Goal Setting Tips

We all make goals every day, whether we realize it or not. Goals get us out of bed in the morning and define the direction of our day and, ultimately, our lives. Being intentional about our goals can help us make sure we are living according to our personal values and dreams. But, as we all know, setting a goal and actually achieving it are two very different things that do not always connect. Below are some tips for how you can set goals effectively to improve your chances of living the life you’ve always wanted:

1. Know your why.

You will be more committed to your goals if you know exactly why it’s important for you to achieve it. Your why needs to be important enough to you that you are willing to pay the price to earn it. Defining your why will bring your goal to life. First, you have to find out what your why is:

■ Ask yourself what you would do with your life if you knew you could not fail, if money was not an issue, and all your perceived barriers were gone.

■ Decide what you value most in life, whether it’s your family, your religion, or your free time. Make sure your goals include and enhance your most important values.

■ Once you’ve picked a goal, write a paragraph describing all the reasons why you are committed to it. Write how you would feel and what would be better about your life if you reached it, and what you would lose if you didn’t.

2. Make smart and challenging goals.

Many people have heard of the acronym SMART goals. For a goal to be SMART it must be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-targeted. While these standards are important, studies have shown that it’s also important for goals to be challenging. When people are told to “do their best” in achieving their goals, they do not perform as well as when they are expected to meet a challenging standard. Your goals need to be outside of your comfort zone, something that will motivate you to push yourself beyond your current limits.

3. Find a mentor and accountability partner.

Studies have also shown that people are most likely to achieve their goals when they are provided positive, constructive feedback on their progress. Feedback is more effective when it is focused on behaviors and strategies rather than outcomes. It’s also important that feedback be tailored to the individual’s needs and be a two-way communication process. A goal shouldn’t be something that was thrust on you by your mentor, but something you are committed to achieve for yourself. Your mentor is there to motivate you, hold you accountable, and help you evaluate how well you’re doing and what you need to improve to reach your goal.

4. Believe in yourself.

It’s been found that selfefficacy is important for keeping someone committed to their goals. Self-efficacy is defined as the belief that one has the capability or the power to produce an effect or, in this case, the belief you have that you can achieve your goals. Self-efficacy is not the same thing as self-esteem. People can be confident in their own self-worth and therefore have selfesteem, without believing that they have what it takes to reach their goal. Self-efficacy is required to be able to work through failures and setbacks and still believe that your goal is in sight.

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