Setting Goals – Planning Ahead for 2023

Setting Goals – Planning Ahead for 2023

Celebrating the New Year symbolizes a fresh start, new beginnings, a chance to re-set and prioritize for 2023.  As this time approaches, it’s important to establish goals and strategies that can help ensure success.  

Goals are the first step towards planning for the future and play a fundamental role in the development of skills in various facets of life, from work to relationships and everything in between. They are the target to which the proverbial arrow is pointed. 

Understanding the importance of goals and the techniques involved in setting achievable goals paves the way for success in a career, personal health, and overall well-being in general.

In the words of Pablo Picasso, “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

When setting goals (whether personal or professional), it is important to make sure they’re SMARTSpecific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

What are SMART goals?

Specific – The goal should be clear and specific, otherwise it’s difficult to focus on it. The more specific the goal, the better.

Measurable – The goal should be tracked, and progress should be measured.  This helps determine if the goal is being achieved.

Achievable – The goal should be achievable. If the goal is too ambitious, it may cause discouragement and result in not achieving the goal.

Realistic – The goal should be realistic and something that can be achieved. If the goal is unrealistic, it makes it harder to achieve it.

Timely – The goal should have a set timeframe for completion.

So, once you have the concepts in place, the next step is learning how the goals are achieved.   According to Just Plan Books’ blog, following these tips help to ensure success when accomplishing goals:

  1. Be specific: Vague goals are more difficult to achieve than specific ones.  When setting a goal, be as specific as possible. For example, instead of setting a goal to “write for 30 minutes,” set a goal to “write for 30 minutes a day for six months.”
  2. Write your goals down. This will help to remember them and keep them at the forefront.
  3. Set deadlines: Giving a deadline helps to stay on track and encourages motivation to achieve the goal.
  4. Plan: Once the goal is decided, set a deadline, it’s time to plan the course of action. This could include things like joining a gym, hiring a personal trainer, or cutting out processed foods from a diet.
  5. Tell others about your goal: Telling other people about the goal will help with accountability and being able to achieve it.  Consider recruiting the help of a friend, colleague, or family member to help stay on track.

One example is the goal to write for 30 minutes a day for six months – it could be a journal or other type of writing. A SMART goal would be to write for 30 minutes a day for six months. This goal is specific (write for 30 minutes daily), measurable (track progress with a chart), achievable (it’s possible to write 30 minutes a day), realistic (a great way to reflect and recharge) and has a set timeframe (six months).

Why do some people perform better on tasks than others? According to Ryan (1970), if individuals are equal in ability and knowledge, then the cause must be motivational.  The theory states that the simplest and most direct motivational explanation of why some people perform better than others is due to disparate performance goals, implying that setting and adjusting goals can significantly impact performance.

Why Is Goal Setting Important?

Initially, research conducted by Locke & Latham (1990), into goal setting attempted to ascertain how the level of intended achievement (goal) is related to the actual level of achievement (performance) in an organizational setting.

Goal setting increases employee motivation and organizational commitment (Latham, 2004). Additionally, goals affect the intensity of one’s actions and emotions. The more difficult and valued a goal is, the more intense efforts will be to attain it, and the more success we experience following achievement (Latham & Locke, 2006).

Through the experience of success and the positive emotions that accompany it, confidence and belief in our own abilities grow. Schunk (1985) found that participation in goal setting encourages a search for new strategies to aid success. Finding novel ways to utilize our skills and push our abilities increases task-relevant knowledge while enhancing self-efficacy and self-confidence. 

Goals are Like a Garden

Our lives are like rose bushes. As a rose bush grows, it creates more buds than it can sustain. When speaking to an experienced gardener, a word of advice is that rose bushes need to be pruned to bring out the best in both their appearance and their performance. In other words, if to get a rose bush to thrive, it is important to cut away some of the good buds so the great ones can fully blossom.

Our goals are similar. They need to be consistently pruned and trimmed down. It’s natural for new goals to come into our lives and to get excited about new opportunities—just like it’s natural for a rose bush to add new buds. If we can muster the courage to prune away a few of our goals, then we create the space we need for the remaining goals to fully blossom. Full growth and optimal living require pruning.

When using these tips, the SMART goals set forth will increase the chances of success.