My Ides series focuses on common pitfalls in self improvement and how to avoid them. It’s February, and according to Statistic Brain, the majority of people have already failed to achieve their New Year's Resolutions. So it’s a good time to talk about setting overly ambitious goals and how to set more realistic ones. I am an avid goal-setter and so are many of my friends. We can feed off each other and lead us to set bigger and grander goals. And we like to set them with lists: 30 before 30, 40 before 40, 18 before 2018. But these lists can become overly ambitious very quickly. Too many unattainable goals can lead to burn out and lose of motivation.
So when you’re setting your next set of goals, be it your New Years Resolutions or your 19 before 2019, now is a great time to look over what you’re thinking and ask yourself a few key questions:
1. Is this specific?
This is by far the most important part of goal setting. Goals need to be specific. Often people make amorphous goals: “write a blog”. Since these goals aren’t specific, you can never accomplish them. Having amorphous goal can be disheartening because you can never quite get there. Clearly define your goals, your goals should be attainable tasks: “Launch a blog”.
2. Is this measurable?
Now that your goal is specific, it’s important to put a measurable value to the goal: “write 10 blog posts”. Again, this allows you to see when you’ve accomplished the goal, and that is really important to being able to feel accomplished. Feeling accomplished encourages you to continue setting and achieving goals.
3. Is this time dependent?
Give yourself a time limit. That sense of urgency will help encourage you to actually work on your goals, not just give lip service to them. “Launch a blog by November”.
4. Does this goal coincide with your values?
We are now in the part of the list that considers if the goal is a good one for you. You could write a list of specific, measurable, and time dependent goals, but if they don’t match your core values, you won’t work on them. Additionally, reevaluate your goals regularly. It’s amazing how much your desires can change. If a goal no longer matches your values or the direction you want to take your life, then say goodbye to it.
5. Can I actually do this?
Now that you have a well-written goal that coincides with your core values, you need to make sure it’s reasonable on your current list. It is important to be honest with yourself on what you are able to achieve in the short term. Maybe this goal is best suited for a lifetime goal as opposed to a 19 Before 2019 goal. Additionally, when you are making a list of goals, make sure you can finish all the goals. The individual goals may each be good, but together they might be too much.
6. How will I celebrate?
Finally, and most important (to me), you need to give yourself a reward for accomplishing your goals. It can be simple like buying your favorite dessert or complicated like going on a vacation. But that feedback once you've accomplished something will set you up for success on the next round of goals.
Goal setting is easy, making quality goals takes a little more work. I’m making my 19 before 2019 list right now. It’s important that I not be too ambitious or I won’t be able to accomplish my entire list. Are you going to make a 19 before 2019 list? What types of goals are you working on this year?