“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland
“You need a plan to build a house. To build a life, it is even more important to have a plan or goal.” – Zig Ziglar (More quotes on goal setting)
Do you set goals for yourself? What are your goals for the next 12 months? How about 3 years from now? 5 years? 10 years? What are your aspirations that you look toward coming true?
Goal setting is the first step toward successful goal achievement. It marks your first point toward success. It is what put your life into real action mode. Without this step, the other steps of goal achievement cannot take place.
Have you ever encountered people who have a passive approach toward life? They don’t set any goals and they just live life on a meandering, day-to-day basis. You see them 1 year, 3 years, 5 years from now, and their lives are largely the same, save for a few changes that are really more the result of others’ actions and desires rather than their own.
Below are 6 key reasons why setting goals is so important:
As the opening quote by Bill Copeland put it across very adeptly, if you don’t have a goal in life, you are spending your life running around and not achieving anything for yourself. You get the illusion that you are doing a lot of things, but they aren’t what you want. You are just busy fulfilling everyone’s goals. It can be the fast food industry enjoying your patronage because you’re lovin’ it, multi-billion dollar consumer goods companies securing your purchase because they convinced you that their haircare products with 76% frizz reduction is something you need, fashion houses getting you to buy their clothes because it makes you look cool, or you working in a job you don’t love because it is safe, secure and rakes in the dough.
How are you supposed to manifest what you want if you don’t even set concrete goals? How do you supposed to achieve your dreams and visions if you don’t clearly spell out the end output you desire?
Setting your goals gives you clarity on what you ultimately want. It makes you crystallize and articulate the desires floating in your mind. It ensures that you are channeling your time, energy and efforts into things that really matter to you. It makes you live more consciously.
Everything in this world is created twice: First – creation in your mind, followed by the manifestation in reality. Without the mental creation, there will be no physical creation. When you set a goal, you already accomplish the first creation. You have set into motion a decree for yourself and the forces of your universe to materialize the goal in the physical reality.
2. Drives You Forward
Your goals are a representation of your inner desires; desires which motivate you in life. The point when you set goals marks one the points when you are most connected with your source of motivation. It is when your motivation is at its peak. Having goals at your side serve as constant reminders of your motivational sources. They are the fuel which drive you forward and keep you going when the going gets tough.
If I ever experience moments where I lose motivation, I get into meditation mode and focus on some of my most important goals in life, including the goal to turn my personal development business into a full-time career. I will visualize the scenario with full mental clarity, as if it is happening in the now. When I do that, it’s like a clear connection is formed with my inner desires. The motivational energy suddenly surges through very readily and I channel this energy into my daily life and actions.
3. Gives You Laser Focus
Goals give you a single focal point to place your attention in. Whereas your purpose gives you a broad, directional focus to move your life in, goals gives you laser focus on what exactly to spend your time and energy on. Think of your time, energy and efforts as input, and results as the output. A goal acts as your funnel which guides and channels those inputs effectively into your desired output.
When you don’t have goals, you are floating around every day. Your energy is randomly dispersed in ad-hoc activities which you engage on whimsical basis. These are activities that play no role in your larger scope of life, but you are not aware of because you are just living life as it is. You end up mislabeling a lot of ‘nice-to-do’ activities as important. You might also be engaging in these ‘nice-to-do’ activities because you can’t think of a better way to spend your time. Do you find yourself surfing and chatting excessively? Busy running errands? Play a lot of games? Spend the bulk of your time being a workaholic? Spend the remaining time lazing and/or partying away? What’s your objective for doing them? What end output does it lead to? Is that the top priority in your life?
You may have a broad idea of what you want to do. But until you clearly articulate it out as specific goals, you are not channeling your efforts properly. You will often find yourself getting sidetracked because you don’t have goals to rein you in. It’s really quite easy to get swept away by the currents of everyday life, simply because there are so many stimulus out there in our environment. You may get the general overall impression that you are moving in the direction, but it is just an illusion that you are having. With no goals, you have no focus. Without this focus, your input is strewn around randomly to give you garbage output. That is, if you even get any semblance of an output at all.
4. Makes You Accountable
Having goals makes you accountable. Rather than just talking about what you want all the time and not do anything concrete about them, you are now obligated to take action. Setting a specific goal gives you clarity on whether you are living up against what you committed yourself to do when you first set your goal.
This accountability is accountability to yourself, not anyone else. This accountability is what you hold up to when you choose the healthy salad over that piece of fried chicken. It is what you answer to when you spent that hour working on your report rather than random web surfing. When you stay accountable toward your goals, you are in fact staying true to your desires (see point 1 above).
For my blog, one of the goals I set is the number of articles which I want to write every week. When I set such targets in place, I become accountable toward delivering against it. If I find myself falling short, I will take the necessary actions to turn the situation around. I examine how I have been spending my time and start prioritizing across my daily tasks. I cut out the Quadrant 4 tasks (time wasters) or activities that bear little to no relation to my goals. From this, I have reduced considerable time on my biggest time wasters, including chatting, random web surfing, constantly checking my mail/web stats, certain outings which are not as important compared to my writing goal.
5. Be The Best You Can Be
Goals help you achieve your highest potential. Without goals, you subject yourself to the natural, default set of actions that keep you feel safe and comfortable every day. But this familiarity is the nemesis of growth. It prevents you from growing. It does not enable you to become the best person you can be. It denies you from tapping into all that potential inside of you.
By setting goals, you set targets to strive against. These targets make you venture into new places, new contexts, new situations which puts you into growth mode. They make you stretch beyond your normal self and reach new heights. For example, setting a time limit for your run lets you know if you should be running faster. Setting a weight loss target makes you aware if your actions have been effective in losing weight. Setting a career goal ensures you are not settling for anything less than what you desire.
In my goal achievement processes, I have found myself constantly bursting through new grounds and uncovering potential which I did not know existed before. Without those goals, I would be taking the path of least resistance, just doing things within their natural constraints. Goals have made me face and overcome countless barriers to get to what’s on the other side. It has made me much more self aware and learn a lot more things about both myself and life, compared to if I did not have those goals.
6. Live Your Best Life
Goals ensure you get the best out of life, for two reasons.
Firstly, by becoming a better person, your new found knowledge and abilities let you experience more out of the same life events compared to the previous you. Think about how your worldview is different now vs the you 10 years ago. Do you see life with much more clarity, depth and perspective today than you were in the past? What may be a simple daily occurrence in the past holds a lot more meaning to the more highly evolved you today.
Secondly, time passes in our life, whether we want to or not. Goals with specific measures and deadlines ensure we are maximizing our output and experiences during our time here. If you have already discovered your life purpose, your goals will ensure you get the best out of your purpose.
Imagine you are driving a car. When you identify your purpose, you get clarity on the direction to travel in. However, without specifying an exact destination and time frame, there is no yardstick to benchmark your progress against. It wouldn’t make a difference whether you are whizzing at an amazing 140km/hour or a paltry 10km/hour since you never set a target. Goals ensure you are maximizing your life for all that it can offer you.
Start Setting Goals
Ask yourself this – What are my goals for the upcoming 1 year, 3 years, 5, 10 years?
If you are to take some time out to set your goals now, I can guarantee you that you will definitely experience more growth as a person. By just spending a few minutes to articulate some aspirations that have been in your mind, you will experience more progress in your life a year from now than compared to if you don’t.
Read the 7-part goal achievement series ESPER which shares what it takes to successfully achieve goals.
- Part 1: Goal Achievement: Introduction
- Part 2: ESPER
- Part 3: Establish
- Part 4: Strategy
- Part 5: Planning
- Part 6: Execution
- Part 7: Review
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