Goal Setting Tips for Achieving Your Dreams
Too often our intentions are greater than our actions. But good intentions won’t get you anywhere if you don’t have a plan. Ideas may stay in your head or be the focus of some intense conversations, but without a plan, not much more happens. Three years later you can find yourself still thinking or talking about the same ideas without having made a move to produce tangible results. Setting clear goals and developing an action plan will help you to accomplish something big. Kick aside your resolutions and follow these goal setting tips for achieving your dreams.
If making another resolution is the furthest you have taken things this year, it’s time to ask yourself some tough questions. What’s in the way of making your ideas actionable? Is lack of clarity or fear holding you back, or is it just procrastination? Certainly the reasons could be a combination of all three or more complicated than any of these. Whatever the reason is, the end result of a resolution without an action plan is the same: nothing. It would be fantastic if analyzing the cause of your inaction takes you closer to taking action. But don’t get so caught up in the analysis that you paralyze yourself. Continuing to do nothing won’t change anything, and inaction can sometimes make your situation worse.
How much time would have been saved if you had just followed the recipe?
Taking action without considering the order of required steps or timelines can take you off course and be just as detrimental as inaction. Planning is the missing link. You may feel busy when you dive in, but failing to plan can waste time and lead to disappointment. Have you ever attempted to bake a cake without a recipe and ended up with a flour mixture that didn’t rise? Did you then read the recipe, only to learn you had forgotten the baking powder? Imagine how much easier it would have been and how much time would have been saved if you had just followed the recipe. Along the same lines, it is better to think through your intentions and make sure you have all of the ingredients you need. If you are lacking details, then add all of the required steps to learn how to make your next move possible.
A really big goal can be overwhelming. And setting unrealistic expectations for its completion can further sap your energy. Breaking a really big goal into manageable objectives will make it more approachable. Then setting a realistic time frame for accomplishing it takes the pressure off. Deep planning for each of your objectives will allow you to come to terms with your expectations and recognize potential obstacles.
List everything that has to be done.
The next step is to break down each objective into specific, actionable steps from start to finish. This part of the process may seem tedious, but it’s really the most critical. List everything that has to be done. This will ensure each step is visible, and subsequently, much more doable. You can plan timelines much more accurately and track your progress to make sure your target dates for hitting key milestones are closer to reality.
Goal setting does not have to be a complicated process. It is a critical piece in developing a road map to what you want. No matter what your goal is, the process is roughly the same: take stock of where you are and compare that to your goal. What specifically do you want? By when? Make sure to assess your own behaviors, influencers and resources, as you determine what is possible. Then write your recipe (action steps) for getting there.
If you are interested in changing your career, then take the time to plan for it. There are many ways to achieve a change outside of your industry or into an entirely different kind of role. It can feel completely overwhelming if you focus only on the disparity between where you are and where you want to be.
Break your objectives down into tasks, then plan when and how you will accomplish them.
Blocking a specific amount of time each week to research will help you set objectives for what you need to do. Those objectives will make it much easier to see how you can accomplish your goal. Break those objectives down into tasks, then plan when and how you will accomplish them. This part of the process will show you that your goal is doable. Your pace will be determined by the amount of time you’re able to invest each week. It is entirely up to you whether you do or don’t get the work done. Expand the following steps to fit your specific goals.
- Record and examine your current status.
Evaluate your situation. Pinpoint everything you’re currently doing that you specifically don’t like. Identify areas you where you could improve your skills. What is it you think will improve or be different for you if you made a change? Are you certain? What steps can you take to learn more and confirm your assumptions?
- Evaluate potential changes. You can examine what you can change on your own or with the help of a coach. You may actually find options within your current company or industry that are closer to what you want than making an entire leap. At the same time, you need to examine your schedule, your activities and determine when you can add the time needed to research. Plotting out exactly how much time you are willing/able to invest each week will show you what is within your power to do to move in a new direction. Carefully assessing where you spend your time, what you need to learn and who you need to speak with is a critical piece of the process. These steps will help make your goal doable and successful.
- Develop your plan. Based on the evaluation of where you are and what it might take to get where you want to be, break down everything you need to do to reach your goal into manageable steps. At this early stage, there will clearly be information you don’t know. Key points to research might include required skills, compensation, demand and what it really takes to be competitive. Make sure you include every detail. Find out where/how you can develop new or existing skills. Plot out how many hours that will take and how much it might cost. Schedule ALL of your activities. Set yourself up to succeed by adding all of the necessary activities into your calendar. It’s critical to see when you’ll be able to accomplish these in relationship to your work schedule and family time.
- Get started. The time to begin working towards your goal is when you can see exactly what you need to do. Record your results each day and recognize when your choices work and don’t work. Be swift to adjust your timelines or approach and keep moving.
Don’t delay your dream because it seems overwhelming or you have an unrealistic timeline. Begin by creating small steps. Make subtle changes in your routine and develop new habits for effectively managing your time. Instead of assuming you’ll win the lotto or that job postings will lead you to your dream job, you’ll have designed an actionable plan with a realistic timeline that you can control. The change will be incremental and you will be able to track your progress. By accomplishing the steps required you will see how you are moving forward in the right direction. If you go off track you can make changes before you invest more time or money heading in the wrong direction.
If you want to change your job or your entire career, enlisting the help of a professional is going to make the process smoother. You’ll also have support when your plan seems too hard to carry out. Having a realistic goal, a sound plan and professional guidance can really help you to accomplish something big.