Set them. Achieve them. Live the life you want.
This article is all about #goals and how they can benefit you. We believe that goal setting is vital, to give you focus and direction to achieve the life you deserve. If you want to feel more energised at work, spend more time with your family, go on more holidays, grow your business, make more money, or simply be happier... read our summary now! If you’d like the full whitepaper, click the download button at the end of this article for more insights on goals.
Why set goals?
Top-level athletes, successful people, and high achievers all set goals. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and can help to motivate you by triggering behaviours. It helps you to organise your time and your resources so that you can get the most from your life, and enjoy it along the way. By identifying goals and writing them down you’re already more likely to achieve them and be more successful.
Many people pick their ambitions by looking at everyone else, but if you consciously figure out what you want to achieve, you can move up a level. Switch out of achievement autopilot by setting goals that you've actually chosen, not that people have chosen for you.
“Setting goals is the first step towards turning the invisible, into the visible.”
How to set goals
The first step in setting goals is knowing exactly where you are now. Then, you can set about working out where you want to be in the future, and decide how you’re going to get there.
We created a Kickstart Questionnaire which will tell you where you are now and help identify which areas of your personal and business life are a priority. If you’d like a copy, just get in touch!
To determine your vision, and what goals need to be set to achieve it, it’s useful to break down the areas of your life into distinct sections, like time spent on ‘family’, ‘fitness’ and ‘working on your business’. Then, estimate the percentage of your waking time that you spend in each area, and write next to that the percentage of time that you wish you spent. If there’s a gap between where you are now, and where you want to be, then you need to do something about it.
At first, instead of focusing on the specific detail of the goal, you should think about how you’ll feel when you achieve it. What we mean by this is don’t just think of goals like “I want my business to turnover £10 million” as that goal isn’t motivating enough. Think about what you want to be doing every day along the way, so that you can enjoy the journey as you build your business to be financially successful. You can still aim for the same destination, but you’re thinking about it in a more structured way.
WHY you should be SMART
Being SMART is a great way of setting powerful goals and giving yourself the best chance of achieving them.
Your goal must be clear and well-defined. Vague goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide enough direction. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up e.g. ‘Retire at 62 with £750,000’ rather than ‘Retire with a lot of money’.
For a goal to be measurable you need to include a monetary amount, a percentage of working time, a number of days or some other quantity. The benefit of setting a goal with a measurement is it enables you to see whether or not the goal has been met.
Awesome can be defined as ‘extremely impressive or daunting’. Being impressive means they’ll be inspiring to yourself and others, and being daunting (just outside of your comfort zone) means they are significant enough to make a big impact.
“The reason people don’t achieve success is not because they set their goals too high and miss them, it’s because they set them too low.”
A realistic goal just means something that is actually achievable. If you run a business and you need to be present in the office 8 hours a day, then you’re probably not going to be able to achieve a goal of spending 4 hours a day exercising. Try and think creatively about what can be achieved too...maybe you could exercise by creating a gym at work?
It’s important to remember that you might set out with what you think is a realistic goal, but over time it may become clear that it’s not working. If a goal isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it.
“There is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in a different direction.”
Time bound just means setting yourself a deadline. It’s no use saying “I want to lose 6lb” if you don’t say when you want to lose it by! But, if you say “I want to lose 6lb by the end of the year.”
“A goal without a date is just a dream.”
Start with why
Being SMART will only get you so far. You need to ask yourself ‘WHY?’ you’re setting your goals. Here’s an example of a goal which is specific, measurable, awesome, realistic, time-bound and also includes a why:
“I will acquire 3 new clients for my health and wellbeing coaching business within 3 months by asking for referrals, launching a social media marketing campaign, and networking with local businesses. This will allow me to grow my business and increase my revenue, so I can help more people in the world be the happiest and healthiest version of themselves.”
There are many different goal-setting methodologies and the most important thing is to choose one which works for you. We like process goals because they benefit you by helping to combat subconscious thinking in the way that they are worded.
Some examples of process goals are:
- “I am getting fitter”
- “I am living a healthier lifestyle”
- “My will power is getting stronger”
- “I am moving rapidly towards financial security”
The most important differences between process goals and SMART goals are that process goals are stated in the present and are positive. Most people write goals for the future, but if you write them in the present it can really help to overturn subconscious behaviours, as the brain is less likely to ignore instructions that are being given to it in this way. So, instead of “Don’t eat crisps” say “I’m eating more fruit and it’s making me feel great.”
There are lots of other goal setting methodologies, and we’ve recommended a book at the end of this white paper on OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), the method that Google uses. We don’t want you to get hung up on the differences, you just need to choose a way that works for you.
How to achieve goals
Once you’ve set yourself goals the key to achieving them is consistent and persistent effort in the direction of your goals. We found some interesting (and sad) statistics that only 1 in 7 heart attack victims change their behaviours after hospitalisation; they quit smoking, quit drinking, or exercise more to avoid another attack. Sadly, the other 6 don’t stick to these new habits because it’s too difficult. They’re too set in their ways to change!
Angela Duckworth, the founder and CEO of Character Lab talks about this effort and belief as ‘grit’. She says:
Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely, for the moment, you want something. It’s about having an ‘ultimate concern' – a goal you care so much about that it gives meaning to everything you do.
We’ve mentioned your subconscious and conscious minds a couple of times. Another key to achieving goals is understanding the difference between the two, then using this knowledge to affect the stickiness of your goals. Some neuro scientists argue that as much as 95% of thinking is done by the subconscious mind, this is learned routines, habits and patterns that have been reinforced since you were born. So, it’s going to take a lot of hard work, and consistent and persistent effort, to achieve goals that require a change in behaviour.
The brain cannot process negatives directly. It processes it as a positive and then cognitively turns it into a negative. So, if you want to give up chocolate. Setting a goal such as “Don’t eat chocolate” will be processed as “eat chocolate.”
Personal vs business goals - is there a difference?
Personal and business goals are intrinsically linked and you need to make sure they’re aligned to give yourself the best chance of success. It may be that business growth is going to help you achieve your business goals, which will in turn help you achieve your personal goals of going on more holidays, but you can’t have one without the other.
It works both ways too. You might have a personal goal of being fitter and healthier, but unless you achieve this goal you probably won’t be the best version of yourself at work, which means you’ll be less productive and business growth will be slower and you might not be able to go on those holidays, so it’s an ongoing cycle.
There is one area where these two types of goals are different, and that is where personal goals are personal to you, business goals usually need to inspire a whole team of people. One way of ensuring this is getting everyone involved in setting the goals.
The following success story is from a business owner who attended a 2-year growth programme, where the first step was setting goals for growth.
Case study: The Debt Advisor Ltd
Setting goals for growth was life-changing for Beverley, business owner of The Debt Advisor. As a leader she knew she needed to implement change and guide her team to achieve the firm’s goals so she joined a growth programme. Before she joined she was busy working in the business, not on it, and had stopped investing time and money into marketing which had impacted business growth and direction. After attending she set goals which have resulted in better communication throughout the team, more ideal clients being attracted to the firm and significant growth in the business. She’s also moved to new state-of-the-art offices where the facilities make for a happier and higher-performing team. None of this would have been achieved if she didn’t step back and identify that there was a gap between where the business was and where she wanted it to be, and then implement goals to get there.
Sometimes you might need help in formulating and achieving your goals and if this is the case we really suggest you talk to your adviser or a business coach. It has been proven time and time again that having a coach is hugely beneficial in helping you to achieve your goals and get where you want to be.
“It is easy to sit up and take notice, what is difficult is getting up and taking action.”
List of books about setting or achieving goals, recommended by the Hallidays team:
- Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, by Heidi Grant Halvorson
- Awaken the Giant Within, by Tony Robbins
- Good to Great, by Jim Collins
- Creating Your Best Life, by Caroline Miller
- Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs – John Doerr
- Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
- The Chimp Paradox, by Prof Steve Peters
- Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin
- Head Strong, by Tony Buzan