If you want an easy way to set goals stop thinking of it as some structured process that takes a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be any more structured than keeping a “To Do” list. And you don’t have to be afraid of losing the spontaneity and flexibility of simply “going with the flow.”
All you have to do is formalize something you have been doing all your life without really being aware of it. As a child, had you ever set your mind on getting a new bicycle, for instance? If so, not only did you have a specific goal in mind, you probably had an action plan as well. It may have been to earn the required sum of money by getting a paper route, or saving your allowances or methodically harassing your parents until they finally broke down and bought it for you. You may even have had a deadline date in mind. You wanted it in the summer so you could it show off to Jane down the street.
Buying a car or a house, visiting Disney World, going on a cruise, or simply spending a weekend with friends all require the basics of goal-setting. You decide what you want, when you want it, and establish an action plan in order to get it.
All the other characteristics of goals are self-evident. It stands to reason that they must be specific so you will know how much money you will need in order to buy the bicycle you want, and you also know your goal is realistic since you have already thought of several ways you can get the necessary money.
There’s nothing mysterious, complicated or difficult about setting goals. Yet less than five percent of the population claims they actually have personal goals in writing. Why?
It’s probably because we tend to resist change. We’re a little afraid of anything we don’t fully understand. We crave simplicity. That’s one reason we are feeling the stress of this digital age of speed where everything is changing so quickly
Accept the fact that goal-setting is not something new to be learned and mastered, but something old that should be used more fully. Goal-setting has been in use ever since Eve spotted that juicy fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And for good or evil, goal-setting does get results.
Sure there are time management experts promoting SMART goals – saying they should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-framed. And that they should be what you want and not what other people want for you, and that you shouldn’t have too many goals, and that they should be compatible with one another, and they should cover all areas of your life and they must be in writing ….. Ignore all that.
Instead, simply decide what you want and when you want it, write that date in your planner (Yes, I said write, because a paper planner works best), and then flip back the pages of your planner to today’s date, and schedule blocks of time each week to work on your goal. You are actually scheduling appointments with yourself to work on those things you want. When you see the deadline date getting close, simply schedule more time each week. Or simply continue past the deadline.
After all, if it takes a few weeks longer than expected, who cares? Jane down the street will still be impressed.