Plan and set your goals

Planning and setting goals is one of the most important things you can do to ensure success in life. If done correctly, it will reflect a priority list of what’s important to you and how you plan to achieve it. It is a built-in confidence booster and proof that you have achieved what you conceived.

If you take the time early in life to set long-term goals in areas of your life such as finances, career, family, artistic, sports and helping others, you can remain on course no matter what life throws at you in the way of roadblocks and detours.

In practice, goal setting is a exercise in setting life goals and then breaking them down into five year goals, one year goals, six month goals and one month goals. Finally you will have a list of Tasks for Today.

As you go through each level, take the time to prioritize them so you will know what’s most important to you. Sometimes the prioritization process will surprise you. You may find out that something you thought was important to you keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list. At that point, it might be wise to stop and ask yourself why you’re not anxious to get started on accomplishing this goal. Maybe you’re afraid of not succeeding; maybe you’re afraid of succeeding. Either way, re-prioritize your list or discard one or more of the goals and move on. Nothing says that your goals can’t change over time.

You will also want to be sure that the goals are YOUR goals; not those of your family or your spouse or the community in which you live. There is no pleasure in accomplishing something which you really didn’t want to do in the first place.

Review your goals regularly. Some people set aside 2 hours each month to go over their list, make any changes necessary and set up the daily tasks they want to accomplish.

When you are setting your goals, there are some tips to remember. You should be precise about the goal you want to achieve and about the time frame in which it is to be done. Say “I will visit the Great Wall of China in 2008” rather than “I’d like to go to China someday.”

Make your goals realistic. They should be neither too difficult to accomplish, nor too easy. The goal that makes you stretch just a little bit outside of your comfort zone is the best goal. When you accomplish the goal that you had to work for, you will not only feel the enjoyment of reaching the goal; you will be strengthened in your knowledge that you can also accomplish the next goal that you set for yourself. Don’t say “I’m going to fly like a bird.” Say instead “This year I’m going to learn to hang glide.”

Set goals based on performance, not on the outcome. Outcome goals are often beyond your control. Goals based on your personal performance are those which you can track, adjust, and accomplish. It can be very discouraging to set a goal which cannot be met because either you have no control over the outcome, or bad luck, or bad weather intervened. Say “I’m going to improve my sales record by 5% over last month”, rather than “I’m going to have the best sales record in the division.”

Planning and setting goals is a great way to stay focused on what you want out of life.

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