Every month, I like to set goals for myself in various areas of my life. The inspiration for this post came from my experience with my February goals last month. I was far too ambitious in my goal setting, and hence completed very few of my goals. This experience had a silver lining however because it taught me a few lessons about setting achievable goals, which I will share with you here.
How to set goals you will achieve
1. Set fewer, or smaller, goals
This is the most basic and fundamental point that I will share with you here. You are far more likely to complete your goals if you set a number that you truly believe you can complete! If you set too many, you are actually LESS inclined to work on them because a part of you doesn’t believe you will complete them all. This subconscious voice says, “I’m not going to complete all these goals anyway, so I won’t bother to do this difficult one”.
You need to get the right balance between your goals being challenging, yet realistically achievable. If in doubt, it is better to err on the side of setting too few goals. A good guideline is to set a small enough number of goals that you can easily recall them all in your head.
By setting fewer goals, the most important things can be prioritised, and are more likely to be completed, even if they are difficult. If you complete them before the end of the month, it’s okay because you will get a sense of achievement at having completed them in plenty of time. You can use the month-end to catch up on some other tasks, or you can choose to progress some of your goals further.
2. Set SMART goals
You may have heard of the acronym SMART in reference to goal setting before. It stands for:
Make sure your goals are worded clearly and specifically. For example, rather than setting the goal ‘do more cleaning’, you could set several specific goals including ‘clean the bathroom’, ‘organise the kitchen cupboards’ and ‘change and wash all the bedding’. This way, you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
A measurable goal is one that is obvious when it has been completed. For example, if you set the goal, ‘do more reading’, it’s hard to know just how much reading you need to do to have fulfilled the goal. Instead, you could set the goal ‘read 3 books’ because then you know exactly when you can tick that one off!
As already discussed earlier, make sure your goals are realistic and achievable!
Make sure your goals are relevant to your life at this time. Don’t just choose any goal just because it sounds good. Make sure it’s something you want to do, are prepared to do, and will be useful and beneficial to you.
This means setting a deadline or timescale for completing your goals. For me, it is usually a month, although I do set some yearly goals. Having a timescale really helps with motivation and makes it easier to keep track of your progress.
Related post: Setting ‘Micro Tasks’ for Improved Productivity
3. Take existing commitments into account
When setting goals, it is important to take into account how busy your month is expected to be. If you already have a lot of commitments in your diary, set fewer goals. If your diary is practically empty, set more!
4. Allow for spontaneity
Part of the reason that I didn’t complete many goals last month is that I didn’t allow time for spontaneity. If I had spent all of my free time working on my goals, I probably could have completed all of them. However, some other activities and opportunities arose in my life that I didn’t foresee at the beginning of February.
Having the freedom to explore such activities is a good thing. Therefore it’s better to set fewer goals so that there is still time for spontaneous activities.
Related post: Ways I have Organised my Time Over the Years
5. Realise that some things are more important than your goals.
Controversially, this advice will not help you achieve all your goals. In fact, quite the contrary! But the point is, there are certain circumstances you might find yourself in where you have a choice between taking an action towards completing a goal or taking a different action that sabotages your goal but may actually be more beneficial to you. Here’s an example:
One of my February goals was to go to bed by 12 every night. One evening, I was having a great time playing games online with one of my best friends, and it was approaching midnight. I could have stopped and gone to bed, but I chose to carry on playing until around 1 am because we were both having such a good time. I have no regrets, and I believe I made the right decision because fun and friendship are more important than sticking 100% to this goal.
In summary, it’s great if you can complete all of your goals perfectly, but it’s also important to be open to how life unfolds, and willing to sacrifice a goal if it means you can achieve or enjoy something even better in its place!
I hope these tips help you to set goals you WILL achieve
Do you regularly set goals for yourself? If so, do you usually achieve them? Do you have any more advice on how to set goals you will achieve? Let me know in the comments!