Setting goals for your future is key to moving your life & business in the direction that you want it to go. Yet despite all the evidence that it works, many people do not set goals for the future down on paper.
Question: Why is this?
Answer: I don’t know!
What about you? Have you set any goals for this coming year? If not – why not?
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Maybe you’ve tried it but failed to reach your goals, or you’ve felt stressed because you’ve set unrealistic or too many goals. Or perhaps you have simply have never been made aware of the power of goal setting.
Here are some tips for effective, stress-free goal setting:
1. Stretch Yourself …
While you want to avoid stress, there is little point bothering to set goals if you set the bar too low.
Deciding to get 100 Facebook fans for your shop Facebook page for example, is going to be relatively simple to achieve in 12 months – so better to stretch yourself and decide to reach 1000 Likes by the end of the year. This way even if you only get 60% of the way there you will have exceeded the initial low target by 500%!
2. … But Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
You are busy and dealing with increasing complexity every year (who needed a Facebook page 5 years ago?) so be careful not to do your own head in by setting so many goals that you end up getting frazzled and disappointed that you fell short of your expectations.
3. Set Measurable, Time-Bound Goals
Avoid vague goals like “sell more each month”. You will be much better served by setting specific, time-bound goals like “Increase turnover by 5% each month compared to the same month last year”. This way you know exactly what you are aiming for and can easily see if you are on track at any time.
4. Set the Right Type of Goals for Your Personality Type
According to psychologists, when it comes to which goals motivate us there are two types of people. The first group are motivated by goals that are optimistic and focussed around maximising gain. The second type are more motivated by pessimism and minimising loss. Despite the self-help rhetoric in favour of positive thinking, there is nothing wrong with either approach, depending on the circumstances.
An example of optimistic goal setting might be a goal that states: “This year I will work up my social media presence in order to increase online sales by 20%”.
An example of the pessimistic approach might be “In order to fend off the threat of declining bricks n’ mortar sales and to stop the competition from poaching my market share, the combination of which I estimate likely to cost me a 20% drop in sales in the coming year, I will put more effort into social media marketing.”
As you can see, both strategies mount to more or less the same thing (depending on whether the pessimist’s predictions come true), but some people will be more motivated by one than the other.
It is good to know which kind of person you are (optimistic or pessimistic) and which approach is more likely to serve you best.
Even if you are a positive thinker by nature, in some cases taking the pessimistic approach to goal setting can be more appropriate. Apparently, optimism tends to turn to discouragement quite easily. When someone who started out trying to gain something starts to feel that they are not “winning”, they are more likely to give up.
Conversely, pessimistic strategies based around the fear of loss often work in the opposite way; they motivate people to strive ever harder in the face of an increased likelihood of failure. People just tend to dig their heels in to try not to lose what they already have, thus increasing their probability of success through sheer determination, effort and persistence.
5. Go With Your Passion
When setting your goals, keep your passions in mind, because when it comes time to do the grunt work it’s your passion that will see you through. When you have a cold and a hundred mini-emergencies that need dealing with and the kids are giving you hell, it’s only passion that will make you sit down and do the work.
If your goals are all based around making you do stuff you hate, chances are it just won’t get done.
6. Write Your Goals Down and Review Them Regularly
This has nothing to do with anything woo-woo, it’s just that mentally stating your goals to yourself once doesn’t make as much sense as writing them down and reviewing them regularly. Doing this will serve to remind you of what it is you want most and what your strategy is for getting it.
7. Set Leverage Goals
Leverage goals are my little pet name for goals that allow you to keep your list of goals short and sweet because you know that if you achieve these goals, then you’re pretty much going to be on the right track across the board.
By choosing a limited number of ‘leverage goals’ you can avoid cluttering your mind up with a huge running list of goals. This will then help you to relax and get busy, safe in the knowledge that you’re pointing the ship in the right direction.
Hope this helps – here’s to a safe and prosperous 2012!!!
Written by Seamus – Tesselaar’s website manager and marketing nerd
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