The Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting

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Setting goals is one of the fundamental tools that we all need to progress in our journey to becoming the best versions of ourselves that we can be. Goals are important stepping stones for us whether we are working on our personal lives or professional lives.

There are many different techniques for goal setting. Some are great and some are not so great. This article is meant to help you determine how to set goals that will actually help you become a person that can do anything that you set your mind to.

You will have to try different strategies to figure out what works for you. There is no “one size fits all” approach with goal setting, but understanding how to adjust your strategy will help you create goals that you will crush.

At the end of this page, you will find links to all of the articles that I’ve written about goal setting. This guide is designed to help you determine what works best for you, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other strategies out there. If you run across one that you’d like to share then I’d love to hear about it!

What is goal setting?

Put very simply, goal setting is creating an objective that you are trying to achieve, but there is so much more to it than the definition.

Goal setting is a strategic way to measure yourself. It is motivating. It is fun. It can be the one thing that helps you stay on track when you aren’t sure where to go. Setting goals will help you measure your progress against who you used to be. It’s an easy way to keep track of where you’ve been and where you’re going. There are some systems for setting goals that work better than others.

One of the keys to becoming the best version of yourself that you can be is to keep a scoreboard. Well, what better scoreboard than checking goals of your list as you achieve them?

Categories for setting goals

Some people have different opinions on all the categories of your life that should have goals, but for me it is broken down into 6 pillars of happiness and success.

1. Family

2. Friends

3. Finances

4. Fun

5. Health

6. Work

All 6 of these categories work together to create your best chance at leading a fulfilling life. If you let one of them slip, it can affect the others. If you put one above the rest, then you might fall behind in one or more of the rest of the categories.

It’s important to have a why for each of these categories as well. Your why will act as your guiding light when setting goals.

Short term vs. long term goals

I wrote an article on this very subject. You can find it here.

In summary, long term goals and short term goals work together to help you create your best life.

Short term goals are typically pretty readily available for you to achieve. You will have to work to get to them, but it won’t take long and you won’t have to develop systems for them

Long term goals will take some time. You might have to build systems or develop other resources to complete them. They can be pretty abstract or totally defined based upon what it is that you are trying to achieve.

Setting goals that work

Have a burning focus

As much as we like to think we are good at multitasking, we just aren’t. Us human beings are at our best when we are focused on one thing at a time.

Once you understand what drives you, you will be wanting to make goals all the time. The problem is, we really need to try to focus on just a few goals at a time. 20 goals end up becoming more detrimental to us than good.

Forcing yourself to focus on 5 goals at a time will help to assure your success.

Warren Buffet’s goal setting strategy is surprisingly simple. It is broken into 3 steps.

  1. Write down a list of 25 goals that you would like to achieve.
  2. Circle the top 5 goals.
  3. Avoid the 20 that you didn’t circle at all costs.

Warren sees the 20 goals that you didn’t circle as nothing but distractions. You will be able to have a fighting chance at achieving the 5 that you circled, because they will be your priority.

5 Advantages of goal setting

Advantages of goal setting

1. You will understand who you truly are.

Your goals are a representation of you. If you have been searching for a purpose in your life, then just sit down and write some goals. It will be come clear pretty quickly what the most important things in life are to you.

2. They help map out your path.

Imagine taking off for a road trip without a destination in mind. Sure, it might be fun to be spontaneous, but how will you know when you’ve reached your destination? The thrill of spontaneity might be a wonderful thing a trip with friends, but it is not going to work out so well if you are wandering through life without a destination in mind.

3. Decision making becomes much easier.

Remember Warren Buffets 20/5 rule from above? You end up with 5 goals that are more important to you than anything else in life. Even if you don’t follow his method, you will still have a handful of goals that are helping you along your path to become the best version of yourself. These goals are meant to make decision making easier for you. Does what you are doing align with your goals? If not, then stop doing it. Does what you’re spending your time on help you reach your goals? If not, then stop doing it. I could go on all day, but I think you get the picture!

4. Goals keep you active.

It’s a whole lot easier to sit back and binge watch Netflix or Disney + than it is to work. You will not be fulfilled or satisfied as a person if you do that every day though. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wasting your time with distractions, but it’s incredibly hard to get anything meaningful out of life when you’re distracted all the time. A major benefit of having real goals written out for yourself is to give you a reason to push to become better.

5. We become more creative.

We fall in a trap of doing the same thing day after day. Habits are wonderful things if we have built good habits for ourselves, but they can be tremendously difficult to overcome if they are standing in the way of our progress. One of the great things about having goals is that they will force you to become creative to break bad habits so that you can accomplish the goals that you have for yourself.

Disadvantages of having goals

I only covered 5 advantages of creating goals for yourself, even though there are so many more. There are far less disadvantages, but I feel like I need to discuss the major ones that I come across on a daily basis.

Goals can create unwanted stress and anxiety.

If you’re just getting started on your journey then this one may not make a lot of sense to you right now. I can tell you from first hand experience that sometimes having goals can create a lot of stress for yourself. You can fall into the trap of feeling like if you aren’t reaching your goals fast enough then you aren’t doing enough.

That is hardly ever the truth though. As you progress on your personal development journey, your goals will become more difficult to achieve, but you will be creating new processes to achieve everything that you’ve ever dreamed of.

The key is to learn to focus on the process rather than the outcome. So what if it takes you 10 times longer to reach than you thought, as long as you do the things every day that you need to do then eventually you will get there. Course correct as needed, but try stick to the path that you are creating yourself.

You can end up being too hard on yourself.

The most important thing in personal development is to be better than you were yesterday. It’s that simple. Do a little more today than you did yesterday.

Don’t get caught up in beating yourself up for not reaching your goals fast enough. Just do a little more today. Make just a hair of progress today and you’ve done something that you should be proud of yourself for. Don’t beat yourself up for not achieving goals you set for yourself.

Checking the scoreboard

How often should you be updating your goals and checking your progress? Well, I try to at least check my progress every day. It really only takes a minute or two.

Updating doesn’t have to be done so often. Updating as you check things off the list and replace those goals with new ones is enough. Another reason to update your goals is to change them if something has caused you to course correct. Sometimes we set goals for ourselves that don’t end up being exactly what we thought they’d be and it’s important to understand that we can change our goals if we need to.

Checking in on your goals every day will not only keep them at the top of your mind, but it will also give you a good chance to analyze if what you’re doing every day is helping you get to where you want to go.

Articles about setting goals

Here is a roundup of all the articles that I’ve written on goal setting. This list will be updated as I add more!

Before you set goals, you must understand what is driving you. That’s why I recommend starting with your whys and going from there.

Career goals: 6 Examples and How to Create your Own

Short Term and Long Term Goals: The Ultimate Success Plan

SMART Goals: What They are and Where to Start

The Secret to Taking Action and Achieving Your Goals

Wrapping it up

This article was written to give an overview of goal setting. For more detail on how to set goals and what kind of goals you should set, check out the other articles in the goal setting category.

Goals are an important piece of your personal development journey, and daily progress towards those goals is what you should be striving for. Just be a little better today than you were yesterday and you will succeed!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions on this article. Feel free to reach out to me at preston@progressninja.com as well!

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