By Charndré Emma Kippie
Do you know what your true purpose in life is? When was the last time you truly set time aside to find a clear picture of where you’re headed? It may seem ‘cliché’, but taking some time to sit down and make a list of your goals and aspirations can be instrumental in your future success.
According to a study conducted by the Harvard MBA Business School, on the value of goal setting, upon graduating it was determined that:
- 84% of the entire class had set no goals at all
- 13% of the class had set written goals but had no concrete plans
- 3% of the class had both written goals and concrete plans
Interestingly, as well, the 3% of the class that had both written goals and a game plan for their future, were earning ten times more than the rest of the 97% of the class who took part in the study. What this shows is that planning ahead for your future, whether it be for your education, career, or holistic life plan, will go a long way in guaranteeing the success of your endeavours.
What is important to note, however, is that this is about more than simply jotting down all your dreams and aspirations in a diary somewhere. Coming up with ‘smart’ goals that are actionable is what matters. There is no point in setting a bar that is unattainable or something you’re going to lose interest in along the way. This is where introspection will come into play. How well do you know yourself? Are you aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are? What are your personal preferences? These are important questions you need to ask yourself before planning ahead for your future.
In taking the next steps towards drawing out your plan, it may be helpful to acknowledge the foundations of SMART Goals. This clever acronym is actually a nifty checklist of sorts for mapping out your set of goals. SMART Goals are: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely. Once you get the just of this, you’ll be well on your way to making your highest potential a reality.
If you’re worried about sticking to the plan and making sure you reach small milestones along the way to your ‘big win’, then here are a few tips and tricks that may help you stay on your path to success:
Maximise The Likelihood of Success – Set Better Goals
As you begin to set goals for yourself, be mindful of what truly motivates you. Ensure that these goals are aligned with your key beliefs and values. Make sure that these goals are important to you, and that there is significant value in pursuing them. The goals you choose to dedicate your life and time to need to be worthwhile. Take note of where your goals will fall into ‘the bigger picture’. Ask yourself:
- Are they relevant?
- What is my level of interest in the outcome?
- Am I excited about putting in the work required to achieve this goal?
Make Your Process Tangible
A great way to hold yourself accountable in pursuing your goals, would be to put them in writing and place them where they’ll always be visible. This way you’re reminded of where you’re headed and what is required of you to get to the end point. Too often people get caught up in the moment of making big plans, much like when everybody makes New Year’s resolutions, only to slack when it comes to actioning those plans. Having a poster, checklist, or even a reminder notification set up on your mobile device, will go a long way in keeping you on your toes. Another way to stick to it, is to have a designated ‘accountability partner’ whose primary role is to give you nudge every now and then, keeping you focused on accomplishing your goals.
Get Your Game Plan Ready
You cannot achieve a goal without having key milestones and a deadline. Setting up a foolproof plan, prioritising each step you’ll have to take towards your end goal, will shape your plan of action. Decide what type of budget you’ll need, where you’ll get your resources from, how you’ll manage risk and how much time you’ll need to fulfill each task. By doing this, you’ll have a clear understanding of the work that will need to be done, and you’ll better your chances of staying on track.
Remember To practice Patience
As the saying goes: “Nothing worth having comes easy”. Working towards a goal takes time and diligence. Give yourself the space you’ll need to take things one step at a time. You don’t want to get too ahead of yourself and end up making avoidable mistakes that could be detrimental to your end goal. Set out a clear plan for each week and leave some breathing room for ad hoc tasks and spontaneous last minute moves – enjoy the journey while you’re on it.
Give Yourself Incentives
Often we get demotivated and feel like we’re getting nowhere when we don’t take time to celebrate small successes on the way to our ultimate goal. Rewarding yourself for your achievements could boost morale and inspire you to keep working diligently. However, try not to undermine your efforts by choosing a reward that could potentially set you back. For example, after working hard for a few months and making gains, taking a holiday could be just what you need to reset and refresh. But be careful of taking too much time off, getting lazy, and losing momentum.
Evaluate Your Goals
Goal setting is a process, and although having a plan will strengthen your chances of achieving your goal, things change with time and updates may need to be made. Evaluating your game plan and end goal periodically is an important part of this process. Never settle for the bare minimum and check to see if your goals are still relevant to you and your lifestyle. Checking in with yourself and taking stock of all the progress you’ve made is a healthy step in going for your goals. Think about what you’ve done so far, how you accomplished it, and what you’ve learned from the experience. Taking time to extract these lessons will increase your productivity, as you’ll be able to make adjustments, and even more, you’ll be able to apply these outcomes to your future goal setting experience.
*For more essential business tips and tricks, check out our bumper 16th edition of the Standard Bank Top Women Leaders publication on Issuu – Digital Publishing Platform – here.
*Stay up to date with all the latest on Top Women in SA, by signing up to the Standard Bank Top Women newsletter – here.