What are your goals for next year? Where would you like to be at this time next year? What would you like to have accomplished in the next three years?
How do you feel when you are asked questions like that?
When I was younger I would feel incredibly annoyed whenever anyone asked me those questions — and they were rather frequent! Like how the heck would I know what I was doing in 5 years time?! Let alone next year? And why was the need to set goals so important when I can do whatever, whenever I want?
Having gone through a couple of years in my early 20s just existing from one day to another, I’ve finally recognised the importance of having goals.
Having been planning my life goals for a few years already, I’ve come to really appreciate how useful the process is.
Here are the top five reasons why setting goals is so useful and important:
Keeps you focused and ensures you procrastinate less
Imagine doing this — you walk to the bus stop in the morning. A bus — any bus — comes along and you just hop on it without caring to see the route it’s taking or the destination it’s headed to. You ride on it for 15 minutes and then you get off at wherever it was stopping at.
Did that make sense?
Well, that’s exactly what it means to have no goals. With the absence of an end destination or target, your journey there is absolutely random and haphazard — just like taking a bus to anywhere.
Having a goal means knowing to focus your energy and effort on goal-related activities.
You won’t be distracted by unrelated tasks. Goals give you direction, it’s akin to a location pin on a Google Map. When you know where you are going and your current state in relation to the goal, the chances of you procrastinating are reduced.
Keeps you on track
Goals are a yardstick for measuring your progress.
When you have an end-goal, say, writing a 15,000 word essay by Friday, you are able to tell very quickly how far you are currently from your end-goal. So if it’s already Thursday and you’re only at 1500 words, you know you are in trouble. You are able to tell quite quickly how much more work you need to put in to get to the end.
Keeps you accountable
Goals give you a sense of responsibility.
For instance, in working towards your 15,000 word essay, you plan to write 3000 words each day for five days. This mini goal will stick in the back of your mind until you are done with it.
Our brains have a way of constantly reminding us of incomplete tasks and keeping us accountable til the end.
Goals provide inspiration and motivation.
They are what keep us going til the end. When the chips are down, when we feel drained or want to give up; a goal gives us that little push to keep going til we reach our destination.
Goals can keep you on your toes by forcing you to either make use of what you already know to accomplish them. Or, they challenge you to go beyond what you already know, to get out of your comfort zone.
That forces you to seek out new information and skills to meet the “requirements” of your goal. Some organizations practice this by introducing “stretch assignments”
Along the way you might stumble or face problems you’ve never encountered before, you will probably have to navigate uncomfortable situations. The process of seeking solutions to those problems and overcoming them are valuable life lessons.
What is your goal-setting process?
And does it work for you? Does your process set you up for success or are you constantly not achieving your targets?
I personally use a ? step process to goal-setting:
- Brainstorm key goals in different areas of my life (career, personal finances, reading etc)
- Writing a long list under each area. I just braindump as much as I want without thinking too much about each item
- Separating them into short-term vs long-term goals
- Breaking that down into daily, weekly, monthly goals with a timeline attached
There are many different approaches to goal-setting and we all differ. For instance, some people might prefer weekly to monthly goal-setting. Others plan their months according to themes. It’s whatever works for you.
With all that in mind, what goals are you setting for yourself today?