8 Simple Steps to Setting Real Goals

January 12, 2014 - 10 minutes read

We all have that bucket list of things we would love to do one day; things that always seem to get put onto the back burner for one reason or another.

We get excited about the concept of making changes and working towards new goals but then something inside us makes us stop for a second and think things through. We look at the alternatives and quickly realize that we just don’t have enough time, we can’t afford it or we don’t want to chance the idea that we may not be good at it…but if we really do want to make a change, why are we so ready to make excuses not to?

A Fear of Failing

One of the most common reasons people don’t set goals is not because they aren’t driven or don’t have plans for where they want to be down the road, but rather because they’re really just scared of failing.

This fear of failure and actually failing itself doesn’t have to be something that inhibits you though – you can use these emotions to realize a few things about yourself and about what you’re trying to do by going for these goals.

Being afraid to do something is typically an indicator that that “thing” is pretty remarkable and out of the ordinary. If you feel like you’re stepping out of your comfort zone in order to accomplish this “thing”, it means that you’re growing as a person and doing something that could potentially impact your life. If you only look at the fear in itself, you forget to see past that towards the amazing results that could come from actually going after these goals. In a case such as this, fear should be used to motivate you to go for this goal, rather than deter you from it.

Sometimes failing takes you off a path that maybe you weren’t really ready to go down in the first place. If you go for something and don’t reach the end objective, it’s not necessarily that you can’t get there, but rather that you may simply need to reevaluate either where you were going in the first place, or else the approach you’ve used to try to get there.

Trying to reach but falling short of your goals proves for a way more exciting life than simply not going for it at all. Without goals, even really small ones, life can get very monotonous and this is when you get into “ruts”.

You always have to anticipate that there will be bumps along the way, but that’s what makes this whole thing so fun – that you get to go through trial and error and really figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. When you eventually look back at where you were before you started, whether you’ve reached your goal or not, you’re always going to be a whole lot further along than you would be if you hadn’t ever tried.

What Would You Do If You Knew You Couldn’t Fail?

This brings us to figuring out what it is that you actually want. It’s very easy to give yourself a general idea that you think you may like to have or do. Saying you want to be rich or that you want to run a marathon isn’t quite enough.

It’s all about creating a life you love, not about being bigger or better simply for the sake of being bigger or better. You need to sit down and create a clear vision of what an ideal life looks like to you and then you can set goals that will help get you there.

If you are actually passionate about something for the sake of your own happiness, you will be so much more likely to reach those goals than if you’re only doing something because you feel like you should. Realize that you’ve only got one life and if you keep putting things off or doing things that aren’t aimed to increase your own happiness, there will come a point where you’ll realize that you’ve spent the majority of your time leading a life that wasn’t ideal.

Planning for Success

It’s like planning a road trip without first buying a map. You may know generally where you want to end up, but if you don’t actually know how you’re going to get there, the chances of you ever arriving at your destination are pretty slim.

It’s not enough to just dream of what you want, you also need to make smaller goals along the way to create your road map of how you’re going to get to your end destination – and to do that it’s more than just scribbling down a couple ideas on the back of a napkin. You need to sit down and focus on coming up with some very clear and precise ideas.

1)   Know your end objective
Be as descriptive as possible, using words and terms that are meaningful to you. Ensure that you include a ‘by-when’ date to give you some form of commitment – without this it’s not a goal, but rather a dream.

2)   Plan in the present tense
Don’t make your end objective something that you want to ‘go back’ to, such as the weight you were when you were 25 or a salary you made in your previous job. Let go of the past and start creating goals in the now which will, in turn, create a more ideal future.

3)   Write out the process
Instead of just creating a large end objective, determine what the steps will need to be in order to get yourself there. Turn these requirements into smaller stepping-stone goals that you accomplish along the way. Physically write out the process and this will act as your road map.

4)   Make your goals realistic and quantifiable
You can reach for the stars but make sure the ladder you’re using to get there is sturdy. Ensure that you’re goals are not only do-able but give yourself an appropriate amount of time to complete each one. Make sure you can also measure your success to determine when you’re able to move on to the next challenge.

5)   Make time to accomplish these goals
Give each smaller goal their own ‘by-when’ date and write these out in your calendar. Schedule time leading up to these dates in order to set yourself up for success in accomplishing these stepping-stone goals.

6)   Share your goals
Talk with people who love and support you and listen to them if they have any suggestions. Avoid sharing the process with people who don’t have your best interests in mind.

7)   Get rid of excuses
Determine what is stopping you or what you are afraid of and decide if it’s really a valid enough reason for you not to pursue your goals.

8)   Do it now!
Don’t put it off until tomorrow, or next week, or some unknown time in the future. Do it now or you probably won’t do it at all.