I used to equate setting goals with pain, so I didn’t do it (unless I had to). Not seeing the bigger picture, I’d actually feel pity for anyone that said they were putting time aside to do it. Shame! This changed in 2001 though when I started seeing goal setting more as an intention for my life, a sense of control and ownership towards my personal productivity. The ability to understand that while leaving things to chance, dreaming and hoping were all well and good, but that if I wanted something badly enough, I could actually make it happen, was way more empowering.
So, I started researching ways to set goals that didn’t necessarily involve an Excel spreadsheet, graphs and cross referenced colour coding. I searched for bigger picture thinking so that my goals could go beyond my working life and extend into every single aspect of what is me and my time. I dreamt without limitation, with the reckless abandon of a child not yet tainted by the reality of “can’t”. I used large sheets of paper, colour pastels, marker pens and highlighters. I mind mapped and journaled, and reflected and fantasised. Slowly I’ve become less interested in getting it perfect and more excited by getting it down; less stressed on how I’ll make it happen and more empowered by the possibilities that stand before me if I just step forward. Goal setting has become a part of my life. Like an amoeba it takes on its own shape. I’m not rigid or restrictive. How I do it changes, but come February, I always do it.
1. Personal productivity: Goals for life
These are sometimes the hardest to dream up but you can have the most fun playing in this head space.
Ask (and note down): If I was on my deathbed (no need to get morbid or soppy, you’ve had a great life and it’s time to move on) what would I have liked to have done/achieved/experienced that I haven’t already?
Think (but don’t be restricted by):
- Mental: Work, education
- Physical: Fitness, health, wellbeing
- Emotional: Travel, friends, family, me, anything materialistic
- Spiritual: Charity/give back, religion, spirituality
2. Personal productivity: Goals for the year
These are more tangible and possibly easier for you to define.
Ask (and write down): What have I done/achieved/experienced this year? (Note: I picture myself on a hammock strung between 2 palm trees on some exotic island sipping a pine colada … because I can!)
- What made me excited, proud, surprised? (in a good way)
3. Personal productivity: Goals for the day
These are the day to day actions that bring you closer to leading the life you dream of in points 1 and 2 above.
Ask (and write down): What on my to-do list brings me closer to fulfilling my goals?
Okay, so this is really just the start but it’s a big chunk of what goal setting is about andso that you know, just by writing your dreams down you’ve already increased your chances of actually achieving them by 20%. To increase that percentage though while boosting your personal productivity, spend a little more time on your goals for the year.
- Out of everything you’ve dreamed up, highlight the ones that are really most important to you, the non-negotiable.
- If you have a lot highlighted off and are feeling a tad overwhelmed, narrow it down further by deciding which of these dreams you’ll tackle in which quarter of the year.
- Looking only at the current quarter, list the first 3 actions you need to take for each of the dreams. Add these actions to your to-do list or schedule them in your diary.
- Keep repeating this process until you’ve achieved the goal.
- Move to the next quarter whenever you are ready.
Finally, it must be said that goals aren’t static. This is not a once-off exercise but something that becomes intrinsic to your life. As you change, you can expect your goals to change too. Keep it fun and do whatever it takes to step boldly into the direction of your dreams.
At Get Organised we enjoy playing to our strengths. Thank you Harri Marshall one of the GO senior team – trainer & consultant, for proof reading our posts.