So you’ve read a zillion articles on setting goals and now you’re more confused than when you started. There seems to be so many options and rules on how to set your goals.
Long, short, yearly, quarterly, mini, SMART…. And the list goes on. Well before you pull your hair out in frustration, take a deep breath and relax. I’ve got you covered.
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t get so stuck on figuring out the right way to set your goals, that you never end up setting any at all.
Let’s demystify goal setting a bit. If you’re new to goal setting it can seem overwhelming. Let’s look at the different types of goals you can set. Seeing how they can all work together may help give you some clarity.
Long Term Goals
There are different ideas concerning what the length of a long term goal should be. For the sake of my sanity, let’s all agree that a long term goal is longer than 1 year and shorter than death.
Long term goals are big picture goals. They can be as big as you want them to be. There really are no rules for setting these goals. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
They do not need to be SMART goals. Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. Don’t get me wrong here, you can certainly make them SMART, but it’s not necessary.
Let’s consider how a nonspecific long term goal can work. Let’s say your goal is to get healthy. This is very non specific. But it’s also something that you can and should work on forever.
Your idea of what healthy is will also change and evolve as you start getting healthy.
Your short term goals and habits. are where you’ll get very specific and detailed on how you plan to get healthy.
Let’s look at a more specific long term goal. Let’s say you want to buy a house in 5 years. This is a great example of a SMART long term goal. It’s very specific, with a time limit attached.
Get creative with your long term goals. Think big. Dream big. You are more capable than you think at achieving great things. Allow yourself to think big when it comes to your long term goals.
Take a few minutes right now and write down some long term goals for yourself.
Yearly Theme or Word of the Year
A yearly theme or word of the year is a way to focus your goals for a specific outcome or feeling. They help you focus on a particular result.
It is not a necessity to do this but a lot of people find it helpful.
To show you an example of how this works, the theme I set for my goals last year was No Regrets. All of my long term, yearly, and short term goals were things that if I didn’t do them I would someday have regrets for not making the effort.
They were also things I had been too afraid to try or do in the past. Things I had not done because I had felt inadequate, not smart enough, or not talented enough. Things that I hadn’t done because of worry about what others might think of me.
Basically all the things I’ve not done out of fear. So what happened? It was the greatest year ever!
I really love the themed year.
This year my word of the year is Clarity. All the goals I set were geared towards finding clarity. In my life, my purpose, my thoughts, etc.
How do you pick a word, phrase or theme for your year?
When I pick my word of the year I just Google positive words, quotes, and values. Then I read through a bunch, writing down any I really like. Then I just go through that list asking myself how I want to feel in the coming year. Some questions you can ask yourself:
- What am I struggling with?
- How do I want to feel?
- What’s missing in my life?
If this sounds like something you want to try, take a few minutes and Google away.
Year Long Goals
Yearly goals are a type of long term goal. I would advise you set them separately from your other long term goals.
The reason for this is because your yearly goals are what you’ll use as a focal point for all your other goals each year. These are goals you set after asking yourself what you want to accomplish this year?
When you set these goals it’s important to also keep in mind all the long term goals you wrote down earlier. For each of those, set a goal for what you will need to accomplish this year to keep you on track to achieving that goal.
Take a few minutes to set some yearly goals. Ask yourself:
- What do I want to accomplish this year?
- What do I need to accomplish this year to stay on track with my long term goals?
Short Term Goals
Short term goals are any goals that take less than a year. They are exactly what they sound like. Short. They are something you want to achieve in a short amount of time.
All short term goals must be SMART goals. They must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timebound.
Redecorating your living room is a good example of a short term goal. To make this a SMART goal, all you need to ask yourself is when can you realistically get this done? Give yourself a time limit.
Lose weight is another great short term goal. It needs a little more work to make it SMART. Decide how much weight you want to lose and by what date you think you can realistically achieve this goal.
Take a few minutes to write down some SMART short term goals for yourself.
Mini goals are created when breaking your short and long term goals down into actionable, easy to complete smaller steps.
These are your action steps to achieving all the goals you’ve written down so far. This is where the magic happens in achieving your goals.
Since you’ve already determined what you need to do this year to stay on track for your long term goals, we’ll start here breaking down your yearly goals.
Make a list of everything you can and should do for each of these goals. Let’s say one of your yearly goals for buying your house in 5 years is to save $5,000.00 this year.
You then need to figure out how much you need to save each payday. Are you going to open a separate savings account for this money? See how this works?
Do this same thing for each of your yearly goals.
Now on to your short term goals. Do the exact same thing here as you just did with all of your yearly goals.
The above short term goal example was to re-decorate your living room. Write everything down that you’ll need to do to accomplish this project in the time you’ve allowed yourself.
List all supplies needed, things you need to order, time each portion of the project will take, who will help you, and the days you’re going to have available to work on this project. Map it all out.
Do this for all of your short term goals.
Habits are goals that are repetitive actions you do daily in order to get the same results consistently. Habits are often useful to ensure you stay on track to achieve your other goals.
An example of this might be creating the habit of drinking 64 oz of water a day. This might be a perfect choice of habits to help you on your long term goal of getting healthy.
Another great example would be creating a morning routine for yourself. This would incorporate several habits being started at once, or you might start slower with a couple of habits, and add on to them as you go.
Think of any habits you would like to add to your life now. Look at the goals you’ve already set for yourself. Would adding any habits to your life help you to achieve any of your goals? If so, write them down.
That’s it! I hope I’ve helped you understand how all of these elements of goal setting can work together for you.
Don’t forget to reevaluate, and adjust your goals as needed to help you stay on track.
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