Goal-setting is one of those tools that we most often view as being straight-forward. We set a goal, then we pursue it, and eventually we achieve it. Everyone knows that by achieving a goal, something important to you is accomplished and a whole new realm of possibilities open up. In this aspect, achieving a goal is multi-dimensional.
But what if there was more to the "setting" portion of a goal than we realize? In reality, the act of goal-setting can be just as important, if not more important, than achieving it.
Here are 11 overlooked elements to goal-setting that you will want to remember the next time you evaluate your goals.
1. Goal-setting doesn't have to start with a boring brainstorming session.
Sure, brainstorming is an important part of the goal-setting process, but it's not necessarily the first step. You should have a fairly deep understanding of yourself, your values, and your desires before sitting down and brainstorming goals. Take the time to learn and explore yourself first, which can be much more fun than writing a bunch of things down on a piece of paper.
2. Goals don't have to be these massive, super important, incredibly impactful things.
Most people like to dream big, and yes, that's a good thing. However, you don't always need to shoot for the moon or feel like a failure. Find joy in setting silly or simpler goals for yourself. A frequent goal I set for myself is to "make one person laugh today." It's simple. It brings me happiness. And it can make someone else's day. Don't forget about the little things.
3. Find your baseline.
Far too often, goal-setting is strictly about the future. A majorly overlooked part of choosing the right goals is having a firm understanding of where your life currently stands. If you're not in a good place to set a specific goal, then sometimes not setting it can be the right choice. Know yourself in the present and make the right calls for forging the best path forward.
4. Don't limit yourself.
Know that you are qualified to achieve any goal that you set. It doesn't matter how big or small your goal is. If you want it, set it, and learn about yourself along the way. If you're actively pursuing something, it means you have the desire to achieve it. Don't let any unnecessary limitations restrict your goal-setting.
5. Setting a goal doesn't mean you should become obsessed with it.
How many of us have become obsessed with a goal? We set a goal and then it's all we think about for a long while. This is honestly something I'm getting better at - enjoying the slow progress of pursuing a goal. After all, consistent progress is far better than sprinting and burning yourself out.
6. Setting goals should be fun and exciting.
If you aren't super stoked about pursuing one of your goals, then why did you set it in the first place? Say you want to run your own business someday, but you dread having to take the steps to get there. You might not be cut out for this specific goal - and sometimes that's perfectly okay. Yes, owning your own business is a lot of work, but you shouldn't hate everything you need to do to get there.
7. Goals can be put on hold if other things get in the way.
Let me say this again - goals can be put on hold if other things get in the way. It's totally fine and completely normal for life to happen. If something else comes up and you need to pause or redirect your goals, then use decision-making to make the right choice for you. A goal will still be there when you want to come back to it. Believe me, it's not going anywhere.
8. Goals don't have to start at the beginning of a year.
If you missed the boat on your New Year's Resolution, join the club. People often use "waiting until next year" as an excuse to put off their goals. They think that they'll be in a better place next year to set and achieve them. What they're really saying is "any time other than right now works for me." You don't have to wait for a specific time to set your goals. Just because you didn't set them at the beginning of the year doesn't mean you can't set them today.
9. Not all goals need to have strict deadlines.
The reason you set deadlines for your goals is to motivate you into taking action. This does not mean you should be unmotivated upon realizing the deadline might not be met. Giving up is not the right way to go about things. Instead, don't be discouraged and simply reschedule your deadline. You need to allow for some flexibility in life as well as in goal-setting.
10. Writing down your goals is a game-changer.
Everyone has thousands upon thousands of thoughts going on in their heads at any given time of day. If you don't write down your goals, they are competing with these other thoughts and distractions. Goals will undoubtedly become lost, vague, forgotten, or mixed up. Writing down your goals can have a powerful effect of making them permanent and tangible. After you write them down, you're also able to track your commitments to measure how many of them you actually keep.
11. Don't share your goals with everyone and anyone.
Know that sharing your goals with close friends and family can be a great way to keep yourself accountable. However, this also puts extra pressure on yourself to succeed or face embarrassment by not accomplishing them. Often times, the best thing you can do is keep the really important goals to yourself, find ways to stay accountable, and then share your stories of accomplishment after you've achieved your goals.