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The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

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The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Whenever you have to step out of your comfort zone, finding reasons not to is a natural response. Learn to fight that. You either find a reason to do the job or an excuse for not doing it. 

Get obsessed, totally obsessed. There is no just liking what you do, get obsessed with it.  Stand up and do what you want! Don’t be lazy! Don’t hesitate! Don’t let fear stop you from achieving your goals! Life is what you make of it – might sound cliche, but this is the ultimate truth.

Because in the end, the worst regrets are of things you didn’t do, experiences you didn’t have, and chances you didn’t take. Let go of people, things, situations, and habits that hold you back.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

– Tony Robbins

Now, arises the question- how to set a goal? You might be at a juncture in life where you feel you’ve achieved everything, so there are no more goals to attain. But there’s always more to achieve. Wouldn’t you feel charged up when you have something concrete to accomplish?

Or, you might fall in the league of underachievers- people riddled with self-doubt, who are not expected to achieve much- floating through life directionless, rudderless? If so, it’s time to surprise everyone, including you. 

Are you afraid of setting a goal for yourself? Are you setting yourself for disappointment and guilt? It’s not so. Life gives us umpteen chances to change; every day is a new opportunity. Goals can be changed and realigned.  Here’s the ultimate guide to setting a goal that will help you live the life you want.

Set a Goal That YOU Really Want

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

All our lives, we are conditioned to make sacrifices, to take into account the wishes of those who are close to us, to be considerate. Thinking about what you want is considered selfish. Some people don’t even have the liberty to choose their college major because their parents choose it for them. This results in people not being happy with their lives. Most people go through life not realizing that they hold the key to change in their hands.

Again we come to the point about self-realization. Eliminate what’s not important from your goal list. Experiment with different goals to find the ones that make you happy. Prioritize goals based on their importance in your life. Then, pick the top goal, determine its timeline and action plan. Voila, you have your goal!

Make Small, Iterative Goals

Big goals can be intimidating and have the power to have an adverse effect on you. Do not stop yourself from setting big goals. Instead, push yourself to set bigger and difficult goals but break it down into workable chunks. This makes the big thing not look that huge, and gives you an achievable viewpoint to conquering the said goal.

“Most impossible goals can be met simply by breaking them down into bite size chunks, writing them down, believing them and going full speed ahead as if they were routine.”

-Don Lancaster

Instead of making yearly resolutions, have a monthly goal and revise it for the next month. For instance, target to lose 5 pounds in a month. Work hard to achieve this and once you have your strategy spot-on, iterate to a larger goal for the next month.

Share Your Goals

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

Confess your goals to people you trust. Beware, telling the wrong people about your ambitious plans can act as a deterrent in reaching your goal. They will criticize or pull you down if you waver or fail, demotivating you. Your well-wishers will support you completely, gently remind you if you get diverted, and empathize if you are unable to attain your goal.

This also helps because people will help you hold yourself accountable to your goals while this also gives you an opportunity to find people with goals similar to yours.

Savor the Journey

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

-Jim Rohn

Goals should not become an albatross around your neck. They should not overwhelm you. The key to enjoying your journey towards your goal is to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goals.

Reward Yourself

Enjoy the fruits of your success. You need not be too critical of yourself. At the same time, don’t cut yourself too much slack. Set short-term goals, pat your back when you achieve them, strive for a bigger goal, and reward yourself, even more, when you reach the touchpoint.

Keep Yourself on Track

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

When the temptation to procrastinate or to abandon your goal strikes, ask yourself some hard questions. Find out why you’re pulling back from the goal. If there’s an actionable way to solve the problem, take action. Even if you can’t find any answers, find a way to remain on track. While it’s okay to take a breather when you feel down and out, too much of a break can lead to complete delineation from your goal and you’ll find yourself back from where you started.

Self-Affirm

Think positively about your goals. It’s not entirely a falsity that when you visualize vividly about something, the whole universe starts conspiring to make it possible. Self affirmation primes you for success.

Measure Your Success

Find ways of measuring your success. This is easier said than done. For goals that equate to emotional, social or psychological success, it becomes quite hard to calibrate how far you’ve reached. If you’re generally satisfied with results, you can term your goal setting exercise a winner.

View Failure as Opportunity

The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

The final piece of advice is to view setbacks as learning opportunities. You need to learn to change your mindset if you see failure as an end. Failure is very important for us to grow. It gives us experiences and lessons that cannot be learned in any other way.

When you fail, you need to get back up, dust yourself, and keep going. Assess what went wrong and why, then restructure your strategy, and start afresh. Failure is nothing but success turned inside out. It will humble you and make you stronger. 

Final Thoughts

Give yourself a chance to explore your talents and achieve what you have always wanted. Have a goal. Have a plan. Have difficult targets. It’s okay if you fail – what isn’t okay is giving up because you failed once. Stop trying to find reasons for not doing something, instead start looking for reasons to do it. 

Excuses are cowards way out – they are the reason you stay in your comfort zone forever. They give you a false sense of security. Life is an adventure. Live like it.

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

-Steve Jobs

Goals

Key Principles Of Living A Good Life

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Everyone wants to live a good life and one that is filled with happiness and peace. But the first order of business is to understand what constitutes a good life. A good life is generally the result of right decisions and your character decides what decisions you make on a regular basis. Only after understanding the behaviors a person needs to adopt to improve one’s character, can they truly achieve peace, happiness, and a changed life. In this post, we will look at a few key principles that contribute to a good life.

Have Values

The key principle to having a good life is having good values. With good values, you will have lived life well. You might not have ‘enjoyed’ it, but it will be, at the end, worth it. Since the subject of discussion is how to live a good life, we’ll not focus on how to be happy. The distinction must be made and understood.

For example, when you feel like having junk food, the value of staying healthy prevents you from getting obese as well as contracting related diseases. Often, feelings come in contradiction to values, however, keeping up good values ensures long term fulfillment and even success in life.

Select good values and live accordingly to have a positive impact on yourself, your family, community and the world at large. Prosperity and fulfillment comes with living a life of good values.

“Almost everything wrong in the world comes from people either not having higher moral values or not living by them.” –Dennis Prager

Don’t Be Too Serious About Everything

If you have such a habit, then you should definitely try to stop being serious all the time and lighten up. Having a serious approach towards everything will strip your life of any fun. The first step in removing such tendencies is to understand why you fail to enjoy the things in life. Have you always been serious since childhood or were there events that pushed your humor out?

If any specific traumatic event resulted in your serious outlook towards life, then you need to consult a good psychiatrist who can help you overcome such negative psychological patterns. Another way would be to change your perspective and start seeing the world in its entirety (or at least other angles) rather than only focusing on yourself. When you truly realize that you are nothing but a tiny speck in the vast universe, you will feel more relaxed and will start taking things lightly.

After all, we are only here for a couple of decades at most, and then we got to move on. This is the truth that faces everyone on the planet. So, it’s up to you to make the ride a bit more worthwhile.

Be Okay With Your Fears

Every person has some kind of fear deep inside them. And the greater you are bound by them, the less you will be able to live a good life. Fear influences every decision and blocks you out from experiencing things that could have brought you so much happiness. For example, suppose that some tragic event in the past has made you afraid of being abandoned by a loved one. As a result, you might be scared of getting too close to someone since you do not want to take the chance of being emotionally crushed in case they decide to leave you.

But this behavior will essentially destroy any chances of you ever entering into a loving relationship. This is why it is necessary to deal with your fear straight away. You don’t have to conquer it if it seems impossible. But, at least try to develop your mind to the extent that you are okay with living with your fear. Accept that such a fear exists and take a strong decision that you will not let it dictate the course of your life. This should help you get out from the grip of your fears and allow you to live a life that is fulfilling.

Don’t Hold Yourself To Impossible Standards

Many people hold themselves to very high standards. And this can eventually play havoc in their lives as they remain consistently dissatisfied with never meeting their standards all through their life. If you have such issues, then try to set realistic standards. For example, if you are a student of a college, you might feel like you need to get A grade in every subject. While the standard that you set is admirable, one has to also accept that it can be impossible on a consistent basis.

Sometimes, you might come across a test that is just too difficult to crack that you have to settle for a B. Don’t get disheartened in such situations and start blaming yourself for not having prepared enough. Forgive yourself; unnecessarily being depressed about the results will simply do you no good.

Forgive And Move On

There might be occasions in your life where other people will harm you and cause tremendous psychological damage. As a result, it is very likely that you will develop a very negative worldview about everything. This may also lead you to depression or you may feel the need for vengeance. This will certainly make you bitter and hateful.

If you keep this hatred inside you for too long, your life itself might end up being consumed by it so much so that you would be avoiding opportunities for happiness. You may also be afraid to open up and enter into a relationship with other people since you don’t want to be hurt again. What you need to do, under such circumstances, is to learn to forgive – not the person who hurt you, but yourself.

Tell yourself that whatever happened has happened in the past and that you should not destroy your future by constantly dwelling on past events. Slowly, you will learn to live normally and be in a position to move on to newer experiences. The person who hurt you will never again be a constant source of hatred in your mind. Instead, they will become a lesson that will teach you what type of people to avoid in the future.

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and hoping the other guy will die.”

Don’t Be Afraid Of Rejection

Many people never live their life to the fullest because of a big fear – rejection. This fear can manifest itself in all walks of life and can truly limit your experiences.

Maybe you love someone, but do not wish to open your heart to them because you are afraid of being rejected. Maybe you have an incredible idea on how to grow a company but are afraid that your ideas may be rejected and mocked upon. Whatever the case may be, you need to understand that this fear of rejection is not good.

It’s also important to understand that being rejected is a normal part of life. After all, not everyone will agree with everything you have to say. As such, just go ahead with your feelings and ideas, and see all rejections as just the way life is. Doing so will open yourself to new opportunities and you will be able to live a better life. 

A cure for this is to speak your mind even in difficult circumstances. This trains you and your mind to speak in more sensitive situations as well.

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How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

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How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

Prioritization is the key to achieving your goals. It helps you focus on what is important. While talking about how to prioritize your tasks to help you achieve all your goals, I briefly touched what you should do if everything seems like a priority – 

If you find yourself with more than three top priorities, then that’s a problem. It means you haven’t figured out what tasks are more important. Figure out which ones can wait until later. If all of the tasks are of same nature making them equally important, then that means you need to cut out some tasks, you might have taken on more than you can handle.

Having a laser-like focus on only a handful of things is essential here so that you can have only the tasks that matter the most on your list.

Most of us struggle with this. Prioritizing is not easy if you don’t know how to differentiate actual priority from the task that seems like one. Even if everything on your plate is supposed to be equally important, you will still need to find a way to break down which ones you should be spending your time on.

How we slice up our time and what we dedicate our time to often dictates what direction our life is going to take. The first question one has to get past is whether or not everything really is of equal importance – when you start questioning is when you will start looking for ways to deal with the problem the question possesses.

Dealing with Conflicting Priorities

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

When you are trying to deal with your personal and professional life at the same time, the tasks together can become more daunting. We face multiple demands on our time every day because of that. 

In the professional scene, often the tasks that are urgent override the schedule, resulting in loss of control and inattention to priority tasks. So how should priorities be determined? 

To begin with, ask questions. 

Let’s take an example. Suppose you are in your office. You have a project that needs to be done today. A colleague comes by and asks you to help with something that is also urgent and needs to be done by the afternoon. Now, you didn’t say “no” because that might be rude. You have an urgent task that is not your priority and you have your own project that is a priority but not as urgent as this other task.

Ask questions to yourself – 

  • Is taking this additional work going to affect your workflow?
  • Do you want to do this?
  • Is this stressing you out or causing you anxiety?
  • Are you stretching yourself too thin trying to be helpful?
  • Can this work be done by someone else?

If the answer to even of these questions is “Yes” then we move on to the next part, that is, learning to drop the task because it is not a priority.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”

-Stephen Covey

What Do You Do? The Art of Saying “No”

Everyone considers their project to be the most important and wants information or action immediately, they won’t always be considerate of your work. All most people care about is getting their work done. If you have trouble saying “no” chances are that your work will keep suffering. How to deal with this? 

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

Even though you feel bad about not being able to help your colleague, it is okay. You have to put your work first. Of course, special circumstances do demand changing your priorities but most often than not saying “no” will immediately put the dilemma to rest.

If multiple people are involved in your project, find out where your piece fits into the overall project. Taking charge of your space and your time will allow you to focus on what is important, meet deadlines and minimize job and personal stress, this starts with learning to say “no.”

Why Writing Down Your Tasks Help

We have a scientific term to explain why writing down goals helps. It is called the generation effect. What it basically means is that you remember information more when you have generated it with your own mind than when you have read it. There’s no one specific answer to why it happens but a lot of studies have been conducted on it, and this phenomenon is used in quite a few things. 

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

You must have heard people say “Goals that are not written down are just wishes.” You can dream or talk about it all you want, but until you write it down on a piece of paper, it remains a half-hearted attempt – nothing more than a wish. 

Another thing and an important one at that, is encoding. Our memory has the ability to encode, store, and recall information. By writing your goals down, you are storing it externally by putting it on paper. Now, by visiting it again and again, we are encoding it into our brains. There are few intensively used types of encoding. Two types are at work here, Visual encoding and Elaborative encoding. I have discussed all of this in detail when I talked about why writing down goals can help you achieve them faster.

Basically how it works is that we write something and that can be visual encoding, looking at that, again and again, evokes the feelings associated with that task, the reason of it, if you may. That is elaborative encoding, this is how priority kicks in. The elaborative part helps us associate reasons behind the task and the consequences associated with it, and in turn, its correlation with our ultimate goals.

This eventually helps us only pick out priority labeled tasks to make us more productive and efficient.

Spending Your Time Right

How to Prioritize When Everything Seems Important

Most people generally panic when they have to tackle their tasks by priority because everything feels important. When everything looks like a priority, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is difficult to skillfully juggle multiple priorities and competing responsibilities at the same time. There are times when you have to manage the workload at the office as well as home. 

What we often fail to keep in mind when handling multiple activities is to prioritize them according to their importance. Many people just try to handle various activities as per their instinct and end up never doing the important things. Later, they might blame it on ‘not having enough time’, which obviously is untrue. You have enough time, you just have to start spending it right.

If you don’t know what your priority is, you will never have enough time to get your work done. As Laura Vanderkam says, “Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.”

Final Thoughts

Prioritizing your to-do list is very simple if you learn to differentiate between your actual priority and what feels like a priority. Learning to say “no” to whatever is hindering your chances of success is the next big thing. If you learn these two things, you are pretty much sorted. All there is left to do is employ strategies to actually get the work done.

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How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

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How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

A few days ago I discussed why prioritizing your tasks was a much-needed aspect when it came to achieving success. I have always believed that knowing what is important to you will help you focus your energy in the right things.

“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.”

-Russian Proverb

Once you have realized that not every task is equally important and they can be put off, for the time being, you can get to schedule only the tasks that are on your priority list. The problem arises when you cannot determine which task is more important.

One of the questions that help you make sense of prioritization is, “Will this task take me closer to my goal?” The most important tasks are the ones that move you closer to achieving your long term goals.

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

Prioritization helps you have a plan that will push you to focus your time and energy on the right things. It will also help you ensure that your work is done, deadlines are met, and stress is minimized.

Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed by a situation or the number of things that need to be done, that’s when your priorities need to be reordered so that you can get things done that bring you closer to your actual goal. At the end of the day, everything boils down to your ultimate goal.  

Nobody’s life is ever all balanced – doesn’t matter if it seems like that to you – everyone has a different set of problems. It’s a conscious decision to choose your priorities every day so that you can keep making progress each day.

The Magic of To-Do Lists

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

“Schedule your priorities.”

-Stephen Covey

To-do lists are really helpful in putting the things that need to be done into perspective. Take the list further by adding additional attributes. You can prioritize tasks in the list itself. If you use an app or digital file, it becomes easier. If you use the old pen-paper method, then you can either rewrite the list after prioritizing the tasks or you can use highlighters or page-markers. Here’s how you can prioritize your tasks.

  • Make a list of all the tasks that you need to do.
  • For bigger tasks, identify individual tasks that will help you complete the project. The breaking of big tasks should be small enough to be completed in a few days or a few hours. 
  • Identify due dates – long-range, midrange, due next month or next week.

Now that you have the list complete. You will have everything laid out in front of you. This will help you make an informed decision without forgetting any tasks. With brain dump out of the way, you can focus on prioritizing the tasks.

  • Assign priorities to each task, from most urgent to not very important – use A, B, C, etc., to designate levels of importance. 
  • After you have decided the priority of your tasks, rank each task within the level using a secondary designation, such as A-1, A-2, A-3 – this can be used for sub-tasks.

You must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, most people often spend their time and energy on what is urgent than what is important. This might get you from one point to another in the short-term but in long-term it will get you nowhere. The next step is that you must do what’s important first which is called priority.

Over time, I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything. When we understand this, it becomes easier to understand what actually matters and what you are doing just because. 

There are many tools provided online to make planning even more detailed yet easier. Tasks can be flagged with contact details of people involved and reminders of upcoming events, due dates, and meetings. You can also make to-do lists, assign due dates, set reminders, schedule meetings, etc.

“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels.”

-Laura Vanderkam

Start and end your day with your “to-do” list – check off what you finished and review the remaining tasks at night and in the morning go through the list once to see what all you need to do. Do not constantly reprioritize the list, as it can quickly become an excuse for procrastination and will leave you confused as to what you are supposed to do.

What if Every Task Seems Like a Priority?

How to Prioritize Your Tasks to Help You Achieve All Your Goals

“When you have too many top priorities, you effectively have no top priorities.”

-Stephen Covey

If you find yourself with more than three top priorities, then that’s a problem. It means you haven’t figured out what tasks are more important. Figure out which ones can wait until later. If all of the tasks are of same nature making them equally important, then that means you need to cut out some tasks, you might have taken on more than you can handle.

Having a laser-like focus on only a handful of things is essential here so that you can have only the tasks that matter the most on your list.

Final Thoughts

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good’.”

-Stephen Covey

To achieve success, to complete your goal, to chase your dream with your all – it is really important to learn how to prioritize. There will always be a plethora of things you want to do or you feel like you need to do, but they will never all be at the same level priority wise. 

You need to learn to teach yourself to decide on what is important and stick to doing that – this is the key to finishing things that are high on your list.

Prioritizing allows you to identify the most important tasks at any moment and dedicate the limited time and resources you have accordingly.

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