12 Jan

Goal Setting – where do you start?


Goal setting, are you tired of hearing about it?  At this time of year there is a mountain of resources on how to set and achieve your goals for the year.  Over the years I have tried many different approaches some things have worked and others haven’t.  Here is my list of what I find works best for me, maybe it will help you as well.

  1. Be very clear about why you want to achieve the goal in the first place. Why do you want to lose 5kg? If it is because you think you should, you probably won’t achieve it.  But if it is because you have a special event coming up and you want to fit into a particular outfit, you have every chance of reaching that goal.  Goal setting works when you are very clear about the why.
  2. Are you really sure you want to achieve this goal? This comes from Peter Shallard, the Shrink for Entrepreneurs. Let’s say you decide you are going to double the size of your business.  Sounds great, think of all the extra money you will have.  But to achieve that goal, you will have to put in long hours, be away from your family in the evenings and deal with all the other stress that comes with growing a business. Your unconscious mind will slam on the brakes if it thinks there is pain in your future and you are likely to self-sabotage and procrastinate.  The prime directive of our unconscious mind is to move us away from pain towards pleasure, so be clear that your goal is in your best interest.
  3. Where are you starting from? Take a ‘before’ photo of yourself, or work out your personal balance sheet so you can clearly define the starting point.  Then as you progress towards your goal, you can see how far you have come.
  4. Before you do your planning for this year, review last year. Look at both what you achieved (so you can keep doing more of it) as well as what you didn’t.  If a strategy didn’t work last year, it isn’t likely to work this year either so think of a new one!
  5. Working towards your goal means other areas of your life will be affected. If you haven’t thought about the impact on your family and friends, you may fall at the first hurdle.  For example, you set a goal to run a marathon.  Don’t underestimate the commitment to training that the goal requires.  It may mean that the regular Saturday brunch with your partner will have to go on hold for the duration.  Are they prepared to sacrifice that so you can achieve your goal?
  6. Are you in control of your goal? Do you have the skills and resources, or do you know where you can get them to achieve the goal?  Your goals need to be within your responsibility and control, not dependent on someone or something else happening first.
  7. How will you know when you have achieved the goal? This may sound obvious, but it is something that gets missed often in goal setting. Where are you going to be when you achieve the goal?  Who is going to be with you?  What will you do to celebrate?  I find numbers work really well for me, whether it is body measurements, or a profit and loss report.  Once I see the numbers on a piece of paper that is when I know I have achieved the goal.
  8. What are some of the other benefits of achieving the goal? What else will it enable you to do?  For example, you lost the 5kg and looked amazing at the school reunion.  But you also have more energy so you have joined the local sports club and have a whole new circle of friends. Think of all the benefits and the things that you will and will not be able to do as a result of achieving this goal.
  9. Determine the first step towards the goal so you can get into action straight away.

Work through the questions and do a first draft of your big picture goal that covers everything you can think of, it may seem a bit jumbled and repetitive.  As you refine it, stay focused on writing in the first person, in the future as if you have achieved the goal and you are looking backwards.  Keep at it until you have a clear picture that touches all your senses of what life will be like in 12 months’ time when you have achieved what you set out to do.

Then the really hard work begins, there is no point in painting a lovely picture of where you will be in twelve months from now if you don’t put an implementation plan in place….. that is a whole different story for another day.

If you would like to know more about setting and implementing your financial goals, feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]