If you’re new to setting goals, you may be wondering, “Why set goals? What’s the point?”
I have always loved goals, and, over the course of my lifetime, I’ve probably (definitely) set too many of them. But I also know that not everyone gets it. So as a goal-setter by nature, I’m here to explain why I (and others) love goals so much and the reasons you should set them.
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Why Set Goals?
There are many different types of goals and I’ll get to that further down, but, first, here are the main reasons to set goals.
You Have Something to Offer
First things first: you have something to offer the world. Whether you know it or not, you have something completely unique that you bring to the table. And because you have that, there are things you need to accomplish… and goals can help.
You Have Big Dreams
Second things second: you have big dreams. If you’re anything like me, you have ideas (big ideas) of what you want to do with your life or what you want your life to look like. Goals are how we get from here to there.
For example, I want to have a career that allows me both flexibility and stability. That’s hard to get and I don’t have it now. But I know that if I set that as a goal and come up with a plan, then one day it will be a reality.
To Get Things Done
Ultimately, the reason for setting goals comes down to one thing: getting things done.
If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, it becomes a lot less likely that you’ll accomplish it.
Writing out your goals gives you an understanding of what you’re aiming for and prevents you from forgetting or getting side-tracked.
You Need a Plan
Goals can also give you a sense of direction.
A goal isn’t just a resolution to accomplish something, but also a plan to accomplish it. Well thought out goals give a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished and how to accomplish it.
When you take your goals and break them down into smaller, actionable goals, you have a plan to accomplish the bigger goal you started with.
You Need to Prioritize
We are all incredibly busy. I work full time, attend grad school part time, and run this blog part time, I know that life. And with that, there are competing priorities.
But having all of your goals written out in front of you helps you know what’s really important to you. If your ultimate goal is to do something that you’re not currently spending time on, you may need to make some room for that new priority.
Writing it all out gives you an opportunity to decide what you really want to focus on.
How to Set Goals
Long-Term vs. Short-Term Goals
There are two main types of goals: long-term and short-term. Long-term goals are big goals that you want to accomplish over a number of years. Short-term goals are goals that can normally be accomplished in three months or less.
If you’re thinking about setting goals, I would start by setting long-term goals and then break those goals down into short-term goals. If you only set short-term goals, you’ll miss out on accomplishing big goals and big dreams. And if you only set long-term goals, you’ll likely fail to achieve them because you haven’t broken them down into bite-sized pieces.
Long-term goals also make you excited about big dreams, while short-term goals give you the thrill of quick wins.
I’ve written two posts that can help you with each step:
Set SMART Goals
Well thought out goals generally meet 5 criteria. These 5 things are represented by the acronym SMART:
Specific – Be specific. For this one, I like to say that you should think about what questions your mom might ask you about your goal and then make the answers part of the goal.
Measurable – Measurable goals have specific criteria that help you know when they’re accomplished. For example, instead of “Save an emergency fund”, your goal could be to “Save an emergency fund of $1,000”. Then you know that when you’ve saved $1,000, you’ve accomplished your goal.
Achievable – Do you have the skills/time/resources that you need to accomplish your goal? If not, can you gain them?
Relevant – This differs a little depending on the type of goal. When thinking about the relevancy of personal goals, I like to think about my person values. What things are a priority in my life and does this goal align with those priorities? For work or school, you’ll just need to think about how your goal fits into your role and/or courses.
Time-bound – Every goal should have a specific timeframe. When will the goal be completed? Having a set timeline will help keep you on track with your goals.
It’s important to set SMART goals because, otherwise, your goals won’t be clearly defined and you’re more likely to fail at accomplishing them. Setting SMART goals will help you stick to and accomplish your goals.
One Last Note
Goals have changed my life in so many wonderful ways. Many of the things I have accomplished, I would have never done if I hadn’t written them down as a goal.
I hope I’ve thoroughly explained the reasons to set goals and answered your question, “Why set goals?” If you have never set goals before, but are interested in doing so, I would suggest you start here: 5 Simple Steps for Setting Long-Term Goals