Knowing where you would like for your life to go and how it should turn out will help tremendously in planning goal setting activities. After all, every road trip and every airline flight you take has a destination – your life should have one too.
Sometimes you will find that things as simple as discussing how to achieve your goals is tricky to define and hard to put your arms around. It’s one of those things like love; you sort of know what it is but can’t quite put it into words. And of course, there’s the factor about how it may something that is totally different to each person – all the more reason that it should be clearly defined.
When it comes to assessing goal setting activities, most of us spend the majority of our time achieving goals that were set by other people. In most cases, we are working on the goals of our respective employers. There is nothing wrong with this because that’s what they pay you to do. The problem is we spend zero time working on our own goals and objectives.
Using Visualization in Goal Setting Activities
After discovering your visions and values, you will get a vivid picture of where you would like to go in your future. From this picture is where your goals will be established. It is very important that you have short range, medium range, and long term goals. It is your short range goals that will give you direction and purpose on a daily basis. Mid-range goals will provide major milestones to your longer range goals which will keep you inspired.
The real reason that you need goals for all time ranges are that whenever you get discouraged (as we all do at times), you can shift your vision to motivate yourself again. For instance, if the daily tasks seem monotonous and you feel like you are spinning your wheels, then look at your long range goals for the reason you are doing these seemingly meaningless tasks. On the other hand, if your long range goals seem unachievable, then you know you already have a plan to get there and all you need worry about today are your short term goals.
Another thing about goals is that we all need balance in our lives. Although we are addressing your life’s purpose here, you should also set goals in other areas of your life. For instance, do you have physical fitness goals? Or intellectual goals? As a minimum, you should set physical fitness goals, intellectual goals, spiritual goals, leisure goals and social goals.
Granted, these types of goals may not be as involved or detailed as your life’s purpose, but they need to be addressed just the same. The thing is that when your life is balanced, you will experience even more purpose and happiness. The balance will give you much more perspective and appreciation for the abundance you already have. To give you some ideas in these areas, there are some suggestions listed in the box below. Hopefully, these will inspire you to create many of your own ideas.
Structuring Your Life to Achieve your Goals
In order to lay out the path to your goal, it is a matter of just taking that goals and breaking it down into workable tasks.
Determine what your goal is and the date that you intend to get there. Your goal is useless unless you have a date for its attainment.
Determine the major steps or milestones that you will need to accomplish to achieve the goal. Also, you need to determine the proper sequence of these major steps. Some steps will most likely need to be done before other steps, so make sure you have these properly aligned. Set a date for each of these milestones.
Determine all the tasks that need to be done for each of these milestones. Make sure that the tasks are properly aligned and set dates for all of them. Ensure that these dates support the date you set for the milestone. Again, do this for each and every milestone.
If necessary, break down these tasks into smaller tasks that will need to be done. Set dates for all of these as well.
Now lay out the Goal, the Major Milestones, and all the smaller tasks chronologically. From this layout, you should be able to determine what needs to be accomplished on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis right up to the completion of the goal. If this is not the case, then either you need to keep breaking down the tasks, or you have some tasks that will extend over several months, weeks, or days.
To assist you with mapping out your path to your life’s purpose, we have included forms at the back of this eBook that will walk you through this exercise. Feel free to use them or if you prefer, use your own methods.
There is no better way to illustrate this exercise than with an example. Please review the following case study on how to plan for writing a novel.
Case Study – Writing a Novel
Let’s say you are a writer and have a great idea for a novel about the old west during the gold rush. You decide that you would like to have the book written in a year.
Let’s say that you estimate the finished novel to be approximately 100,000 words long. You feel that you could comfortably write about 1000 words each day. So you estimate that roughly 100 days will be required for writing the novel. Let’s say that you are planning to write five days a week so that you will be able to rest on the weekends.
This means that each month will give you approximately 20 days of writing time – so you will need five months to do the actual writing.
In addition, you estimate that you will need about one month for editing the book regardless of whether you edit it yourself or if you hire someone. Now you know that your last six months of the year are accounted for and you will need to start writing not later than the beginning of the seventh month of your allotted year.
This leaves you the first six months of the year to develop the plot and outline, to create and develop the characters, generate a marketing plan, and to perform research. Let’s say that you allot the first month for roughing out the plot and outline, and that you plan to spend the second month developing the characters. Now let’s allot months three and four for topic research. During month five, you will generate a marketing plan, and during month six you will review and polish the plot, outline, and characters one last time before you begin writing.
Now let us examine visually how your plan for writing the novel is going to lay out:
Develop the plot of your new novel and draft an outline to follow
Research and develop all the characters
Research topics that is pertinent to your novel. Find out all important facts and strengthen your subplots.
Generate your marketing plan. Research your audience and locate professionals to network with.
Finalize your novel’s plot, finalize your characters, and finalize your outline.
Write your novel. Get a rough idea of how many words you need to generate each day so that you stay on track with your original goals setting activities and plans.
Edit your novel. Locate a publisher and an agent.
As you can see, each of the subtopics listed for Month 3-4, and Month 5 could be viewed as weekly tasks. And those could probably be broken down even further into daily tasks. Each month of your year long quest to write this novel can easily be broken down this way – making this huge task nothing more than a series of doable daily tasks.
While this plan is not written in stone, it gives you an idea of how to structure out the path toward your personal goals, career goals and also any business goals you may have.
Following the Plan for Goals and Objectives
If you are really serious about how to achieve your goals, then you must spend ample time on formulating a plan to get your there. The real secret of success here is to be as realistic as you possibly can.
You should consider and factor in every possible obstacle and pitfall that will get in your way when you strive to meet your objective. The tendency most people have to have too much confidence in what they can achieve, since the very act of goal planning comes from a motivated mind which is functioning in a positive state. You should force yourself to be realistic.
If you experience too many obstacles, then your inner voice will eventually convince you that goal setting activities are a bunch of crap and you will quit pursuing them. Believe me on this, I have seen it happen too many times. You must be reasonable and realistic in planning your goals to really give yourself a chance.
The second most important thing in goal setting is to start setting dates for each significant milestone to your goals. If you fail to do this, then there is no accountability. The only things in place to keep you honest and on track are those dates. Think about it – every great professional athlete in the world has a trainer. And what is one of the most important functions of that trainer? They hold the athlete accountable for his or her workout and his or her work ethic. The lesson of all this is even they need something to hold them accountable – as do all of us.
Along the Path to Success
The third most important thing in goal setting activities is knowing where you stand relative to the desired end result. You might think this is obvious, but there are many times when it is not so obvious.
The point here is having something to measure along the way. And that metric needs to be an assurance that progress is actually being made toward the goal of question. As you might imagine, not everything is easily measured. If you are doing something tangible like building a house or completing a term project, then setting milestones and metrics to measure against those milestones are pretty straight forward.
However, what if you are a counselor and your goal is show a certain client how to live a happier life? Not so easy, is it? Perhaps you need to define what activities might make them happier and strive to complete them in a predetermined period of time.
As with everything else in our lives, when we do something over and over again – the repetition makes us more competent over time. The same can certainly be said for goal setting activities too. The more we set goals, the better we get at achieving them. And there are many reasons for this.
Over time, we become more efficient with the process and our goal setting template becomes very reliable as we add tweaks here and there. Secondly, we learn to break bigger tasks down into smaller more digestible chunks – and this is very important.
And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, we learn more about ourselves. We learn what to expect from our own tendencies and work ethic. We begin to understand what periods of the day (or night) are most productive for us. We begin to realize where we fall short and may need others to help us occasionally – don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can do everything, because it is not always the case.
We need to understand and come to terms with the notion that as these things become apparent to us, then that is when we begin to blossom. As a wise Buddhist monk once said, “It is when we realize we know nothing that we become most learned.” Let these words ring through your soul and achieve your wildest dreams – remember that goals are only dreams with deadlines.