Goal Setting

Why setting goals is important

The 5 reasons why setting goals - both long term and short term goals are important for you. Goal setting worksheet; goal setting printable just for you. Start planning your life today!

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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.

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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.

Promotes learning

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”

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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?

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  1. That Logic Guy

    at 7:38 am

    Goal management seems an art more than a science, though I haven’t examined the topic in depth.


    According to an article, one of Zig Ziglar’s rules regarding goals was:

    “7. Tell people.
    Chances are excellent they’re going to encourage you.”

    However, other people say that you should NOT tell others!

    (The latter article’s title mimics a quote from the “Fight Club” movie: “The first rule of Fight Club is: you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: you DO NOT talk about Fight Club!”)

    So, who’s right? “Tell people” optimists, or contrarians?

    Should we tell people our goals? (Promoting accountability, motivation, etc.)?
    Or should we NOT tell them? (Preventing sabotage, etc. – yes, some people would love to sabotage us!)

    My point of view is this:

    It is true that telling somebody your goals would help accountability and “force” us to act in order to not “lose face”. However, most people will not care much about our goals (much less motivate us) and in fact some will actively oppose them! (Eg. people who are envious or otherwise have a vested interest in stopping us)

    By the way, yes, even parents and relatives can be envious; foresee this, and plan accordingly.

    I know from experience that not everybody loves us, and in fact I have people in my family, some even wealthy, who actually seem to feel threatened by the fact that I am a pretty decent computer programmer or that I religiously follow a weight lifting program – stuff that a lot of them wouldn’t dream of doing!

    So, to conclude, here is my “distilled wisdom”:

    Generally speaking, it is better to NOT tell anybody what your goals are. BUT if you have to tell somebody: only reveal your goals to GOOD people who actually CARE and are NOT envious of you. (And even so: remember that some people CAN become envious of you once you achieve a certain degree of success!)

    Thus spoke That Logic Guy! (Yes, it’s a Nietzsche tribute quote, haha).


    1. Sara

      at 7:53 pm

      Hello RB!

      It does seem to be more an art, though there are lots of helpful “scientific principles” about goal management around. Thing is, you can know all the theories in the world and still be bad at setting goals and following through with them. I think ultimately, it boils down to (intrinsic) motivation and how much you want it as well as how much you are willing to give up to achieve something.

      Ah the good ole accountability argument! I think telling others does work for accountability, but only with a caveat: the person is as committed as you are to this goal. Honestly? Most people won’t be – it’s not their goal and their own personal goals to achieve. Unless the person is a paid professional – counsellor, educator etc whose job, literally, is to see you hit your goals, getting someone else to be an accountability partner is always tough.

      And I totally agree with your last para – and this goes for goals, dreams, big ambitions etc – to only tell these things to well-intentioned, trusted people. People who aren’t jealous, have bad thoughts toward you etc. There are some people who aren’t goal-getters and will dissuade you from following your dreams. I personally NEVER tell people what my goals are, I keep them to myself and am rather vague when asked about it too. This is especially so if the goal is very huge and very personal.

      Appreciate your comments! This has given me food for thought for another post, heh.

      PS: I’ll go on the other blog soon – been pretty busy lately!

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