What babies teach us about goals

Isn’t it annoying when people keep telling you to set goals?

I mean how can you set goals when all you know is that you are unhappy but you haven’t a clue about what to change. Then you look at at all these go-getters with their lofty goals and think, “I’ll never achieve that!”

Just thinking about setting goals can leave you feeling disheartened, demotivated and wanting to crawl under the duvet. But the truth is that there is an easy way to set goals and achieve your goals that is fun, challenging and you don’t need to be a goal setting guru to do it.

Think about babies. They don’t have grand goals of becoming the next Usain Bolt. No all they want to do is first learn to crawl, then to walk and then to run. This approach has not failed a single human being yet – why? Because instead of trying to pull off a big dream from the get-go, they focus on smaller goals (one at a time) that will lead them to their big dreams.

Apply this approach to your goals and you will see big change happen through smaller increments.

Where to start

You’re probably still thinking that is all fine and well, but I am still clueless as to what I want. The best place to start is to identify the area of your life that is causing you the greatest dissatisfaction:

The area that is causing you the greatest dissatisfaction is the one you should focus on first, for instance Career/Work.

From there ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. Why am I unhappy with my [your area of dissatisfaction]?
  2. What would I like to have happen in my [your area of dissatisfaction] to make me feel happier?
  3. If I knew I couldn’t fail and had no constraints, I would… (Describe in as much detail as possible how your life in this area would be)

The babies’ guide to setting goals

Question 3 asks you to imagine all possibilities without constraint. Describing your perfect life gives you the grand picture to strive towards however it should not be your immediate goal. Remember it is all about taking baby steps.

Using your future vision from question 3 as a guide, break your dream life down into smaller achievable goals. Use 90 day increments so that your goals are long enough to give you a good challenge to work towards, but are not so long that you become demotivated.

Say for instance that your future work vision is you running your own business, working flexible hours and earning £70 000 a month but you are currently in a 9-to-5 job and don’t have a clue what type of business you want to run. This means that you have several steps (or shorter term goals) to achieve before you can realise that vision.

For example, in the next 90 days I want to clearly define the type of business I want to run. Then my next goal is to set up the business and so on.

Be SMART

To set goals, use the SMARTA method. Define your goals so that they are:
Specific – In other words describe the outcome you want to achieve
Measurable – You need to be able to measure progress and have a clear way of knowing when the goal has been achieved
Achievable – You need to ensure that the goal is something within your control and that you can achieve it
Relevant/Realistic – Consider where you are right now and check whether the goal is relevant to you and realistic given your current circumstances
Time-bound – Check whether you can achieve this goal within 90 days or sooner
Aligned – Ensure that your goal is aligned with your future vision and that it also aligns with your core values. (In other words your fundamental beliefs and principles.)

Plan your actions

No goal is achievable without clear action steps. So for each of your 90 day goals define the main actions you need to take in order to achieve that particular goal. For instance defining the type of business action steps could include researching ideas, analysing the market and so on.

Take baby steps

Lastly just like a baby that learns to crawl, then walk and then run, get out your weekly planner and decide what actions you need to take in each week leading up to your 90 day goal date so that you can achieve your desire result within the timeframe you have given yourself.

Your life can only change if you actually take action. Being motivated and disciplined is important to achieving your goals so it is up to you to follow through on your defined actions. If you find self-discipline and motivation a struggle then hire a coach, join a goal support group or join my 90 day goal challenge programme.

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