Whether you have big plans or small plans for the future, it’s important to set clear goals for yourself. If not, you might never accomplish anything. But it isn’t enough to say you want to achieve something. It might come as a surprise, but there’s a wrong and a right way to set goals.
Here’s a look at seven things you should know about setting goals.
1. Prioritize and Don't Overwhelm Yourself
You might have several plans for yourself, and you might set multiple goals. This is okay, but if you overwhelm yourself, you might not reach any of your goals. There's nothing wrong with thinking big and having high expectations for yourself. But it might help to prioritize and tackle just a few goals at a time. This way, you don't spread yourself too thin.
2. Give Yourself a Deadline
When setting goals for yourself, it also helps to give yourself a deadline. Just make sure it's a realistic deadline, or else you might become discouraged and give up. For example, if you want to pay off a $2,000 credit card balance, don't set a deadline of six months unless you're absolutely sure you have enough disposable income to pay off the debt within this time. If you only have $200 in disposable income every month, a deadline of 10 months is more realistic for paying of this debt.
3. Write down Your Goals
Have you ever heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind?” This could apply to anything in life, including goal setting. Many people say they want to accomplish something, but unless you write down your goals, you might forget about them after a few days or weeks. Write down and post your goals in plain view, maybe on a sticky note next to your computer.
4. Carry a Picture or a Reminder of Your Goal
Carrying a picture of your goal is another approach that can work. For example, I had a friend who wanted to buy a house. To make this happen, she had to pay off some debt and save up a down payment. To stay on track, she kept a small picture of a house in her wallet. Whenever she felt tempted to spend frivolously, she pulled out this picture to curb the temptation.
5. Give Yourself an Incentive
Believe it or not, but rewarding yourself can help you stick with a goal. This provides an incentive and gives you something to look forward to. The reward doesn't have to be expensive. It can be a cost-free activity or a cheap splurge, such as treating yourself out to dinner after you hit a milestone. If you set a goal of saving $3,000 in an emergency savings account, you might treat yourself to a low-cost splurge after every $500 you save.
6. Don’t Crumble after a Setback
You're going to experience setbacks, but don't let this discourage you. Pick yourself up and continue on the path. If you feel your plan of attack isn’t working, or that it’s taking too long to reach your goals, go back to the drawing board and come up with a different plan for achieving your goals.
7. Work in Harmony with Your Goals
Don’t self-sabotage. It’s important to work in harmony with your goals. For example, if you're trying to save money and pay off debt, you need to identify your triggers. Window-shopping or shopping with friends might tempt you to spend money you don’t have. Therefore, you should avoid these activities.
You have more power than you think, so it’s possible to accomplish anything you set your mind to. Can you offer other tips for setting goals?