Setting goals has gotten a bad rap in recent years. Much of this is due to evolutions in corporate culture. In our workplaces, many companies have abused the concept of goal setting and KPIs by making them too narrow and too rigid. As a result, employees are forced to optimize to a single number often at the expense of better answers for the employee and the company.
That’s unfortunate, because goal planning can be really fun and empowering when it comes to your own life. Such goals come without all the baggage of a corporate environment, and many studies have confirmed what we should all intuit: setting goals is the best way to get things done and improve your long-term happiness.
Mentally noting that you want to save money, eat healthy, and exercise more is a start, but there are many ways that you can get more out of setting goals. As such, here are ten ways that you can start to step up your game and achieve more:
- Make sure your goal is something you care about. This seems basic, but ask yourself “would I be upset if I didn’t do this?” If the answer is “yes,” then it is worth pursuing.
- Make the goal quantifiable! This can be tough but goals such as “eat healthy” or “run more” are easily subject to your own interpretations that make the goal easy to subvert. It may seem rigid, but the numbers won’t lie!
- Write them down! This seems basic, but research shows your likelihood of completing a goal goes up by about 30% as soon as the goal is written down.
- Track your progress regularly. If you said you are going to journal 30 minutes a week, you need to actually track if that’s done. The more detail the better: so track how many minutes you actually journaled for. It will help you set better goals as you move forward by using your past data
- Create short-term goals to start, THEN advance to longer-term goals. If you haven’t run before, it probably your first goal shouldn’t be to run 1,000 miles next year, or to run a marathon in 4 months. Maybe those get the headlines, maybe you can do it, but it’s much more likely that the goal will seem too intimidating and that you’ll never get started. If you haven’t run before, a better goal would be to run 2 times a week for four weeks. That’s quantifiable, achievable, and a positive first step! As that becomes easy, you can change your goal to more difficult goals. Once you are reliably running each week, you can look at setting month-long goals.
- Make goal setting a constant part of your life. This is hard because it takes time, but you should be looking each week at what goals you are doing well on, which one’s you aren’t, and which ones aren’t important to you any more. By tuning this constantly, you can keep prioritizing your life toward what matters to you.
- Share your goals with a close circle of friends and family. No, you don’t need to blast out to everyone on Facebook that you are going to take up running, or eat more healthy, or drink less. But you should tell someone! Studies show that selectively sharing your goals with 2–5 people significantly increases the likelihood of meeting them based on work in several academic studies.
- Team Up to Achieve More! Yes, personal goals are great, and help you achieve more. But humans are social creatures and powerfully motivated by social forces, so use them. Find some friends or family with similar goals and make a game out of it!
- Set goals for staying in touch with the people you care about. This may seem odd, but it is very easy for life to fly by and you’ll lose touch with people in the process. There’s no need to go overkill here and set a target for how many minutes you spend on the phone with mom, but you absolutely can set goals to send birthday notes to the 50 people you care about, or to reach out to one professional contact each week, or to contact each of your close friends at least once every three months.
- Do all this in one place. This is tough, but you don’t want to be tracking these things in five different apps, two Google docs, and an Excel sheet. Aside from being a pain in the butt, it makes it hard to prioritize between the goals and make the inevitable trade-offs between goals. Whether this is done on a sheet of paper, an Excel sheet, Notion, or a specialized app or service, put it there, use it regularly, and update it.
That’s all we have for you. If you haven’t set personal goals before, why not give it a try?