What are your goals for next year? Where would you like to be at this time next year? What would you like to have accomplished in the next three years?
How do you feel when you are asked questions like that? Annoyed? Excited?
When I was younger I would feel incredibly annoyed whenever anyone asked me those questions – and they were rather frequent! Like how the heck would I know what I was doing in 5 years time?! Let alone next year? And why was the need to set goals so important when I can do whatever, whenever I want?
But now that I’m older, I finally recognise the importance of goals – having gone through a couple of years in my early 20s just existing from one day to the next, not being very ambitious or motivated.
Having been planning my life goals for a few years already, I’ve come to really appreciate how useful the process is.
Why you need to set goals:
Here are the top five reasons why setting goals is so useful and important:
Keeps you focused and ensures you procrastinate less.
Imagine doing this – you walk to the bus stop in the morning. A bus – any bus – comes along and you just hop on it without caring to see the route it’s taking or the destination it’s headed to. You ride on it for 15 minutes and then you get off at wherever it was stopping at.
Did that make sense?
Well, that’s exactly what it means to have no goals. With the absence of an end destination or target, your journey there is absolutely random and haphazard – just like taking a bus to anywhere.
Having a goal means knowing to focus your energy and effort on goal-related activities. You won’t be distracted by unrelated tasks. Goals give you direction, it’s akin to a location pin on a Google Map. When you know where you are going and your current state in relation to the goal, the chances of you procrastinating are reduced.
Keeps you on track.
Goals are a yardstick for measuring your progress.
When you have an end-goal, say, writing a 15,000 word essay by Friday, you are able to tell very quickly how far you are currently from your end-goal. So if it’s already Thursday and you’re only at 1500 words, you know you are in trouble. As you are able to tell quite quickly how much more work you need to put in to get to the end.
Keeps you accountable.
Goals give you a sense of responsibility.
For instance, in working towards your 15,000 word essay, you plan to write 3000 words each day for five days. This mini goal will stick in the back of your mind until you are done with it.
Our brains have a way of constantly reminding us of incomplete tasks and keeping us accountable til the end.
Keeps you motivated.
Goals provide inspiration and motivation.
They are what keep us going til the end. When the chips are down, when we feel drained or want to give up; a goal gives us that little push to keep going til we reach our destination.
Goals can keep you on your toes by forcing you to either make use of what you already know to accomplish them. Or, they challenge you to go beyond what you already know, to get out of your comfort zone.
That forces you to seek out new information and skills to meet the “requirements” of your goal. Some organizations practice this by introducing “stretch assignments”
Along the way you might stumble or face problems you’ve never encountered before, you will probably have to navigate uncomfortable situations. The process of seeking solutions to those problems and overcoming them are valuable life lessons.
Setting your goals
Now, it’s your turn to set some goals. As we are moving into 2018, and if you’ve not given thought to what you would like to achieve next year, now is the perfect time.
So here is what I do when I set goals:
I separate my goals into different “buckets”, areas in my life that are important to me/that I want to work on more. For eg; finance, career, personal growth, health, reading etc. You can create as many buckets as you want. Then I just write whatever I would like to achieve within each bucket – no holding back!
Long term vs Short term goals
Once I’m done with the different buckets, I separate them into long-term and short-term goals. I do this by working backwards – I think of my lifetime goals, then I break that down into 5 year goals (or 3 year if that’s what you prefer), then a year, then 3 months.
I set both long and short-term goals as I think both are important. Long-term goals act as a big-picture motivator. Short-term goals are the ones that I have to accomplish in the near-future. Both are super important, especially if you are working towards something big, like, say, buying a house or losing 15kg.
With all that in mind, what are your goals for 2018?