Self Management: Personal Goal Planning

Striving for success can be daunting. It takes commitment; there are hurdles to jump and the possibility of failure. So we tell ourselves to leave it: if we don’t try then we can’t fail. Or we give ourselves get-out clauses. “I’ll just try this though I’ll probably fail” is a great protection against disappointment. It can even produce a bizarre feeling of victory if proved right (“I was right to be sceptical. I knew it would end this way.”)

The relief can be huge – you’ll not have to keep striving! However, all of these states of mind don’t make for fulfillment. Okay, so you may be comfortable as it is, but moving out of your comfort zone can be greatly rewarding.

Goals and the Changing Self

The first thing to do is to look at what you want to achieve. This could be anything, however big or small. We all have goals and dreams, even if our life is seemingly settled. We are always evolving as individuals. For this reason alone it is a very good idea to keep one eye on your desires and goals, and how to achieve them. Otherwise you continue down a path that you’d subconsciously stopped enjoying long ago.

Lists and Timetables

Once you have made the commitment to look at yourself and your goals it is essential that you write it all down. List all of your goals; however they may conflict with each other. Once you have them all down you can begin to untangle them. Which ones compliment each other and which ones are mutually exclusive? Here you will have to make decisions, set priorities and commit to certain goals over others. You should also give yourself a timetable, with a number of steps. Some goals can seem completely unobtainable until you break them down into key components and stages. Then it can be as simple as just following the road – you give yourself a roadmap to success.

Energy and Confidence

Without energy your desires cannot be fulfilled. Energy gives you persistence. You get energy by bringing your goals into the centre of your life. If you continually tell yourself that they aren’t important, that you can put it all off, then the energy will be diverted into other areas. However, once they become important it will be possible to keep that focus and energy. Whatever point on the route you are, don’t downplay your goals to others. That only serves to make them less to yourself. This is especially important at the goal planning stage -– start the process as you mean to go on!

Doing, not Thinking

In your initial goal planning stage you should include plans to get yourself out into the world. Putting yourself out there, at the risk of failure, is vital. The longer you leave it the more difficult it will become and the more you will think rides on it; each knock back will be harder to take.

A Hard Nose

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Every time you hit a setback, steel yourself and continue. When you have proved yourself once you can do it again, and again, and again! Work out what went wrong and just set it right, or learn from it. A mental picture can help. Perhaps you want to visualise how your life was before you started the process towards goal achievement or perhaps you want to visualise the last time you overcame a seemingly insurmountable obstacle? Writing a word at the top of your list that evokes that vision can help.

Embracing Change

Goals do change: uncertainty and change is part of life. Having constructed your route towards your goals, do not be held hostage to it. Look closely at yourself and how you are changing during the journey – perhaps revision is needed. Staying true to yourself involves not pursuing goals that an earlier self wanted and your current self doesn’t. If you realise that you want something different now you must change direction. In fact, this involves going back to the first step above. It takes guts but it’s also an exhilarating experience of growth and exploration. Just be decisive when the need for it arrives. Desires (and so goals) do change over time.

This is why goal planning is incredibly useful. By recognising what you want to change in your life and what you want to achieve, you can put together an action plan to get there. What do you want to be different tomorrow, and in a week, and in a month, and in a year, and in five years? Remember the small changes are vital. Don’t try to build Rome in a day – the Romans didn’t manage it!

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