Are you setting too many goals?


So you’ve set your goals for the year. Are they S.M.A.R.T? Now what are you going to do? Have you made an actual plan for achieving those goals?  You see, it’s not enough to simply write down our goals, we have to sit down and work out exactly what we are going do to make them happen.

This year I started to follow the standard goal setting process advocated by many of the bloggers I follow and from whom I receive emails. This involved setting a lot of goals in a lot of different areas in my life. I thought that I needed goals for health, family, work, personal development, my blog and finances. You name it and we are encouraged to set a goal around it.

I sat down and tried to set some goals in these areas but quickly became overwhelmed with the amount of work that was going to be required. You see, one of the common mistakes people make when setting goals for themselves is having too many. We forget that setting the goal is only the beginning and we then have to work out the action steps we are going to take to get it done. There is only a limited amount of time in each day and by spreading ourselves thinly between lots of different goals we are virtually guaranteeing that we will not achieve any of them.

What I propose instead is to choose one goal to focus upon. In my case I thought about all of the things I wanted to achieve this year including creating a product for Lifewrangling, saving for an overseas holiday and spending more time with friends and realised that there was one overarching goal that, if achieved, would enable all of the other goals to occur.

Like many people, I find that my clothes are fitting a little more snugly, I have become less able to run about with the kids, I regularly feel tired, I often eat outside of meal times, my food choices at these times are not good and I just feel uncomfortable overall. I knew that unless I was able to find a way of becoming fitter and gaining more energy, I would be unable to do all of the things I wanted to do. Improving my health will assist all of the other things to occur so therefore becomes my primary goal. Of course I will write this down as a SMART goal before I go any further.

Another thing we are encouraged to do is to set goals for the entire year. For me this is just not logical. A year seems like an awfully long time when we are at the beginning of it. The end is so far away that it is easy to believe there is plenty of time to achieve our goals and then we forget to actually start. Before you know it, the end of the year has arrived and we are no closer to achieving the goal than we were 12 months before.

Given that my primary goal is around my health and fitness, I don’t want to have to wait 12 months to see results. I need to set some smaller goals to give me encouragement as I progress or I will stop long before my overall goal has been achieved.

Ok, so I decided upon my primary goal. The next thing I needed to do was to break it down in to actionable parts.

The steps I might take to achieve this goal include:
1) Doing some reading about diet and exercise to become better informed.
2) Having a look at my sleep habits to see where they can be improved.
3) Analysing my eating habits and taking steps to improve what I put into my mouth.
4) Working out how I will fit more exercise in to my day without compromising time with my family.
5) Downloading a fitness app- perhaps running or yoga.
6) Considering what I will do to give myself some downtime for rest and recouperation, perhaps some meditation or other personal treat.

In order to achieve my goal I realised that I would also need to make a number of mini goals. I might create a mini SMART goal around the weight I want to be, the type of exercise I want to do eg. cardio, strength training, flexibility, the foods I want to include in my diet and the sleep I want to get each night. Each goal will have a timeline and action steps to achieve it.

Do you see why it is important to choose only a few very important goals and not try to spread ourselves too thinly?

My challenge to you today is to think about the one thing that will make the biggest difference in your life this year. Set yourself a SMART goal for it, break that goal down in to smaller goals if necessary and identify the actions you will take to achieve it. Once you have done this you will have done more than 90% of the population and will take your achievements to the next level.

I would wish you luck for the year ahead but you don’t need luck, you have your goals and an action plan. Get out there and achieve!