I think it’s safe to say that all of us have dreams and goals of some sort, whether they are normal or a bit outlandish. When we finally focus in on one or two that we truly want to work toward, our feelings of excitement and anticipation take over.
Then reality hits.
I don’t know what exactly happens in our minds that causes us to doubt ourselves and our ability to reach new milestones and chase our dreams, but something always seems to get in the way. Maybe it’s because we have experienced failure before and we’re afraid that it’s going to happen again. Whatever the reason is, it makes the goal setting process a bit more nerve-racking.
Although I can’t sit here and tell you exactly how to go about creating your goals and reaching them, I can provide three questions for you to think about as you go through the process. My hope is that these questions will help you reflect on what you really want, as well as whether your goal needs to be amended to better fit your needs.
1. Is the Goal Measurable?
I want you to think back to elementary school for a minute – specifically, try to recall what you told your teacher you wanted to be when you grew up.
For me, I said I was going to be a teacher or an artist (clearly neither of those ended up working out for me).
I had a goal to be one of these two types of people when I grew up, but did I have a specific plan or measure to go off of?
Instead, I had a vision of what I thought was going to be something I would enjoy. Rather than creating smaller goals to help me reach these larger goals (such as graduating high school, going to college, and finishing my degree), I simply wrote the goal down on a piece of paper and forgot about it the rest of the school year.
Now, I do understand that I was young and obviously I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up yet, but don’t we all make these kinds of goals as adults?
I’m going to be a millionaire by the time I’m 50.
I’m going to write a book someday.
I plan on going back to school.
These are all great goals to have, but they aren’t measurable.
Why is it so important to have a measurable goal, you ask? For one, it provides you with specific guidelines rather than a broad picture. So, if my goal was to write a book someday, I could make it measurable by adding a timeframe to complete it in:
I’m going to write a book within the next year.
Simple, right? After establishing a timeframe, I’m able to write smaller goals to help me reach the overarching goal that I have. For example, I may set a milestone at the six-month mark to have 50 pages out of 100 total pages written.
When you have something you’re able to measure, it allows you to prioritize better so that you know what needs to be done and when.
2. Are You Creating a Goal that is Reachable?
I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but the reality is that not all goals are going to be attainable for us. Why? Because certain things are out of our control.
For example, I may have created a goal to visit my family in the Midwest every month this year. Unfortunately, my job does not allot enough paid time off for that to occur, and my family isn’t always going to be in-town.
I would love to see you reach all of your goals and dreams, but I want to make sure you are working toward those goals that are attainable and reachable. The last thing you want to do is feel like a failure for not reaching a goal that was never attainable in the first place.
3. Is the Goal Going to Move You Forward?
Reaching your goals take work, so why waste your time with something that isn’t going to propel you forward in the world? Sure, you may have desires to achieve little things here and there, but should they really be written goals that you have a plan on achieving?
Some examples of goals that may help move you forward are:
- Receive a raise at work at your next evaluation
- Take a budgeting class so that you can learn how to save money
- Attend a sustainability conference that teaches you have to live more ‘green’
Remember, you only get so much time in this world – make it count!