Smart goal setting in 5 steps

Smart goal setting

When people take the time to think about and write down a goal, they tend to stretch themselves a little bit. Without a clearly defined goal, you’re likely to repeat what you did last year. There’s no strong motivation to learn a new skill or to broaden your knowledge base to be able to reach the next goal.

smart goal setting

In Joseph’s early years in Australia, he would write out a set of goals and action plan on the 1st of January every year.

When I was a kid at school, I made the decision to become a table tennis player – and to be the best player in the school team; that was my goal. In setting that goal, I knew I had to improve my skill level as a player, and practice hours on end to be able to realise that goal.

In my early years after arriving in Australia, I got into the habit of writing my goals for the year on the 1st of January every year. It was a genuinely exciting time for me because it was when I learned that I can define my own results for the year; to begin with the end in mind. Back then, my goals were about basic financial outcomes, for example, I used to write down the money I needed for the year to fulfil my family’s needs and aspirations.

Visualise yourself achieving the goal

Before I had even learned about the power of visualisation, I’d already made it a habit. Back when I was in high school, and considering my options for the future, I decided that I would like to go to uni and my goal was to gain admission into one of the best universities in China.

Immediately, I imagined myself walking down the Peking University campus, and what I’d do there and how great it would feel. Returning to this image gave me the energy and drive to continue to be disciplined enough to put in the otherwise overwhelming number of hours of study that would be required to get there.

Commit to a plan of action

The difference between wishful thinking and goal setting is committing to a plan of action. Without a concrete plan of action, your goal will remain an aspiration, as opposed to something that is possible to achieve. So for me, when I would write down my goals on January 1st every year, I would also write down the plan of action that would help me achieve them.

Write down what you’re prepared to give up

Part of committing to a plan of action involves working out what you’re prepared to give up in order to achieve your goals. Because there will be sacrifice – and that sacrifice may mean working harder than everybody else is – getting up earlier to get to the gym, practicing more at a sport or instrument, studying more, or simply, finding more hours in the day to get through your work faster.

smart goal setting

Joseph gave up playing the violin while he was studying to gain a place at Peking University.

When I set the goal of getting into Peking University, I literally stopped everything else, I stopped playing the violin, I stopped playing table tennis, I even stopped setting off firecrackers at Chinese New Year. And I didn’t even notice that I’d stopped, I was just so focused on my end goal.

In my early years in Australia, when I was working in insurance sales, I wrote down that I’d be happy to give up watching TV (something I used to love) in order to have more time to achieve my financial goals. For example, this would give me more time to make calls and spend time with potential customers.

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