Few among us today would doubt the importance of setting goals. Everyone from motivational speakers to your high school teacher touts its benefits.
According to decades of research by the professor, psychologists, and goal-setting enthusiast Edwin Locke, goal-setting improves performance in almost everyone. And that’s especially true if the goals are hard to achieve and offer a specific target. Goal-setting works as much for students and corporate leaders as for stay-at-home parents.
But if you need more convincing o the subject of goal-setting, read on. We dive deep into the benefits of this behavior-changing practice.
Goals give you something to focus on, helping you concentrate your thoughts and efforts daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. Like a bird of prey, goals ensure you zero in on what you want to achieve, and distractions fall by the wayside.
Some focus-related goal-setting tips include:
- Establishing boundaries with people and your time
- Planning your action steps to reach the goal
- Deciding on the resources you need—labor, time, or money
- Creating goals with a clear outcome
You’ll find you have more purpose when you know where you’re going and what you want to achieve.
Assess Your Life
It can sometimes be hard to celebrate our achievements. We’re often our own worst critics. Goals can help us positively assess our life: past, present, and future.
But how to set goals that help you assess where you’ve been, where you’re now, and where you should be going? Why, make a list, of course!
Take out a piece of paper or open up a new document on your computer or mobile device. Analyze your past achievements and write down those you’re most proud of. Next, list the goals you’re working on now and what you hope they will bring to the “future you.”
Make sure any “now” goals are SMART because you’re much more likely to succeed with these types of goals.
Measure Your Progress
Just as you can use goals to assess your life, you can use them to measure your progress towards achieving a desirable outcome. Measuring progress makes for infinitely more satisfying and achievable goals.
Once you’ve defined the short, medium, and long-term goals you want to work toward, map out the route you’ll take to get there. Insert milestones along that journey that you can mark off when you reach them.
For example, perhaps one of your goals is financial. Let’s say you want to pay off some credit card debt—and quickly. Create a payment plan specifying how much you’ll pay off each week. Then, you can use a debt payoff chart or fun coloring sheet to track your progress.
As you reach each milestone, offer yourself a small reward: perhaps dinner out with friends or a pampering session at the spa. This will motivate you to keep going!
Whether you have personal, financial, or career goals, they all work to push you towards your desired outcome.
Most of us suffer from procrastination, putting things off until tomorrow, or an undefined “later.” Goals help you understand that not getting started right away can be dangerous and lead to a downward spiral of never achieving anything.
Use the “destination” that goals give you to your advantage. Split your big goals into a series of easily achievable mini-goals. You’ll get the satisfaction of crossing them off your list, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving that big goal.
We get inspired by all kinds of things around us, and inspiration is different for everyone.
Perhaps a beautiful sunset at the beach inspires you to get outside more. Maybe reading a book or watching a TV show on archeology inspires you to go into that field of study. Did a supportive teacher help you see your innate drawing ability and encourage you to become an artist?
What if your inspiration could come from within? Setting realistic goals helps you inspire yourself to achieve the things you want to achieve. And that’s far more valuable and long-lasting than any outside influence.
And best of all, the process is self-fulfilling. Once you achieve one goal, you’ll be inspired to meet the next, and the next, and so on.
On that note, setting goals helps you achieve those goals and push yourself to ever more ambitious heights.
The first goals you set for yourself might be simple and relatively easy to achieve.
Read a page of a book a day. Cook your dinner every night instead of getting takeaway. Pay off your student loan earlier than expected.
Once you’ve achieved a few so-called easy goals and tasted victory, the process is demystified. It will seem simple to reach those loftier goals you once only considered dreams.
You never know; you might even inspire others around you, too. Seeing someone achieve their dreams is contagious!
What makes us happy? Science and research say things like:
- Being grateful for what we have
- Giving to others
- Fostering strong relationships
- Exercising regularly
- Leaving the past in the past
- Avoiding comparisons
- Eating well
And guess what helps you achieve all these things? That’s right, goals! You can set goals that directly or indirectly address all of the things in the list above.
The act of setting goals ensures you’re living the best life possible for you.
The Importance of Setting Goals Explained
If you’re keen to get your life on track, have more purpose in what you do, or simply gain more happiness, understanding the importance of setting goals will get you there.
By focusing on realistic and well-defined goals, you can achieve almost anything you set your mind to. So fight against procrastination and stasis with goal-setting today!
For more helpful life hacks and motivational advice, browse the other articles on our blog.