• Stephen Baines

The Power of Goal Setting

This week, as a part of a month focused on Motivation, I've been quite vocal about the art and value of goal setting. So here I bring some thoughts together on how setting goals can benefit you, maybe much more than you think.

Goal setting, as we have heard many times, is the very first step towards realising our dreams. They set the target. We may have dreams but they likely will never become reality without any goals in mind. In last weeks blog, we explored a visioning technique and put this out into action before looking at more micro-steps along with some conditioning. A week has gone by though so let's reflect for a moment...

How are you doing in relation to your goals? What action have you taken?

I'll be honest, and the majority of you will not have done anything! Doing the exercise will have triggered some Dopamine so you felt great. But then... life happened. I seriously hope I am wrong with you, and if so, stick a comment below about what action you took.

Here is where this blog comes in. This is intended to act as a boost of confidence. A motivation to picking up your awesome work from last week AND TAKING ACTION.

So, here were 6 essential reasons for us to set our goals in the right way and keep revisiting them.

1. Goals as the Force of Motivation

Goals drive us towards our achievements as it acts as the force of our motivation. To connect to our inner force or desire, goal setting is the first step we take towards our achievements. In both short term and long term, it gives us a target to aim at, a destination we wish to travel to or even a particular number we try to arrive at.

This is the point which gets us excited and passionate as we work very diligently towards our goals. While it is common that our efforts to achieve these goals are full of enthusiasm and energy, in the beginning, it is important for us to know how much these goals personally mean to ourselves.

In such a way, setting goals which we know we would truly be passionate about in the long term will help us accomplish our missions in a more sustainable manner. After all, if we are not consistently motivated, we would suffer from the burnouts of trying to achieve meaningless goals.

The exercise last week was not intended to just be a hit of dopamine. It was intended to be the start of you shaping your future and acting as a motivational catalyst to realise your dreams. Do you need to go and revisit it? If so, click here

2. Goals as Visual Representations of Our Dreams

Imaginations, visualizations, fantasies or even dreams are not just unrealistic concepts based on our utilizable knowledge if we have set our goals towards them. Because of this, goal setting plays a vital role in ensuring our belief in our methods, our analysis of our results and our efforts in chasing after every resource needed.

Instead of setting one goal as the only way to reach our dreams, we can conceptualize our dreams as a set of puzzles and the goals we set are pieces of puzzles we need to design, fix or even match to complete this set of puzzles. We can also regard each goal as a stepping stone towards our desired destination. As a result of achieving each goal, like finding each puzzle, we are closer to assembling the whole picture of our dreams (the complete set of puzzles).

I love the idea of massively simplifying our grand vision. Breaking them down into small bite-sized chunks. This creates a constant flurry of highly motivating and dopamine hitting activity. It keeps us motivated as we are regularly crossing things off our list. Going visual with this can help as I wrote here.

Remember do not be afraid of your goals! Turn the big hairy ambitious goals into small fluffy hits of dopamine.

3. Goals to Track Progress

Since some goals are the foundations for us to build on to reach another goal, arranging them to be accomplished first will be vital for us to track the progress of our work. As mentioned above, goals are like stepping stones to our big hairy ambitious goal. Goals also serve to help us track our progress in our work. This can be interpreted as accomplishing each goal will bring us closer to achieving our targets.

Whereas achieving our goals means increasing our chances of succeeding, we also have to track our work in progress by assessing what can be done and the amount of time needed. These goals can also be inter-related to one another as we cannot progress with specific work if one objective or goal is not reached.

One particular situation to exemplify such a concept is the work of organising a birthday party for our family.

The first step is always to confirm the date, place and time as well as who you would like to attend. Then it is to send out the invitations and then confirming the number of guests attending. Without these first set of steps, it would be challenging to arrange parts of the party like the amount of food and drinks, the decoration and other aspects which will complete the party. The invitations and the number of guests attending are the two vital factors to the success of the party.

In conclusion, some work cannot simply progress without completing certain goals first. Prioritisation is important.

4. Goals as Promises to the Self

The goals we have set to achieve are also promises we made to ourselves. In recording our goal-setting process, it is also important that we ensure these concrete goals and give ourselves a particular timeline to achieve each goal.

Other than that, these ‘promises’ also keep us responsible for every one of our actions which lead us to the failure or success of our plans.

With this sense of responsibility instilled in ourselves, this allows us to re-evaluate our actions and scrutinise the consequences whether in a short period or in the long term. One can definitely take pride in their success when recalling the decisions taken years ago.

On the other hand, if one fails or accomplishes less than the set goal, then it is a definite sign to change ways to improve and achieve whatever the set goal is.

5. Goals as the Direction of our Focus

Setting goals also means setting our mind, our heart and our soul to the target. In another metaphorical sense, we simply cannot shoot an arrow without a target. Upon setting our goals, we will know how, where and when to use our talent and abilities. Like a magnifying glass concentrates the sunlight towards the leaf, the leaf is then burnt.

The sunlight describes our abilities whereas the magnifying glass is likened to our focus on the target. The leaf is naturally the target. Without the magnifying glass (our focus), the target would never be reached despite the amount of heat the sunlight supplies (our potentials).

We can only obtain this sense of direction in our journey to our dreams when we specify the goals right at the beginning. Sometimes we cannot avoid the fact that our focus might change and we have to maintain or to a desperate extent, defend our focus to achieve our goals.

One of the many ways of maintaining focus is changing our lifestyles to reduce distractions such as declining invitations to meaningless parties or occasionally saying no to outing with friends. This reduces the resources spent on distractions and in turn, increases productivity for us to work on our objectives.

6. Goals to Develop Our Potentials

Our potential is nurtured through our progress in achieving the goals we set from the beginning. This means setting the goals which are direct opportunities for us to expand our knowledge, sharpen our skills and enriching our experience will benefit us in the future.

Without such goals, we might not be able to develop ourselves out of our comfort zone as we are subjected to the comfortable and safe routines of our daily lives. Because of not setting goals or not having suitable goals, some of our potentials never grow or are just locked within ourselves.

On the contrary, the goals which we have set will enable us to challenge ourselves to adapt to new environments and new situations. Besides, setting certain expectations on ourselves would only convince us to do our best and expand our limits. Weight loss or gain targets, running time limits, business profits or even following a planned diet are all personal goals for us to challenge ourselves.

Naturally, we reap what we sow and sometimes what we sow might be more than just the reward itself. Once we can appreciate the improvements we gained through accomplishments, we will also achieve a sense of self-fulfilment. With this feeling of satisfying ourselves, we can work on other goals with better motivation and energy. We might not even feel that the obstacles in the later stages are as challenging as before too.


(1) FREE Month of Waking Up App: I am a massive fan of the Sam Harris Waking Up App. It has quickly become my go-to meditation App. As an offer, I am fortunate to be able to gift you 1 month of usage on the App to give it a go. Sign-up here

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