The beginning of a new year always inspires some people to set some goals for the next twelve months.

Sadly, not many people do use this occasion as an opportunity to take stock of what they have and take stock of what they aspire to improve and what they aspire to achieve.

For those that do take the time to set goals, the results can be incredible.

The thing about goal setting is this:

“It’s impossible to hit a target that you are not aiming at.”

So if you have chosen to set goals, you have put yourself well ahead of most people in the population who do not set goals.

Those people who choose not to set goals are sometimes termed “wandering generalities” … because they meander through their lives with no specific purposes or plans mapped out.

Meanwhile, those people who set goals for themselves, present themselves to the rest of the population as being “meaningful specifics”, because they have purpose and desire, and want to get things done.

Setting goals is just part of the first step… 

Most people who set goals don’t achieve their goals.

They either find the task of achieving their goals too difficult, or they set goals that are too lofty.

It can appear incredibly difficult to save a large amount of money, or lose a large amount of weight, or buy an expensive car.

However, if we do take the time to map out a timeline for achieving lofty goals, then they can be achieved.

Remember, the longest journey always begins with the first step.

It’s just how many steps you take or need to take after you’ve taken that first step that determines whether you complete the journey or not.

We all know the question:

“How do you eat a baby elephant cake?”

And the answer is of course:

“You eat it one bite at a time.”

When I set goals…

When I set goals, I do it on paper.

I get a whole pile of 3×5 system cards of different colours, and I choose one colour for each of the following categories:

  • Relationship goals
  • Family goals
  • Financial goals
  • Fitness goals
  • Recreational goals
  • Travel goals

I then write each goal I have on a system card that’s colour matches the category that this goal belongs to.

In the initial stages, I’m just writing subject titles on each card.
I’m trying to think of as many goal titles as I can.

Once I’ve exhausted my mind for goal titles, I then revisit each card and add more specifics to each goal.

For example: one goal might be to lose weight. A more specific description might be to get my weight down to 64 kgs, and even more specific might be to set a time or date as to when I might like to achieve that goal.

Another example might be to have a goal of travelling to the USA. Specifically, I’d like to spend some time in New York and Chicago and San Francisco and Dallas and Cleveland visiting friends who I have not seen for some time. I might set this as a two year goal because of other more urgent goals that need to be achieved firstly.

For travel goals there are always sub-categories of people to see, and places and things to visit. And weather and time of year also plays a part in setting travel goals.

Set your time frames…

Goals don’t always have to be big and lofty.

Big goals can be difficult to achieve and can create frustration and disappointment when they are not achieved.

There’s a lot to be said about setting small goals that can be achieved regularly on a short term basis, that result in huge changes annually if achieved cumulatively on a weekly or daily basis.

We all know that there’s very little benefit in eating 365 apples in one sitting.

But if you eat, as the saying goes, an apple a day, you certainly can keep the doctor away.

I liked to form my goals list into a table.

Along the top I’d arrange ten columns from left to right in time frames. Starting with the second column, I’d label each column across the top of the table as follows:

  • One week goals
  • Two week goals
  • One month goals
  • Three month goals
  • Six month goals
  • One year goals
  • Two year goals
  • Five year goals
  • Ten year goals

In the first column, I’d list the six different categories of goals.

And then I’d place each system card in its appropriate box on the table, determined by category of goal and time frame.

I’d also…

I’d also look at my current list of goals and bring all goals yet to be achieved into the new table of goals.

It’s now about balance.

It’s been said that the more tasks you give someone, the less likely they are to actually get done.

Goals can be like that too.

We need to make sure we don’t overload ourselves with too many short term goals that cause us to fail to get started on important long term goals.

For example, if you aim to lose 20kgs by December 31, 2024, it might be wise to look at what you need to set for a goal for each month in 2024, and what you need to be doing and have done by each monthly marker.

Because if you get to November 30, 2024, and you haven’t lost one kilogram in those eleven months, then it’s going to be almost impossible to shed that 20kgs in the last thirty-one days of the year.

Once we’ve set all our time frames and chunked down our long term goals into achievable short term markers, it’s then time to re-jig some of our goal deadlines so that we don’t bombard ourselves and sabotage our plans and intentions with “overwhelm paralysis”.

This may mean pushing some short term goals along the timeline for a short time while we establish some habits to ensure we on track to reach those important longer term goals, without a last minute rushing and alarm.

Ultimately, the thing with goals, is achieving them, no matter how long they may take to achieve.

And it’s important to be comfortable with our own results, and the efforts we have put in.

The important thing about goals is….

Remember, the important thing about goal setting is that you can set goals whenever you want.

You don’t have to wait for January to set a goal.

They’re your goals.

The most important thing is to remember that a goal started is a plan.

And a goal that is never started is at best a wish, and at worst, a pipe dream.

Your list of goals can be very fluid.

You should try to keep to your time frames, but remember, you can always add new goals and substitute and pause other goals, depending on what else you have on.

It’s said…

It’s said that only 3% of the population write down their goals and read them every day.

And it’s also noted that this 3% of the population achieve more in life than the remaining 97% of the population who do not write down their goals and read them daily.

Do you think goal setting is worthwhile?

I certainly do…

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