When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you: this means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.
Goals can be long-term, intermediate, or short-term. The primary difference is the time required to achieve them. Short-term goals expect accomplishment in a short period of time, such as trying to get a bill paid in the next few days. The definition of a short-term goal need not relate to any specific length of time. In other words, one may achieve (or fail to achieve) a short-term goal in a day, week, month, year, etc. The time-frame for a short-term goal relates to its context in the overall time line that it is being applied to. For instance, one could measure a short-term goal for a month-long project in days; whereas one might measure a short-term goal for someone's lifetime in months or in years. Planners usually define short-term goals in relation to long-term goals.
If you’re working towards becoming fit and you have set the smaller goals “to eat more healthily,” “to run a 5K,” and “to swim 1 mile, 3 days per week,” you may find that you do not have the time or energy to do all of those things at once. You can prioritize; if you want to run a marathon, first running a 5K may be more important to your goal than swimming every week. You may want to continue eating better, because that is good for your overall health in addition to helping you run.
Break the big picture down into smaller and more specific goals. Consider areas of your life that you either want to change or that you feel you would like to develop with time. Areas might include: career, finances, family, education, or health. Begin to ask yourself questions about what you'd like to achieve in each area and how you would like to approach it within a five year time frame.
Remember that change is part of life, and that means you need to be flexible. You may require an alternative plan if things aren’t adding up the way they should. Don’t become so focused on your goals that you forget what your larger vision is. Is it time to make some sweeping changes and alter your course? If so, better to do it sooner rather than later.
To make sure that your goal is motivating, write down why it's valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, "If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?" You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.
To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them. You can't simply say, "I want" and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve, and ends with a lot of hard work to actually do it. In between, there are some very well-defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.
So first, we have to make sure we're not shortchanging ourselves when we're setting goals. If the goal is no stretch for us, there's no point to it. For example, if I set a goal to run 2 km every day and I already run 1.8 km every day, I'm not challenging myself. Worse, I'm probably boring myself. A much better goal might be to participate in and finish a particular race. That would be more of a challenge, and it's challenge that keeps us interested.
When you stand on the beach and watch the waves hit the shore, do you think there’s any end to the water? There is, of course, but we can’t comprehend it, so we think seawater is endlessly abundant. You would never deny a bucketful to a child building a sand castle because you can refill that bucket again and again. That’s how the abundance mindset works. You give away praise, recognition, ideas, knowledge and money because you know there’s plenty to go around. What you give away will come back to you a thousand times over.
Goal displacement occurs when the original goals of an entity or organization are replaced over time by different goals. In some instances, this creates problems, because the new goals may exceed the capacity of the mechanisms put in place to meet the original goals. New goals adopted by an organization may also increasingly become focused on internal concerns, such as establishing and enforcing structures for reducing common employee disputes. In some cases, the original goals of the organization become displaced in part by repeating behaviors that become traditional within the organization. For example, a company that manufactures widgets may decide to do seek good publicity by putting on a fundraising drive for a popular charity, or having a tent at a local county fair. If the fundraising drive or county fair tent is successful, the company may choose to make this an annual tradition, and may eventually involve more and more employees and resources in the new goal of raising the most charitable funds, or having the best county fair tent. In some cases, goals are displaced because the initial problem is resolved or the initial goal becomes impossible to pursue. A famous example is the March of Dimes, which began as an organization to fund the fight against polio, but once that disease was effectively brought under control by the polio vaccine, transitioned to being an organization for combating birth defects.