If you have the feeling that life is happening to you instead of for you, then goal setting is likely an issue. People viewed as successful did not arrive there by accident. Behind every success is a series of plans and goals which hard work and focus made achievable. The feeling of control over one’s life we all crave comes from knowing the direction we are heading. Creating and following through with a defined set of goals can provide vision, motivation, and purpose to life. 

Define goals that are meaningful for you 

Often in our professional careers, goals and expectations are provided for us. Whether it’s the number of sales, customer acquisition, or company expansion, businesses, like people, need plans and goals to achieve growth. But apart from the goals placed on you, there need to be different personal and professional goals pursued.

The most challenging part of defining your goals is the soul searching necessary to recognize the person you want to become. It’s easy to say, “I want a million dollars,” but knowing you want something is not the same as realizing why you want it. What can that million dollars afford you, and why is that important? Will it make you happy? Is it a small part of a larger sum, or does it deserve your sole focus?

The process of defining your goals is unique to everyone. Ask yourself what the word “success” means to you. These answers have aspects of family, friends, money, career, education, travel, and health. Search for a full alignment between your heart, mind, and body. If any part drags behind, it could cause the others to falter. Your goals are the ultimate definition of whom you’re choosing to become, so approach the process of defining them earnestly. 

Getting started with goal setting

Choosing and setting your goals is the first step in turning inaction into action. Start by brainstorming and putting everything down on paper. Let your ideas pour out. There’s no right or wrong answer at this stage. Remember, goals come in various shapes and sizes; some need to be lofty and out of reach, while some need to be realistic and accessible. Put another way, some should be near-term, mid-term, and long-term. 

Once you have something to work from, start whittling down your list into definable targets. Next, start laying actionable steps to meet these targets. A helpful approach to drafting a goal-based outline is to reverse engineer your goals. Once you know the objective you’re pursuing, tracing backward the steps and milestones helps visualize the path forward. 

Keep your goals in sight and on track.

Once you have a list of your goals and steps to achieve them, it’s time for the most challenging part: starting. It will likely feel daunting at first. The unknown can be a scary place. If the process feels uncomfortable, that’s good. It will feel uncomfortable because it’s taking you to a place you haven’t been to before. Harness any fear and uncertainty you’re feeling and use it as a motivating force. Remind yourself that nothing comes from idleness, so the action is the only answer. Eventually, taking action will feel normal, and you won’t give it a second thought. 

Stay accountable

Setting firm goals won’t mean much if you don’t keep yourself accountable. Accountability can be to yourself or others, but regardless of how you keep your motivation in check, accountability is necessary. To stay accountable, review your plan often. Everyone needs a regular reminder of what they’re driving towards and why. Track your accomplishments as they happen and perform weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly reviews. Make sure to keep your goals visible and accessible. Distractions always occur, so having a firm foundation to refer back to when needed can help immensely. 

Take time to celebrate wins, too, and congratulate yourself. It’s okay to recognize achievements and pat yourself on the back when reaching milestones. The journey of meeting your goals will begin molding you into a new person. The person you envisioned at the beginning of this process will slowly start to develop through the challenges and unexpected hardships you face. There will be roadblocks, but know that every roadblock overcome brings you closer to your defined endpoint.  

Continue to Achieve

The path to achieving one’s goals is a dynamic and fluid process. Plans may change along the way, and that’s okay. Goals are meant to give you a roadmap on your journey, not necessarily give you the shortest route. The road may be windy at times, but as long as you know where the path is leading, things will work out. 

One of the great things about goal setting is that it’s a never-ending process, which means that another will manifest itself once you’ve accomplished one goal. As long as you can keep the structure we’ve talked about, reaching new levels in your personal and professional life will continually happen.