I have been writing down my goals since May 2013 when I was up to my eyeballs in debt. I started with just one financial goal – to get out of debt – and set a deadline to complete this goal by. I made it my absolute priority, created this blog and shared my story along with my debt repayment plan. It was then time to start working towards achieving my goal. Long story short, I reached debt freedom in just 18 months and one year ahead of the deadline I set for myself to accomplish this goal by. With that, my life has changed forever.
I have been setting and writing down my goals ever since. I find that words are more powerful on paper than they are in my mind. I also find that having your goals written down sets things into motion. Without a doubt, goal setting is a great strategy to get things done.
Below are the steps I take to set my goals and create a game plan – always in writing.
IDENTIFY YOUR GOALS
Find some time to sit down in peace and quiet to think about your life and what you want out of it. Think about what you want to achieve in life, and where you see yourself in a few years’ time. Think about the changes that you need to make to get to where you want to be. Once you have a vision, write it down. Ensure this is what you really want. This is important because you will be putting a lot of effort into achieving your goal – you have to want it! Once you have written down your goals, categorise them. I usually divide mine into personal, financial and professional.
PRIORITISE YOUR GOALS
Look through your list of goals and prioritise them. Assign the importance and urgency to your goals and choose the ones that you know you need (or want) to start working on today. Concentrate on the goals that are more important and map out a plan for each one of them. Once this is done, set a deadline for your goals but remember to be realistic. This is important because having unrealistic expectations may lead to big disappointments. However, ensure you are out of your comfort zone – you want to push and challenge yourself.
When I first mapped out a plan to get out of debt and set a deadline to accomplish this goal by, my aim was to put a pretty high amount towards my debt every month. I knew I would have to work for it and push my limits. You may want to do the same, so ensure your goal is challenging enough.
REVIEW YOUR GOALS
Now that you have started working towards achieving your goals, it is important to review them once in a while. If you are setting annual goals, you may want to have a review every three or four months. Take out that piece of paper with your written goals (or open a document on your computer where you have your goals written down) and look through them. Are you making any progress? Are you on track to reaching your goals on time? If you are falling behind with your goal and are afraid you will not be able to achieve it on time, move your deadline to a later date. There is nothing wrong with this – it is better to reach it later than get discouraged and not reach it at all!
CELEBRATE YOUR WINS
Your journey to achieving your goals may take a while. It can be a year or even 10 years. It is important to stay motivated and determined to succeed. This is why it is imperative to celebrate every milestone. When you know there is a small prize waiting for you on your way, chances are you will keep at it and not give up. You do want that prize, don’t you?
I celebrated pretty much every milestone. I would treat myself by going out for dinner with a friend or buying something nice. Everyone deserves a little break every now and again, do not be too hard on yourself.
KEEP YOUR GOALS IN MIND
If you feel like you are losing sight of your goal, get that piece of paper out and remind yourself how much you want to succeed. Go back to visualising – it is a very powerful technique that should be used often, almost daily. Think about your goal in the morning when you open your eyes, and imagine what your life will be like when you achieve it. You can practise this technique a few times a day.
Many people create vision boards these days – give it a try if you like this idea. You can also create a Pinterest board and start pinning the images that represent your goal and inspire you. Whatever you do, do not give up. Have faith in yourself – you can do it!
Nowadays it is easy to get overwhelmed by everything that is going on in our lives’ and lose sight of what is really important. Every now and again it is essential to stop what you are doing and look around.
Setting and writing down your goals can change your life. This strategy creates a clearer vision of what you want out of life and enables you to keep an eye on your progress by frequently revisiting your goals and making adjustments if necessary. Having a goal set up and written down will motivate you, make you stronger and push you to do better and eventually succeed.