Last posted on: 01/01/2015
Update: It has been almost a year since I've posted this, much have changed since then. I've polished up the content and added an additional step to reflect what I've learned this year. Nonetheless it is refreshing to read through this again.
Happy New Year!! It’s already year 2015, and I’m sure it will be another crazy year filled with adventures!
During New Year it’s very easy for us to get into the “New Year, New Me” mood; as if things are going to change for the better miraculously, or we’re going to magically gain the motivation to work towards our goals this year.
As we all know it, New Year Resolutions almost never works. I will not delve too deeply why, but you can find out more from this blog article I’ve read earlier here.
On the other hand, goal-setting is a prerequisite to succeed in almost anything in life. Goal-setting is vital getting yourself into flow state consistently. Hence it’s very crucial that we learn how to do it properly.
Instead I will write about goal-setting and how to do it properly. This is from a little book Introducing Neurolingustic Programming: A Practical Guide by Neil Shah. A very interesting read about NLP; although there are some weird things that I’m very skeptical about like ‘Meta Programs’ etc.
Nonetheless, it has an excellent chapter on goal-setting which I’ll briefly outline in this post, with a few modifications of my own, where you can immediately start applying.
It will just take a couple of minutes, but it’s definitely worth it
The Goal Setting Process
Grab yourself a piece of paper. Below I’ll outline the steps on the process of goal-setting:
1) Defining your goal and set priorities
The very first and most crucial step of goal-setting is of course, defining the goal and write it down! It can be anything ranging from some vague “I want to be smart” to something specific like “I will finish Chapter 3 of this textbook by this weekend”.
The key is to have a clear idea what you want to achieve. If you have multiple goals, prioritize them to have a better idea which is more important and urgent,
2) Find reasons and motivation as to why you want to achieve this goal
Before figuring what to do, take a moment and ask yourself these questions:
It will also be a good idea to watch motivational videos or listen to motivational music (Two Step from Hell and Hans Zimmer are some of my favorites to listen to for motivation).
Doing so will get yourself pumped and to motivated to go about achieving your goal.
3) Figure out an action plan
This step is the actual figuring out of what to do. This step is crucial but very often overlooked. One of the big reasons why New Year resolution never works is that it’s very easy to set lofty goals, but rarely do people sit down and really figure out what needs to be done to move towards the goal.
Make a list of things and lay out the steps that needs to be done in order to move closer to the goals. They must be achievable and sustainable. Make smaller goals that get you towards your bigger goals.
A 4-hour study marathon is achievable, but definitely not sustainable over long term. A daily 1-hour study session is a lot more achievable and sustainable.
Also understand that you'll need to gain momentum heading towards your goals, so it is a good idea start with something easy first and not too challenging first and gradually increase the difficulty.
4) Have contingency plans
Once you figured out an action plan, also understand that it’s very easy to picture ourselves having the willpower to always stick with it in the future.
There are times where we will feel unmotivated, lazy, coming out with excuses, or get stuck with procrastination. So come out with a few contingency plans when that happens.
For example, if you find yourself lacking motivation, start watching some motivational videos, or you can check out my post on how to snap out of procrastination if you’re having a lot of troubles with it.
5) Make a firm commitment to stick with it for a period of time.
So decide how long and often will you want to stick with it, and accept that it’s part of your life and think about how to balance it out.
Of course don’t set the period too long. This goal-setting process is not meant to be one-off, it is meant to be updated constantly. It’s a good idea to have a weekly or fortnightly goal update.
6) Take action now!
For the last step, start taking action now! Goal-setting is just laying out the path, now it’s time to take the first step towards your goal. If you can’t do a good job, then do a bad job and make mistakes; at least you’re taking action and gaining some momentum.
7) Review and update your goals frequently
Remember that goal setting is not something that is done once and you're on your way to your destination.
Very often something unexpected might come up and throw you off in achieving your goal, which happens all the time. Which is why frequently taking a step back to review and update your goal is important.
The reason for this is two-fold, firstly is to remind yourself of what you want to achieve, and secondly you can rethink the action plan needed to reflect current circumstances.
For example, if I want to keep fit and do well for exam, and exam is coming out in 2 weeks. I will prioritize studying, and just spend a little time in exercising to reflect the urgency of the upcoming exam.
Think of working towards your goals as tracking on a mountain, and goal-setting as climbing up to a vantage point and looking at your destination and figuring which direction to take to get there.
So that’s it for today, my simple 7-step goal-setting process. I hope you’ll start setting your goals, start working to achieve them and make the year 2015 an awesome year!