Whether you want to get a handle on cluttered closets or break a bad habit, whether you want to re-organize your home office or re-organize your entire life, effective goal-setting will be your key to success.
Countless research studies have been done and countless books written on the subject of goal achievement. If you feel stuck in trying to make changes in your life it is recommended that you avail yourself of a good book on the topic at your local bookstore or among the resources available online.
Our own goal here at Augusta Home Organizing Services is to help our clients not only organize their homes but, to the extent possible, organize their lives. The two go hand in hand. It's hard to have an organized home if your life is in chaos and it's hard to have an organized life if your home is in chaos. It has been our experience that those whose homes have gotten out of control are often struggling with one or more difficult life-issues that have caused them to lose focus and motivation and undermined their ability to get things done.
That's where goal-setting can come into play. Learning how to effectively set and pursue goals can be the first important step in making steady, gradual changes in your life that, over time, will lead to a dramatic transformation.
Listed below are the key steps necessary for successful goal achievement. If you follow them faithfully they will take you where you want to go. They will help you achieve your dreams, big or small. In a nutshell these key steps are: 1) Figure out what's important to you; 2) Identify specific goals to help you achieve what's important to you; 3) Break big goals down into smaller subgoals; 4) Prioritize your goals; 5) Visualize your goals coming true; 6) Set timelines and deadlines for your goals; 7) Stay goal-conscious; 8) Use daily To-Do lists; 9) Enlist the help of others in pursuing your goals; 10) Make your life compatible with your goals; 11) Maintain a balanced life.
The Secret to Setting and Achieving Goals
1) Figure out What's Important to You
The very first thing you have to do is get clear on what you want out of life, what's important to you, what do you value: Family? Education? Career? Health? Religion? Hobbies? Travel? Activism? Do you want security or adventure? Do you desire power, fame, fortune, or love, community, and authenticity? Write down a list of the most important things to you in life. Get clear on what you really want.
2) Identify Specific Goals to Help You Achieve what's Important to You
Compile a list of actions (goals) you can pursue to fulfill your needs and values. It is crucial that you not just mull these goals over in your mind; you need to actually write them down. Many people under-estimate the importance and power of creating written goals. When you put them down on paper (or a computer screen) you are forced to think about them more deeply and in a much more specific way. Just like you can't hit a target unless you can see it, you can't achieve a goal unless you have spelled out very clearly and precisely what the goal is. Vague goals don't work. Specific goals do.
3) Break Big Goals Down into Smaller Subgoals
Almost any goal can be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. Do this for each of your goals and make sure you write there subgoals down as well.
Creating subgoals is another key to successful goal achievement. Why? Because many people tend to feel overwhelmed when they consider all the things they want or need to get done, especially the bigger, more difficult goals they have set for themselves. Feeling overwhelmed leads to fear and despair, which leads to inaction. That's why breaking challenging goals down into simpler baby-steps is important. It allows you to see that achieving a big goal is possible because you can now see that each of the smaller intermediate steps that lead to it are doable.
There is an old riddle: How do you eat an elephant? The answer: One bite at a time. The same is true of big and difficult goals. How do you achieve them? One small step at a time. So make sure you break each of your goals down into however many smaller subgoals is necessary and useful.
4) Prioritize Your Goals
Now prioritize your goals, from most important to least important and re-write them in that new order. You can also prioritize your goals in terms of which ones are more doable at the present moment or which ones are more time-urgent. The point is to focus on first, which ones require the most time and energy overall.
5) Visualize Your Goals coming True
Take time to reflect on the list of goals you have created. Read it over carefully and remind yourself why each goal you've identified is important to you, what need, what value, what dream it will help you fulfill. Now, one by one, visualize yourself achieving each and every goal you have set for yourself. Imagine it coming true - see yourself making it come true.
Studies have shown that visualizing the achievement of goals help make the possibility of success seem more real and compelling to the visualizer and this, in turn, serves to intensify the visualizer's motivation and determination to pursue the goal. So visualize your goals coming true, and believe in yourself and your ability to make it happen.
6) Set Time-Lines and Deadlines for Your Goals
Many a success expert has observed that the difference between a dream and a goal is that a goal has a deadline. And something with a deadline is more likely to be achieved than something without one. Timelines and deadlines focus the mind, give a sense of urgency, and motivate us to take action now and keep taking action as we race to beat the clock and calendar.
No goal or dream can be achieved without action. Timelines and deadlines make you take action. Don't fall into the procrastination trap. Set timelines and deadlines and start taking action in your goals right now!
7) Stay Goal-Conscious
Post a copy of your goals up where you will see them every day - the front of the refrigerator, the bedroom or bathroom mirror, the top of your desk. Keep a copy handy in your pocket or purse too. You can post a copy on your laptop or phone as well. The old saying is true: Out of sight, out of mind. Keep your goals always in sight.
8) Use Daily To-Do Lists
If you have a lot of goals or any big complicated ones that require many steps (subgoals) to complete, it helps to keep a daily To-Do list in addition to your master list of goals. Each new daily To-Do list should contain only those items you plan to work on that day. This technique allows you to focus very clearly and precisely on what you need to do day in and day out as time goes by. It keeps you moving steadily forward toward the final achievement of each goal.
9) Enlist the Help of Others in Pursuing Your Goals
It was the poet John Donne who said that no man is an island entire unto himself. We are social beings and need the love and support of those around us. Your goals are important to you. Let your family and friends know that and ask for their help in pursuing them. Marshaling people to your side who are willing to assist you in working towards your goals is a tremendous asset. It can dramatically increase your ability to achieve whatever you have set out to do.
10) Make Your Life Compatible with Your Goals
Not every goal is possible. If you have two goals that conflict, for example, you must give one up, or at least defer it to another day. Are there at present any circumstances in your life that are incompatible with the pursuit and achievement of any of the goals you have set for yourself? If so, you have to make a choice. Will you keep your life as it is and abandon that goal or will you make whatever changes are necessary to open up a path for the goal to be realized?
You can't indulge in a cigarette habit and become a serious athlete (or achieve a healthy body). You can't cling to a low-stress, low-risk lifestyle if your dream is to quit your day job and take the plunge into starting your own business.
11) Maintain Balance in Your Life
While it is true that those who accomplish the most in this world tend to be goal-oriented people, not everything in life is or should be about goal-seeking. Not everything should be planned and scheduled. The relentless pursuit of goals is a prescription eventual burn-out.
We need an element of spontaneity in our lives. We need space and freedom to just "be" from time to time, to live in the moment. So find the balance for yourself that includes both the determined pursuit of worthy goals and the joyful embrace of life in the here and now, with all its beauty and mystery and surprises.