It’s that time of the year again –where we’re looking forward to the start of the New Year, when we feel we can all start again, change some habits, and fulfil some newly set goals.
The arrival of the New Year always brings inspiration and awareness of what needs to be improved or changed but transformation only happens when the desire to change is matched with determination, discipline, self-control, persistence and consistency because these are the attributes that will keep one focused when the excitement of the New Year has passed.
The fact that we have inspiration and determination to accomplish our goals does not automatically guarantee success, as life is full of challenges and sometimes things will come our way that we cannot control but, with help from God, one has a better chance of achieving one’s set goals.(Prov. 3:5-6)
This article offers you an insight into the process of setting and planning towards effective achievable goals, I hope you will find it useful.
Below are the 5 stages in setting achievable goals and objectives
Step 1. Review
The initial starting point in setting goals or objectives is to evaluate and review one’s current situation to ascertain what needs to be changed or what’s missing. I call it a “Personal Check-up”.
Step 2. Write the goals down
After the initial stage of reviewing, it is now the time to write down your goals. When you write them down, the goals become clearer. The word of God says write the vision down, make it plain and, though it may tarry, it will surely come to pass. (Hab2:2-3). At this point document everything that comes to your mind, e.g.
•Read through the Bible in one year •Pay off my credit card •Lose weight •Improve my marriage communication •Pay off all loans •Pay off the mortgage •Write an eBook •Travel and see more of the world •Read a book a month •Drink less alcohol •Give up smoking •Spend more time with family •Cook fresh meals more often •Spend less time on social media •Watch less TV •Back up your computer more often •Work less overtime •Write blog articles/posts
•Get a new job •Change career •And Many More
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Step 3. Categorise the goals
Once documented, it is now time to categorise the goals e.g. into spiritual, personal; family; financial and professional goals. This will help to reduce the complexity and identify patterns of development needs (if any), and helps you decide appropriate timescales when you reach the planning and implementation stage, i.e. some goals need to be accomplished before others can be completed. For example, say you want to pay off your mortgage/loans, you either need to create multiple streams of income first, or get a new job that pays more than what you are currently on. In other words, the categorisation stage will help you to identify short, medium and long term goals.
Step 4. Analyse each goal using S.M.A.R.T
It is now time to plan how goals in each category can be accomplished, using an acronym S.M.A.R.T. for each goal.
The goal should identify a specific action or event that will take place as this has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.
EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, “I want to change my job.” A specific goal would be, “I want to get a job in IT as a System Administrator in six months to enable me offset my loan at the end of the year.”
Create milestones for determining progress toward the realisation of each goal you set.
Describes how each goal will be measured, like in our example above I will complete my IT course/Training (be specific which IT course), after which I will update my resume, update my LinkedIn profile and start distributing my CV.
The goal should be realistic, and you need to sense-check that the goal is achievable within the timeframe you have set, e.g. “I want to get a job in IT as System Administrator in six months and become an IT Consultant by the end of the year to enable me to offset my loans by the end of the year”.
Sometimes a goal may seem achievable/attainable but is it relevant to your short, medium and long term goals? In our example ask yourself does going into IT as a Systems Administrator have any relevance to my short, medium or long term goals? If the answer is yes, it will give you more energy to focus on achieving success.
The goal should state the time period in which it will be accomplished. This sometimes overlaps with the goal being ‘measurable’, but it helps to ensure you put a time-frame to your goals, so as to keep you focused.
Step 5. Action plan
Now that you have a clear goal(s) in mind, you need to design plan(s) that will actually turn the goal(s) to actualisation. Someone once said – and I quote – “Goals without an action plan is like a wish list”.
You will need to get all the related tasks together with time frames, and then split these into daily, weekly and monthly tasks. In the example that we’re using, questions one may ask are:
• Is the training going to be self-study or instruction-led, if instructor led, source the provider
• Is the course going to be all inclusive, e.g. will the budgeted fees cover books and certifications
• Is the cost going to be paid once or instalmentally ?
• When is the training going to start?
• Will this affect my other commitments?
After this brainstorming you will arrive at an action plan i.e. the class may hold twice in a week in the evening between 6pm and 9pm for x weeks. You may find the following useful in enhancing your tasks management – setting an alert on your phone, using MS Outlook Task Manager, Gmail calendar – whilst working on your objectives with someone that you are accountable, e.g. your spouse if you are married, or your mentor. The essence of this is to have someone that can track your progress, as sometimes this instils focus when you know someone is going to monitor your progress with your goals.
In conclusion, nothing can be achieved successfully without God, for every house is built by some man; but he that built all things is God – Heb. 3:4.
Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart; and commit your way to the Lord, also trust in Him and He shall bring it to pass – Psalm 37:4-5