Goal setting is part of my DNA - as a swimmer, through my professional background in the investment industry, and as a coach and consultant.
I have achieved many of my goals, but also failed to achieve quite a few! I have learnt a huge amount from those failures – although not always immediately.
I have also always been curiously observing others (colleagues, friends and clients), and was keen to understand what makes some people more successful in achieving their goals.
A lot has been written about this topic, but a client encouraged me to write this article, so here is what I have learnt about how to set personal goals successfully.
+ CREATE AND LIVE YOUR OWN DREAMS
If our goals are aligned with our values, vision, personality, AND purpose - and not those of our partners, parents or friends - it is much easier to keep going at times when things are tough(er), as we know our WHY. This also makes it much easier to bounce back when we don’t achieve our goals. This isn't always easy as it requires us to be honest with ourselves & find out who we really are. I have been taken by surprise many times on that journey.
+ ENJOY AND FOCUS ON THE PROCESS
It doesn't matter how smart, talented, or hard working we are, there will be times we fail or don’t achieve our goals. However, if we learn to enjoy the process of getting there, the end result won’t be the only way to measure our success. With all this, I am not saying result-oriented goals are not important – they are part of the plan too and help us to know what we are aiming for - but focusing on what we do every minute, every hour, every day is more important in my opinion, as it directs our focus on what we have control over.
+ BE PATIENT
My father used to remind me to be more patient but I found it very difficult if not impossible when I was young. Today, I encourage my kids to be more patient, and funnily, they have been my best teachers. To achieve goals usually takes longer than we think, and I have realised (thank you Papa) that being patient often creates a force and speeds things up. It also helps us to stay focused on the process.
+ WE CAN'T FAIL, BUT ONLY LEARN
Failure only exists in our mind, and results from the way we choose to interpret our life experiences. We can choose to see setbacks as failures, or we can choose to see them as learning and growth opportunities. Sometimes not achieving a goal might mean it was not the right goal, and this has been true for me many times. This also leads me to my next point.
+ DON'T GET ATTACHED, AND WATCH YOUR EGO
We must remember that our goals are here to support us to create our ideal or dream that is aligned with our purpose, personality, value, and vision. If that is no longer true, it might be a good idea to abandon our goal - the quicker we can cut our losses the better. Here I have learnt that we have to be aware of our ego, which could potentially want us to hang on to a goal that is no longer true or relevant.
+ CELEBRATE SUCCESSES
Last but certainly not least, we must take the time and celebrate our successes no matter how small - ideally even keep a journal. It is so important as it will not only keep us going when things are difficult, but will also enable us to bounce back from setbacks much quicker. This sounds simple but isn't, especially for high-achiever personalities who tend to see this as a waste of time, and prefer to get started on the next goal.
Setting and achieving goals is not an easy task, but is definitely worthwhile. As Les Browns says “Goals help you channel your energy into action”. Achieving them requires focus, planning and endurance, all of which are highly useful skills across a range of life's challenges. A coach can be a very helpful way of finding out where we may be lacking skills, and helping us to improve ourselves in the most relevant areas. It has certainly been helpful to me, and is one of the reasons I moved into this area.