, rather than being motivated by the benefits that achieving your goal will bring.
4) Set measurable goals
Unmeasurable goals are things that can’t be measured or defined in specific terms. For example, “I want to become a better person” would be an unmeasurable goal because how can you possibly know when you have become better? And what exactly do you want to become better at?
Just like unspecific and unrealistic goals, unmeasurable goals are very unlikely to ever be achieved because they are far too general for you to know what you want and how you will get it. Measurable goals are therefore goals which you can measure in some way.
For example, if you wish to complete a goal within a specific period of time, say, run a mile in under four minutes, the measurement of time can be used as a determinant of whether or not you have achieved your goal. Another common form of measurement is quantity.
For example, losing 20 pounds over two weeks involves measuring the achievement of your goal against a specific quantity and a specific time period.
The measures you use when setting goals therefore serve as signposts to let you know how far along you are and how far you have left to go. Once you have a specific target to aim for, you will find yourself much more motivated to achieve such a goal because it also becomes much more specific and realistic.