Goal-Setting and Strategic Planning

Goals are what direct and guide our behavior, whether you realize it or not.  By now, you’ve already accomplished a small series of goals.  You woke up, and got out of bed (unless you’re reading this in bed, then you’ve accomplished your goal of staying in bed).  You took a shower, you brushed your teeth, you left your home to go to work, you pulled out your phone or your laptop and began reading this blog (if reading an article on this blog on a regular basis is a goal of yours, then I have to commend you and thank you for your support).  The fact of the matter is that for the most part, everything we do in life is motivated by satisfying some sort of end result we’re looking to obtain.  So I figured I’d talk about goals, both distal (long-term) and proximal (short-term).

My experience has always been that it’s best to have a distal goal that is made up of a series of proximal goals, so that you can better track your progress along the way.  By doing this, you’re not constantly comparing your current predicament to your desired end goal (i.e., if you want to lose 15 pounds, you won’t be beating yourself up over losing “only” 6 pounds through the first two weeks because you’ll have mapped out a timeline for accomplishing your goal, and should be satisfied with your progress thus far).

Set a timeline and a deadline.  If you don’t meet that deadline…simply set another one.  Be disciplined, but after all it is YOUR goal so you should have some autonomy over when you accomplish it.  In the end, does it really matter if you lost that extra five pounds by that random date you set up? Ask yourself which is more important: accomplishing the goal correctly or accomplishing the goal on time?

I’ll leave you with these bullet points to think about:

  • Make a list of what your goals are, and when you realistically want to achieve them by. The important part here is to be realistic.  It’s great for the goal to be something that will challenge you, and in fact that’s highly encouraged.  But be realistic. For example, if you’re currently bench pressing 150 pounds right now, you probably won’t be able to bench press 300 pounds by this time next week, so please be realistic when setting up your timeline.
  • Make your distal goal a series of proximal goals. This allows you to monitor your progress, and enjoy some of those “small wins” along the way so you can assure yourself that you’re on the right track to successfully obtain that goal.  This also allows you to keep your focus on the journey of your goal attainment, and not just your destination.  For example, if you’d like to save $5,000 over the next calendar year, then figure out how much you need to save weekly or monthly ($96.15/week or $416.67/month) and map out how much you should have saved away during various points of the year to make sure you’re staying on track.
  • Set a deadline. Try to accomplish your goal by a certain date that you decide.  Again, be realistic about the point in time you’d like to achieve your goal by, but remember that if you miss that self-imposed deadline that it’s perfectly okay to replace it with another, realistic and challenging deadline.  After all, it’s your goal and your life, so who’s to tell you when you should accomplish your goal by?
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