The 4 Elements of Effective Goal Setting

It’s fair to guess that all of us have wishes, dreams, hopes, and goals. Often the things we place in this category are elusive, far-flung ideas. Over time, they might even seem beyond our reach—mythical, like forest sprites and unicorns. It’s easy to doubt we’ll ever see them.

We can all quote the phrase: A goal is just a wish until you write it down. Yet, if pen and paper are the elixir that turns wishes into goals, why is it that you can find so many unreached goals floating around on scraps of paper?

The reason is simple. Writing a wish on paper doesn’t really make it a goal. There is a lot more to it than that.

If you want to set powerful goals that will change your life, you need to plan them properly. Goals that make a difference are supported by your governing values. They’re clearly and specifically written. They’re measurable, and attainable. Let’s look at each part of effective goal planning and discuss why it’s important.

1.Effective Goals Are Supported by Your Governing Values

First, let’s talk about your governing values. For many people, family and children are a top priority because family is rooted in so many governing values—love, service, and meaningful relationships to name only a few. Parents teach, provide, support, and encourage, their children to reach their full potential because doing so is part of their core beliefs. Your core beliefs and governing values are interrelated, and they influence everything you do in every role you play.

What do you value most? What drives you? Those things that motivate you are rooted in your values, such as: Honor, Integrity, Love, service, and so on. You may also love the outdoors, excel in art, and enjoy travel. Your list of personal motivators can get long, but take a moment and write them all in your planner. Over time you’re likely to discover more things that you value, so allow room for your list to grow.

What would happen if any of those things were gone and you were no longer able to enjoy them? How would that affect you? Now consider your list again. Out of everything on your list, what are the things you could not live without? Are there items on your list that you’d sacrifice the rest of your list to keep? List those priority items separately in your planner and ponder them closely, because that list is rooted in your core beliefs. Those items will lead you to discover your governing values.

If your goals are aligned with your governing values, you’ll be far more likely to complete them. Why? Because they are linked to your core—they truly matter to you. And that’s the key—your core beliefs are unique to you. If you set a goal based on another person’s core beliefs, you’ll struggle to find the desire to work at it. If you do complete a goal based on someone else’s values, you won’t have the same sense of satisfaction you’ll get when you accomplish something that truly matters to you. Set goals that matter.

2. Effective Goals Are Clearly and Specifically Written

Even when your goals are linked to your core beliefs and written on paper, they still may be difficult to reach if they aren’t clear. If you have a small home-based business that you want to grow, simply writing, “grow my business,” on paper isn’t going to be enough. Your goal needs to be specific.

Instead, break your general goals into smaller, more specific actions that you can complete in a short amount of time. Create or update your website. Learn how to photograph products for the web. Test a new offer against your current best performer. The more specific your goal, the better your chances are of completing it.

After you’ve written your specific goal, write the core value that governs that action beside it or above it. This can serve as motivation to keep you moving ahead.

3. Effective Goals are Measurable and Have Specific Deadlines

Set a date. Tasking yourself to create a website is great, but without a deadline, you have no starting point. Your specific goal will continue to elude you until you pin a date to it. If you want to shoot portraits of graduating high school seniors, you’ll want to have a website they can visit months before they graduate. Your goal might be, “I’ll complete my website on or before February 21st.”

Once you have an end goal, you can plan backward from there. Determine how long it will take for you to find a website platform that fits your needs, gather images, write copy, organize each page, and ensure it is all running well. Set specific deadlines for each of these steps to ensure you reach the end of your goal when you planned you would.

After you’ve written your goal and set dates to complete each step in the process, schedule each step in your planner on your Prioritized Daily Task List. Because this goal is grounded in your core values, you’ll label this as a “Priority A” task, and start working on it right away.

4. Effective Goals are Personal and Attainable

Even if your goals are based on your core values and no one else’s, and written specifically, with start dates and completion dates, you may still struggle if they aren’t realistic. Your goals need to be personal and built around your unique abilities and interests. Be sure your skill set and personality are suited for your goals. Be sure you schedule your activities appropriately around the rest of your priorities.

Speaking of keeping your goals personal, make sure your goal is for you and not for someone else. If you set a goal to teach your child to play the piano, for example, focus your goal on your teaching efforts and not on your child’s success. The actions of other people are not within our control.

Even your smallest goal can be segmented into bite-sized pieces. The more you break your goal down and schedule the steps into your daily plans, the easier it will be to attain.

Sure, a goal is just a fantasy until you write it down. But writing alone is nothing more than the stuff of storybooks—unless you do it right. If you follow these steps carefully, we can promise you’ll see great success.

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