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Personal goal setting is a great way to keep yourself on track and accomplish the things you set out to accomplish. Setting personal goals goes hand in hand with setting intentions, but it’s the second step and more involved. If you haven’t started with intentions yet, head over there and check it out, then come back to move into goal setting!
Why is Goal Setting Important?
It’s important to set goals because doing so gives you the motivation to work for the things that you want. It gives you daily and weekly focus, and helps you stay organized and productive. Setting goals keeps you on track to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish out of life.
What Are Some Examples of Personal Goals?
If this is your first time setting personal goals, you might be looking for examples of what those goals should be. There are a ton of examples of personal goals, ranging from simple goals that can be accomplished in a day, or life goals that take a lifetime to fully accomplish.
Some of my daily goals are to exercise every day, whether that be a brief walk or a few squats, get some writing done every day, and make sure I take a few minutes for myself each day. These are short-term goals that I can accomplish each day.
I may have a few longer-term goals that I set weekly or monthly – like clean something once a week, or set a monthly savings rate. The great thing about personal goals is that they can take any amount of time, and be about anything that is important to you.
How Do You Identify Your Personal Goals?
Identifying your personal goals doesn’t have to be complicated. All you have to do is decide what you want, and make a plan to get it. Your goals should be little steps along the way that are easy to accomplish.
In order to identify what your goals should be, you need to first decide what you want. Do you have a target retirement goal? A financial goal? Perhaps your personal goals align more with your career goals and you want to be more productive at work, or get that new job. Anything that you are striving for in life can be broken down into manageable goals for you to work towards.
How Do you Start Setting Goals?
The hardest part about setting goals is getting started. Sometimes I look at my life and think “where do I even begin?”. If you are in a similar boat, I understand.
A lot of us have huge long-term goals, like retiring early, but have no idea how to transform those things into manageable and achievable long-term goals. I’ve found that it helps to break them up. Let’s use the huge life goal of “retire early” as an example.
First, you have to figure out what that means. “retire early” is so vague that it’s difficult to set a goal with. Instead, make it more specific. Retire by age 45 with a million dollars in investments. Now you have something to work with, right?
Next, break that goal down into actionable steps that you can take in the shorter term. Maybe that means you have to set a yearly savings goal or increase your salary for a few years. These are longer-term goals that are related to your main goal.
You can also break it down even further. What can you do in the next few days or weeks that aligns with your goal? If you need to increase your salary, maybe you can start by revamping your resume. Then you can apply for a certain number of jobs each day. Or you can consider other ways to increase your income, like starting a side hustle. There are numerous ways you can achieve this goal, it’s important that you think about these things and decide what is right for you.
One thing that really helps me organize these thoughts and decide on what my short- and long-term goals are is a journal. I use it to write daily to-do lists, brainstorm ideas, and even create flow charts on how short-term goals might relate to my life goals.
What are the 3 Types of Goals?
When we talk about setting goals, it’s important to know the three main types of goals. These are process goals, performance goals, and outcome goals. Goals are divided into these categories based on how much control the goal setter has over them.
Process goals are the easiest goals to achieve because we have the most control over them. Let’s use the goal of retiring early again. What is a process that you can do that will help you achieve your goal? That is, what is something you can do that is completely within your control?
A monthly savings goal could be considered a process goal. You can make a goal to save money out of every paycheck. Every time you get paid, you sit down and put money into your savings account before buying anything else. This is a behavior that you do to help you achieve your long-term goals.
A performance goal is a standard that you want to achieve. It can go hand in hand with your process goals. Your performance goal might be something like “save 5K by the end of the year”. This is a longer-term goal that’s related to your process goal of saving money each paycheck, and there’s an achievable standard involved. You will know that you achieved your goal because you hit your target. Performance goals are a tad bit harder to achieve than process goals, because although they are still mostly within our control, sometimes unexpected things happen that affect our performance.
The final type of goal is an outcome goal. These might be a little harder to achieve because not every part of them is in your control. Sticking with the early retirement analogy, your goal might be to increase your net worth by 10%. Part of this is in your control, with your performance goal of saving 5K. However, part of this might not be in your control. If you have investments, they might have a bad year. You might have a financial emergency that puts you in debt. Many things can happen that are outside of our immediate control. The best way to handle outcome goals is to do the best you can, and accept that not everything works the way we expect all the time.
What are SMART Goals?
Another great method of goal setting is setting smart goals. SMART is an acronym, but it’s also a great description of these types of goals. A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable Relevant, and Time-based. When setting goals, you should aim for these five benchmarks.
Let’s go back to the goal of retiring early. That might be measurable because you know retiring early means you aren’t working anymore. But it’s not really specific, and because it’s not specific, it’s not really relevant or timely.
A smarter goal would be to retire at age 45 with 1 million dollars in investments because it’s specific, measurable, relevant, and there is a time frame attached to it. Only you will know whether it’s attainable or not. If you are 43 years old and have 0 dollars in investments and aren’t expecting any type of windfall, this goal is probably unrealistic. However, if you are 25 years old, debt-free, with a high-paying job and 100K already saved, it might be attainable.
Smart goals are clearly defined, realistic, and achievable.
How Do you Achieve Your Goals?
The most important piece about setting goals is working towards them and achieving them. Anyone can set goals and not follow through with them. I’ve done that on numerous occasions in my life, and I’m sure most folks can relate. So how do you get motivated to take that big leap and accomplish your goals?
The first thing step towards achieving your goals is setting your mindset towards achieving them. This goes back to setting intentions – if you train your body and mind that you are absolutely going to do this thing, then you are more likely to follow through and do it.
Next, you need to set up an action plan for working towards your goals. I find that using a planner really helps me with this step. I can write down my daily task list and compare it with my monthly goals. Ivory planner has an amazing all-in-one planner that has a daily, weekly, and monthly section that allows you to track your short and long-term goals at the same time.
Finally, you need to get motivated to follow through! Here’s an awesome post on how to stay motivated if that’s the piece you struggle with.
Get Started with Goal Setting Today!
So what are you waiting for? Get to setting and achieving those goals today!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.