What Is A Goal?

According to Wikipedia the exact definition of a goal is the desired result of a person or system envisions, plans and commits to achieve a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development.

In other words, any planning you do for the future regardless of what it is is a goal. So the next time you are planning on doing the weekly chores or decide on doing the groceries after work, always keep in mind that these small tasks account as goals and while seemingly insignificant you are goal setting.

1. Goals Give Direction

If you aim at nothing, you will hit every time. ~ Zig Ziglar
Arrow in bullseye
Arrow in bullseye

Imagine having to shoot an arrow without being given a target. Where would you aim? Why would you aim there? And what would the purpose be? This is a literal example of what life is like without a goal or target in mind. Your potential, talents and abilities are nothing without focus. Just like how sunbeams can’t burn through anything without a magnifying glass focusing it, you can’t achieve anything unless a goal is focusing your effort. Because at the end of the day goals are what give you direction in life. By setting goals for yourself you give yourself a target to shoot for. This sense of direction is what allows your mind to focus on a target and rather than waste energy shooting aimlessly, allows you to hit your target and reach your goal.

2. Goals Show Progress

What you measure, you move. ~ Tony Horton (Creator of P90X)

Goals properly defined allow you to measure your progress. The often used SMART goal setting is a great way to set clear goals for your life that are:

  • Specific: Micro goals eventually will turn into macro results
  • Measurable: The defined goal should be measurable, meaning whatever the goal is, you should be able to measure if there is progress or not.
  • Achievable: Set goals that are at the crossroad of realistic and unrealistic. It should still be achievable. If it’s a bridge too far, it could actually demotivate you instead of inspiring you.
  • Relevant: In line with a specific goal, it should also be relevant to your growth. All the goals you set should be in line with your macro vision for your life. 
  • Timely: Any goal that is defined should have a timeline connected to it. This way you can see progress over a specific period and adjust in a timely manner.

By setting goals for yourself you are able to measure your progress because you always have a benchmark to compare with. I’m currently in the process of writing a book of 100.000 words. I have a clear word tracker that shows me how far I am and thus how many more words I need to write. Every time I have a down moment and forgot what I’m doing again, I’ll just look at the progress I have made so far, and start writing again. Goals give you direction, urgency and motivation.

3. Goals Help Prioritise

One half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it. ~ Sidney Howard

I remember growing up, I had a good friend who wanted to go clubbing every weekend. Preferable on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Since I was not an Einstein and had to put in the study hours, I had to say no sometimes to focus on study books instead of the club. By setting goals you give yourself mental boundaries. When you have a certain end point in mind you automatically stay away from certain distractions and stay focused (read my recent article on the impact of distractions on your goals) towards the goal. This process happens automatically and subtly but according to research does happen. Once you have clear goals, you subconsciously keep away from distractions and your focus remains only on the goal. One of the key ingredients in life to become successful is to set a goal, lock it in and then go all in!

4. Short-Term Goals Kill Procrastination

The clearer the goal, the less procrastination.The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. ~ Lao Tau (Chinese philosopher and writer)

I was asked to do a keynote recently at a conference in Indonesia. Usually, this is confirmed 6 weeks in advance, at the latest, and there is sufficient time to prepare. This event was different, they had a late confirmation and I was asked to speak only 3 days in advance. I can tell you, I have never worked so efficient during these 3 days because I had a very clear goal and short timeline to achieve that goal. Short term goals kill procrastination and increase efficiency. Long-term goals trigger procrastination and inefficiency. So whenever you’re given a long-term goal, for example, to write a book of 100.000 words in 12 months, try to break it down and define clear short-term goals like writing words per day.

5. Goals Give You Motivation

One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals. ~ Michael Korda (English writer and novelist)

Goal setting provides you with the foundation for your drive and momentum. By making a goal you give yourself a concrete endpoint to aim for and get excited about. It gives you something to focus on and put 100% of your effort into and this focus is what develops motivation. Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions, these can be changed as your priorities change, new ones added, and others dropped.

What are your goals for this week?



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