The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In life, we often set goals to improve ourselves and our circumstances. To get where we want to go, and to become the sort of people we want to be, taking those crucial first steps in the right direction is indispensable. To accomplish your different types of goals, you need to be clear on what those goals are and work consistently toward achieving them.
The ability to set and progressively meet goals is a key skill that, when acquired, will set you up for success. It’s at precisely this point that many of us struggle. We may know what we want to accomplish, but we don’t always know where to begin or how to stay focused until we complete the journey.
Different Types of Goals
In our rich and complicated lives, there are many different tasks we can set ourselves to further enrich our lives. The diverse types of tasks and goals we set will likely require us to be flexible in our approach to suit the goal. And so, the steps you take will depend on the type of goal you’re trying to accomplish.
For example, you can set a relationship goal of getting married by the end of the year in Maui, but it’s not a goal you can set and accomplish by yourself if you want to get married for love. There’s another person who’s a part of the equation, and you must factor them into it.
A goal that requires the cooperation and input of others will require the capacity to negotiate and work together to accomplish that goal. Later, as we talk about setting and achieving goals, keep in mind that what may work for one type of goal may not translate or carry over easily to another type of goal, and you may have to adapt your approach.
As there are different areas of life, there are several types of goals, including:
Professional development or career goals
Whatever position you currently occupy at your workplace, you can set a goal to increase the depth of your skillset or to get promoted and attain more responsibility in your firm. If you’re unemployed, you may set a goal of finding employment so that you can use your gifts in a workplace, or you might decide to start and grow your own business.
Spiritual development goals
All living things must grow, and that applies to us as human beings and especially as spiritual beings. You can set goals in this area of life such as getting closer to God, learning how to pray, being more connected in community, learning how to read the Bible, and much else.
Personal development goals
Personal development is a broad category, but the types of goals you can set under this banner include getting healthier; learning a new sport or deepening your skills in it; learning a new skill such as speaking a language, learning how to drive or how to cook; being ready for a marathon; getting into a relationship or deepening your existing commitment; starting a family; buying a house or car; overcoming shyness, and so on.
There may be other areas not indicated here, and in each of those, you can set goals so that you flourish as you improve your life and the lives of others.
Setting Your Goals
You may decide to set goals for one or several areas of your life. In many cases, people multitask and set goals on various fronts, working to accomplish those goals simultaneously. You can be learning a new language while also taking steps to start a new family, or you can be getting healthier while pushing for greater responsibility at work. Goals are typically set for yourself, and you take responsibility for getting things done.
How do you go about setting goals? One acronym that is often used for goal setting is SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
A Specific goal is one that is clear. When you articulate the goal, you know precisely what you must do and what accomplishing it will look like. Saying “I want to grow spiritually” is admirable, but it’s a non-specific goal. It’s more helpful and clearer to say, “I want to read a chapter a day of the Bible to grow spiritually.”
You know exactly what the goal is, and you can say unequivocally whether you’ve achieved the goal. If you’re not specific with your goals, it’s hard to know when you’ve achieved them, and that can demotivate you.
A Measurable goal, as one might expect, can be measured. The measurability of a goal indicates that you’re making progress and helps you reevaluate where necessary. If you’re trying to lose weight, for instance, having milestones along the way such as the number of pounds you want to lose each week on the way to your weight loss goal will help you see what progress you’re making and provide you with the capacity to reevaluate where necessary.
An Attainable goal is one you can accomplish in a reasonable timeframe. For most people, the goal of learning a new language in a week is an uphill, if not impossible task. When you set goals, investigate whether the timeframe you’re setting is feasible and if there are any preliminary requirements necessary before you get started. If you want to travel overseas, for instance, getting a passport and a visa are necessary preliminaries.
A Relevant goal aligns with who you are, what you value, and what you want to accomplish in life. The goals you set should line up with and contribute to the enhancement of these things. If you’re already retired and don’t need to work, setting goals for professional development wouldn’t be relevant for you, for example.
Lastly, a Timely goal is a goal with a timeframe attached to it. We pointed out earlier that you may set a goal to read a certain number of chapters of the Bible each day. That daily timeframe helps you to stay motivated and make the goal a priority.
Taking Steps to Meet Your Goals
If you’ve set your SMART goals, the next few steps will be just as crucial for you to accomplish those goals. There are far too many unused gym memberships and discarded New Year’s resolutions for us to remain naïve to the fact that setting goals and meeting them aren’t the same thing.
You must start working to meet your goals as soon as possible. Taking that first step goes a long way. Register for those classes or download that language learning app, then get going. Buy that gym membership then wake up early tomorrow morning or make time after work to go. Just. Get. Going.
Start small and stay consistent.
Many people lose their motivation because they come roaring out the gate, only to lose steam a little down the way. There’s no use coming out strong only to fizzle out. Rather, you can start small and stay consistent – that’s the best way to make long-term gains. When setting your goals, factor in that you’ll need time to make the changes needed to reach your goal.
You can go on the journey toward your goals by yourself, but you can also invite others to help keep you accountable. Sometimes, having others with you can serve as motivation when you feel a bit deflated. It’s no surprise that people pursue fitness in groups, whether online or in person. As social creatures, it makes sense that the example and strength of others impact our momentum.
Consider a coach or Christian counselor.
Whatever your goal might be, consider engaging a coach or scheduling an appointment with a Christian counselor to help you reflect on your goals, your progress, setbacks, and so much more. From lifestyle, relationship, career, and other types of coaches and counselors, you can create a support structure around yourself that will position you for success. Feel free to contact me or browse the online counselor directory to schedule an appointment to meet your needs.
“Goals”, Courtesy of Markus Winkler, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Reaching for the Sky”, Courtesy of Razvan Chisu, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Planning”, Courtesy of Magnet.me, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “You Got This”, Courtesy of Sydney Rae, Unsplash.com, CC0 License