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How to set goals

03 March 2020

1)      Goal select rather than goal set.

2)      Establish your system.

3)      Ensure your environment supports you to achieve.

4)      Regularly count, measure and track your process.

How to put the 4 steps into action

There are a few tricks to put the 4 steps into action and succeed for the long term.

1)      When you think about setting goals are you usually swamped in minutes. The tip is to eliminate the competition: focus on selection of goals rather than goal setting. Two or three goals at most. The process goals or system for achieving your outcomes will be more numerate.

2)      Establishing your system means thinking through the process driving you toward your outcome and formulating step by step goals – the when, where, how and how nots, for example.

These are your process goals. In other words, the system you are going to use to get to the outcome. Ask yourself: how am I going to get there; what do I have to do and, to reach my goal, what do I have to give up? What are the why, when, where questions with which I need to deal.

A generalised example can help. Just fill in your own details: “What will I do for how long and over what time period to achieve an outcome that supports/leads me to reach my major goal.”

How to create new habits

Yoking a new habit to an old one or discarding an old habit and replacing it with a new one can help set up a daily pattern. This then cements habits oriented toward your final goal into your daily routine.

For example: “Before or after [a particular daily activity], I will [do the new thing].”

Why range setting is important

Set yourself a range: “I want to reach [number] by [time period] but not more than [number]. The numbers need to be sustainable, achievable and realistic and are probably going to be a minimum and a maximum. Range setting helps you aspire to do more but doesn’t leave you feeling let down if you don’t.

The top tip is to start. This really is the best advice. Just getting up and being there is a positive.

Now, let’s return to steps 3 and 4 for a bit more detail.

3)      What is a supportive environment and how do I make sure I have it?

Think about all the things you need to be on your side if you are to start and achieve your goals. These make up your environment and could include, people, work, the weather, mindset.

Your environment must support you if you are to begin the process, perform and achieve your outcome.

4)      Measure your success and celebrate in easy, simple steps. Counting, tracking and measuring are ways to reflect on what you are doing. It will help you understand your successes and failures and learn what works and what doesn’t. In many ways looking back over a period will help you see your progress so you can set a valid reason to celebrate. Looking forward and setting milestones is ok but if you don’t meet them it can be disheartening. As you progress and meet more and more of your goals then setting forward milestones makes sense.

Measures and tracking goals are needed to check you’re on target and achieving what you want and when. Performance goals keep you honest, but most importantly, you need them for motivation.

In the end

If you don’t have a system and the checks and balances of performance, it’s easy to see why many goal setting exercises fail to reach their outcome. You can’t achieve outcomes without process. They are interdependent.

Think of the ‘outcome’ as setting your direction, while the process provides a system to get you there and the performance keeps you on track to meet the system and achieve the result you want.

Goals for the New Year might include healthy eating, weight loss and exercise. Get specific, celebrate along the milestones along the way and shift your life and the lives of others for the better.