Goal Setting Made Simple

Article By Dee DeWitt

Probably because of the economy, the fact that my 50th birthday comes this year, and any number of other reasons, I have been thinking a lot recently about my goals. 


For most of my life, I think I have either ignored goals altogether … or made goal setting so difficult that nothing is accomplished. 


After a lot of thought, I believe a better way is by goals simple … no overkill, no software programs to track goals … just a simply sheet of paper or index card.


The key to simple goal setting is to not have too many goals.  That’s not always possible for some people, but even so the idea of making goal setting simple has merit. 


Having too many goals makes things complicated and requires a more complicated system for keeping track of your goals.


Keep things as simple as possible if you can. That has the added benefit of allowing you to focus your energies on a small number of goals, making you far more effective with them. 


Try this:


Brainstorm with yourself or your spouse.  If you don’t already have a list of things you’d like to accomplish, start out by making a list.  Toss everything on the list … you don’t actually have to do them.  This is just to make sure you don’t miss anything.


Pick the one goal.  Take a look at your list, and pick the one goal that will change your life the most in the next 12 months.  Is it something that can be accomplished in a year?  It can take less than a year, one month or three or six months.  If it will take several years, you might want to create a sub-goal that will take a year or less.  Any longer and it’s hard to stay motivated.  Is it a goal that will really make a big difference in your life?  Is it something you truly want to achieve?  Be sure it’s something you’ll be committed to, or you’ll likely lose motivation.


Choose a mantra.  Once you’ve chosen your goal, turn it into a personal mantra. This is an idea from Guy Kawasaki, who said that a business should abandon a mission statement and create a 2-5 word mantra instead (his was “empower entrepreneurs”).  So use this idea and create your own personal mantra.  Write those words on a piece of paper and stick it to the refrigerator, or put it on your bathroom mirror.  Make sure that you never forget your mantra.  Treat it as one of your personal affirmations.


This month.  What can you do this month to make your goal happen?  If your goal will take a year or so to accomplish, you’ll want to create smaller sub-goals or interim goals.  Figure out a project you can do this month to get yourself a few steps closer to that goal, and focus on that.


Today.  Every day when you wake up, think of your mantra and what you can do today to make your goal closer to becoming a reality.  It just has to be one thing.  If you do one thing each day, you’ll reach your goal.  Also … don’t put it off until the end of the day, when it will get pushed back until tomorrow. Do it early in the day.


This may sound like a lot.  However, in reality you are just choosing a goal and creating a mantra for it; and focusing on shorter-term actions to make your goal a reality.


Many people will say that having just one goal is impossible for them.  They say they need more goals.  Here are two solutions for that:


Do just one goal for now. You can still do the other goals, but put them off for a month or two. Focus on one goal for at least a month.  Turn it into a habit.  Once your first goal becomes a habit and is on autopilot, turn to the next goal.  You don’t have to worry as much about the first goal because it has become automatic.


Do multiple goals, but keep them simple.  In trying to accomplish multiple goals, often times we spread ourselves too thin.  Try to find ways to focus on one goal at a time.  Focus on one of your goals each week of the month, or just one of your goals each day of the week.  By doing so, you won’t end up feeling overwhelmed and risk losing your effectiveness.


“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them.  Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.”
-Og Mandino


“Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives.  One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it.  That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy.”
-Denis Waitley


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Posted on 27 April, 2009 in Goals, Simplify
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