Goal Setting Techniques

By this point, you have a general idea of what you are passionate about. If not, then it is a good idea to read the 100% Chance of Failure post too! Now, we will build upon those passions, providing guidelines for setting actionable goals.

A goal can be described simply as an aim or desired result. Examples of goals include going to medical school, learning how to play Fur Elise on the piano, and writing a blogpost about your summer experience. Goals come in different shapes and sizes, but they usually fall under one of these two umbrellas: long-term and short-term goals. Long-term goals are plans you make for the future, usually over a year from the present, while short-term goals are plans for the near future, less than a year from the present.

There is no hard and fast rule for which kind of goal to set. Although we suggest that you set long term goals and, based on your long-term plans, set short-term goals that would help you achieve your longer-term goals. An example of a long-term goal is to work at Google as a programmer. To achieve this goal, one must be a skilled programmer. So, the corresponding short-term goal could be to complete one programming project each week. I can imagine all the goals swimming through your excited brain, and we are excited to show you how to make those goals as SMART as possible.

The right goal should ideally have the following five characteristics.

  1. Specific: Your goal must be specific so that there are no blurred lines. Instead of saying: “I want to become a better dancer,” a more specific goal is: “I want to master the Nutcracker.”
  2. Measurable: You must quantify or qualify your goal so that you know when you have achieved it. An immeasurable goal is, “I want to master the Nutcracker.” How do you know when you have mastered the Nutcracker? Instead, you can use your ballet teacher’s 100-point ratings as a yardstick. Therefore, the modified goal is: “I want to master the Nutcracker enough to get 90 points 3 times in a row from my ballet teacher.”
  3. Achievable: Being aspirational is completely fine, but overambition makes the goal a little bit harder to achieve and can become discouraging. So, ensure that your goal is in line with your available resources and abilities. For example, “I want to master the Nutcracker enough to get 90 points 3 times in a row from my ballet teacher.” is a plausible goal if you have a ballet teacher and have basic knowledge in ballet or if you already had 70 points.
  4. Relevant: Your goals should matter to you and your other goals. This will help you ensure that you stay motivated while pursuing your goal. Learning the Nutcracker is relevant if you have a long-term goal related to being a great dancer.
  5. Time-bound: You should always set a time limit for your goal. This creates extra motivation since you have a deadline to work towards. Using our Nutcracker example, a time-bound goal is: “I want to master the Nutcracker enough to get 90 points 3 times in a row from my ballet teacher by April 30th, 2020.”

These five guidelines for goal setting ensure that any goals you set are realistic and aligned with your passion for optimum productivity. Furthermore, you don’t need to beat yourself up if you are having difficulty with or falling behind on your goals. The most important thing is to reassess your goals and begin working on them now! Quoting Roy T. Bennett, “Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals.”

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