You know that goals are important. They help focus us, they give direction to our actions, and they allow us lead a more meaningful life. It’s important to have goals both in your personal and professional life – but they need to be done wisely.
Not clearly defining your goals – or being overly prescriptive – only sets you up for failure and disappointment. Instead, take these following tips to heart in order to best set yourself up for success.
Specify the timeline.
This step is absolutely critical, but it should never just be done on a whim. Instead, the timeline takes a lot of serious consideration of external influences. More often than not, the goals you set will be at least partially contingent on other people or circumstances out of your control. For example, if you want to build your dream house, you will be reliant on vendors, contractors, orders being fulfilled, paperwork, etc. Take all of the external influences into consideration in order to construct a realistic and achievable timeline.
Hold yourself accountable.
One big determining factor to whether or not a goal is achieved or not is if you share it with other people. On one hand, telling your boss about where you hope to be in the company in the next two years will help him or her be aware of your plans and let you know what is necessary or possible from their perspective. By the same token, letting friends and family know what you hope to achieve will help ensure that people are “checking in” on your progress and keeping you focused along the way.
Be flexible and opportunistic.
This is especially important for long-term goals. As we mentioned before, your goals will often be dependent on a bunch of different factors. None of these are static, and the variables that you consider when first setting your goals may very well change over the course of you working toward them. Make sure that you are always considering your external environment and whether there could possibly be a better way to do something than what you had initially thought. It’s also very possible that you’ll run into some hurdles along the way. Acknowledge when you’ve reached a dead-end and keep your eyes open for new opportunities.
Remember the difference between goals and objectives.
More often than not, you will hear these two terms used interchangeably. But that is a big mistake that can often do more harm than good. Goals are specific, measurable, and actionable things that you want to accomplish. Objectives are the individual steps you need to take, or boxes you need to check, in order to achieve that exact goal.
When it comes to making clear goals that you can actively work toward, first articulate exactly what it is that you need to accomplish, using the tips above. After that, think about the things that need to happen in order for you to reach this goal. By being clear about both your goals and the respective objectives, you will be more likely to accomplish your personal and professional goals.