HOW TO SET GOALS THAT REALLY COUNT
Goals are a useful way of setting our intention for the future and supporting us to create our best life. To help simplify the process, I’m sharing some tips and ideas on how to set goals that really count in the hope they might help you plan for the year ahead.
WHAT ARE GOALS?
Goals are specific targets or objectives that we identify and set out to achieve in a specific timescale.
They help us get clarity over our life now, where we’d like to be in the future and any changes that we might need to make along the way.
Goals are statements of intent to help us decide what we’d like to happen over time, broken down into little steps to help us make that happen.
Goals are one way of simplifying our busy lives and intentionally creating a life of purpose rather than drifting along on autopilot.
WHY ARE GOALS HELPFUL?
Here are a few of the benefits of setting goals and how goals can be helpful to keep you motivated and aligned with what you hope life will look like for you.
1. Goals help you achieve things
No matter what season of life you’re in or who you have in your life, if you want the best for your family and yourself then setting goals can be very helpful. Goals will help you create opportunities, learn new things, try out different experiences and show up for your life in the best and fullest way possible.
Goal-setting means you’re not willing to settle for a life that happens to you. Instead you might be ready to embrace and take on the challenges of life with an open heart, mind and arms and live to your full potential.
2. Goals stop you wasting time
It’s so easy for time to slip by when we’re caught up in the daily routine of life. We get hung up on our to-do lists and managing our schedule so that one day drifts into the next and the months slip by. We feel like we never have time or were always busy doing something else.
- Don’t put yourself in the position where you wish you’d done something differently. Don’t think about the ‘what if?’.
- Don’t regret what you’ve done, but even more importantly, don’t regret what you haven’t done.
Goals stop you getting too caught up the minute details of daily life and instead help you identify and prioritise what’s important to your bigger picture.
3. Goals help you set a direction for your life
If you don’t set goals then you might well still achieve a lot, but how can you be sure that what you’ll achieve is actually what you really wanted to achieve in life?
- With a bit of thought and planning, would you have chosen a different path in life?
- Could you have created a different set of opportunities or new direction for yourself?
- Did you just take what was on offer at the time because you weren’t looking further than what was right in front of you?
Setting goals helps you determine what YOU want out of life and take the necessary steps to get there.
You can decide what you want to make happen, when and how. You can set the direction for your life, rather than a life that just happens to you.
4. Goals help you be more accountable
If you don’t set goals, then you’ve no tangible record of what you’ve got planned for your life and your family. It won’t matter if you don’t get to where you wanted to go, or do what you wanted to do, because you never properly determined what your goals were going to be in the first place.
You probably didn’t write them down anywhere and you might not have told anyone else that you’ve set them. So, who would know if you didn’t achieve them? There’s no-one and nothing to hold you accountable, so you’re less likely to have the encouragement and motivation (that we all need from time to time) to achieve them.
Setting yourself clear goals and going through the goal-setting process creates a visual record of what you’d like to achieve and some helpful action-steps to help you do that.
You’ll know when you haven’t met your goal and (most importantly) why, so you can work out what needs to change in the future to help you achieve what you’d like to achieve.
5. Goals help you focus and prioritise
When you set goals you’re forcing yourself to think about your life and what’s most important to you. You determine your priorities, take an aerial view of your life and the little distractions and daily clutter falls away. If you don’t already know what you want from life, then setting goals will help you find out!
You’ll need to think about your life in its different stages. You look at the whole picture, from what you do day-to-day to the legacy that you leave behind at the end.
Goals encourage you to focus on what’s truly important and a priority to YOU.
HOW TO SET GOALS
The process you use to set goals is vital to making sure that the goals you set are realistic, achievable and in line with what you REALLY want. How you set goals is a personal choice but I’m sharing a few thoughts below that you might find helpful!
To get you started, here are a few things for you to think about…
THE GOAL-SETTING PROCESS
- Choose a quiet 20 minutes to sit down and reflect on what you want from life.
- Grab a notebook and pen and sketch out three sections – short term goals, medium term goals and long-term goals.
- Brainstorm where you want to be at each of these stages – what you want your life to look like and what you’d like to have achieved. Include as much detail as you can.
- Now look at each section in turn – think about your priorities for each section. In each of the 3 stages, what aspects stand out and what really matters to you?
- Write down your top five goals for each stage based on the priorities you identified above.
- Underneath each of these goals, list three action points per goal to break down exactly how you’re going to achieve these.
As you sit down to think about your goals, keep in mind the acronym S.M.A.R.T. to help you set goals that you’ll be more likely to keep to.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and achievable within a Time Frame. You can read more about 6 steps to setting S.M.A.R.T goals in this article by Tony Robbins.
HOW SHOULD YOU WRITE YOUR GOALS?
- Goals are things to set for yourself. You should start them with ‘I’ wherever possible. For example, I will …, I want …, I shall …
- Goals are statements that require you to take action. Try to use words that invoke positive action, for example, I am going to … or I will …, rather than ‘I hope … or I will try to …’
- Goals shouldn’t be based on other people or circumstances as you are only in control of your own decisions and choices, not those of other people. For example, ‘I will lose weight when my family eats healthier’. Change this to ‘I will lose weight by choosing healthy meal options for myself.’
- Goals usually have a specific timescale. Try to decide when you want to have completed your goal or a timeline for the different action points.
- And, of course, you should write down your goals so you have a visual record. Keeping them in your head means they could be forgotten about!
GOALS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
Now we’ve looked at the goal-setting process and why goals can support an intentional, simpler life, here are a few examples you could think about…
1. Goals for your body and mind
You probably have some, if not many, people relying on you. It’s vital that you stay strong – physically, emotionally and psychologically, to withstand the stresses and strains of life and you can be there for those who need you for as long as possible.
Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting goals that aren’t realistic or in line with your current life and commitments.
Choose to improve your body and mind in ways that you know you can carry on, even if it’s one baby step at a time. If you set unrealistic goals that are just too massive or far off, then you’re more likely to give up.
Here are some examples of goals you could set to benefit your body and mind (remember these are just ideas to get you thinking):
- To get fit so you can run a certain distance in a certain amount of time
- Losing XXX amount of weight in XXX timescale
- Walking XXX steps or distance per day
- Attending an evening class once a week
- Reading XXX books per month
- Taking up meditation and practicing this daily
2. Goals for your family
Goals are usually personal targets and objectives that don’t rely on anyone else being involved in their success. However, I believe that it’s possible for YOU to set goals for yourself that benefit and affect your whole family and loved ones.
Some examples could be:
- Trying to be more patient or calm with your children
- To stop shouting so much
- To implement strategies for everyone in your family to have less screen time
- To work towards a better work-life balance
- To find ways of spending more time together as a family
- To help your kids argue less and be kinder to each other
- To establish regular mealtimes where you can all sit down together to eat
Depending on the goals, you’ll need to think about what kind of timescale or measure of success you’re going to track your progress with. For example, if it’s to stop shouting so much – maybe you could try to stop shouting for 30 days in a row! Can you do it?!
These are just a few goals for your family that YOU can take the first step in implementing. Can you think of any others?
3. Goals for your home
Home is where the heart so why not start there!?
Think about ways you could declutter and streamline your home, run it on auto-pilot and free up your time and energy for working towards some other goals on your list for the coming year.
Here are some goals for your home that you could think about setting:
- Declutter your entire home – have a major clear-out, set yourself a timescale, and come up with an action plan
- Don’t buy anything new for your home that’s not essential for a set period of time
- Get rid of some of your excessive storage space and only keep what items will fit in the storage space you have kept hold of
- Set yourself a challenge to declutter one room or area of your home per month
- Get on top of your cleaning and household routines (and resolve to stick to them) to make maintaining your home quicker and easier
4. Goals for your finances
Setting goals for your personal finances depends very much on your personal situation. However, as we all need money to live, setting goals for your money management is something that most of us can benefit from. Here are some examples:
- Make a plan to become debt-free by a certain timescale
- Resolve to become more intentional about your shopping and spending habits
- Cut down or cut out credit cards and only spend what you have
- Create a monthly household budget and stick to it
- Set a target for putting aside a certain proportion of your household income each month into a savings account and watch it grow
5. Goals for your relationships
It’s so easy to forget prioritising our relationships when we’re busy with our own lives. Relationships come in lots of different shapes and sizes. So, here I’m talking about all your relationships. Your relationships with your children, your partner, your parents, your family, your friends, your work colleagues and so on.
Each different relationship requires something different from you, but they all need work (and some more than others!). Set yourself a goal to prioritise the main relationships in your life with action steps on how you’re going to work on them!
All the goals above are just examples I’ve brainstormed to help you understand the different areas of your life that could benefit if you set goals.
Remember that each goal you set will need to be in the form of a positive visual statement, with an actionable step and a definite timescale!
RESOURCES FOR INTENTIONAL LIVING AND GOAL-SETTING
If you’d like to explore intentional living and how to get the most out of your life, here are some resources which you might find helpful:
- 20 ways to simplify your life – ideas to create ease with less stress.
- Declutter Starter Kit – a free guide and workbook to help you understand the what, why and how of decluttering. Projects, tips and guidance to clear the clutter in your home and life.
- Your Intentional Life – a free 7-day email challenge to help define your priorities and begin your intentional living journey.
- Decluttering goals and why they’re important (+ free printable)
- Minimalist goals to simplify your life this year
- How to refresh your goals and why it matters for a simpler life