Goal setting and achieving can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences of life; but it can also feel like a pointless and lonely task, if not done correctly.
Planning for our goals can often be plagued with uncertainties and setbacks that can make us question everything; from our initial idea, to our execution strategies, to our ability to execute the vision.
To learn about goal setting, let’s explore a fun scenario. You wake up one day, and decide you want to leave corporate life behind to pursue your true calling. Becoming a cat groomer. Because cats are life. Cats are the best. Cats are super cute. AmIRight?
How do you go about making this goal happen? How do you create a positive outcome?
Keep on reading, and learn all about goal setting in this easy 8 step-by-step goal setting (and achieving!) guide.
Step 1. Create a positive and specific goal
Outcomes are expressed in the positive. That means that they are things you want, as opposed to things you want to avoid. They are also expressed in specific terms, and that means that they need to be focused on things you can visualise and obtain, as opposed to abstract concepts.
For example: Start you goal setting with objectives like”I want to become the best cat groomer in London’ as opposed to saying “I don’t want to be stuck in my current job’, or ‘I just want to make a living with animals’.
Then, focus on a specific task. For example, say ‘I want to open my own cat grooming shop by the end of the year’.
Focusing on positive and specific goals allow our minds to dream up productive outcomes, and ones that are easy to visualise and contextualise.
Step 2. Take matters into your own hands
Set a goal that puts you in the driver seat, even though you may need others to help you succeed.
For example: Your goal is to go to be a cat groomer, but you need to undertake a course and the money for it. Saying ‘I need the bank to support me’ or ‘I need my boss to be understanding whilst I study’ makes for vague statements that are not outcome based.
Saying ‘I will maintain good credit’ or ‘I will ensure I am clear with my boss and will make the time up at work’ are outcome based solutions, because they put you in charge of the situation, even when you need the support of others.
Step 3. Contextualise
A really great NLP technique is to set your goal with as much context as you can visualise.
Ask yourself where, when, why, and how, and ensure that you have created an ecological goal that fits within the rest of your life.
For instance, say: I want to be admitted to the Central London Cool Cats And Kitten School of Grooming. I want to take part in the June summer session that Carole Baskin hosts. Ideally, I’d like to be qualified by August, and start grooming cats in September.
This allows you to visualise your goal in realistic settings, which help your brain feel it real and possible. Above all, it ensures it fits with the rest of your life, your family goals, your finances or your location.
Step 4. List your resources
When goal setting, taking stock of what you already have helps you appreciate your current status, as well as plan for what you don’t have. There are broadly five categories:
- Objects – Such as cat grooming tools, video tutorials, a space in the garden where you could set up shop.
- People – Family, business contacts, cat-groomer friends that can support you
- Role Models – People in the cat grooming industry you look up to, or people you can talk to about their successful journeys.
- Personal Qualities – Abilities you already have, both behaviourally and role-specific, that will help you succeed; for example: loving cats and animals in general, being patient with clients or difficult animals, being playful.
- Money – Do you have enough? Can you raise enough?
Take note of what you already have that can help you achieve your goal, and what is under your direct control, as well as what is under the control of others and ask yourself:
Step 5. Small Objectives
In NLP, breaking down an abstract idea into smaller pieces is called ‘Chunking Down’. It’s a very useful tool to break down undefined or overwhelming situations, into manageable ones. This is one of best NLP techniques you will ever learn, and it’s not just for goal setting!
For example: Losing 50 pounds, becoming a millionaire, or winning a cat grooming award don’t happen in a day, but you know what can? Losing half a pound. Saving £2. Learning about cat breeds.
Break down your big dream into small, daily, concrete objectives, and do it a tiny bit at a time.
Step 6. Do an ecology check
In NLP, Ecology is the awareness of the ‘overall system’, and an ecology check is when one considers how an action or decision can impact the rest of one’s life. Some questions to consider could be:
- What time and effort will this endeavour require?
- Who else is affected by this? How will they feel?
- What am I giving up to achieve my goal?
- Where will I need to practice or set up?
- What might be interfering with my goal?
- What is good about my current situation? Are there things I want to maintain?
- What else could change once I achieve my goal?
- Am I at risk of becoming a crazy cat person if I pursue this ? (Yes, but that’s a positive thing)
Step 7. Create your milestones
A great NLP technique to help with goal setting and achieving, is to create a milestone diary – perhaps on a calendar or by setting out specific tasks you must achieve by a certain date (being able to cut kitten claws without being scratched to death could be one) and test yourself on your milestones on their due date.
For example: Endeavour to create a perfect chocolate souffle’ without it deflating by January 15th.
Step 8. Action Plan
Now that you have mental clarity on goal setting, and how to become the Guru of Felines, get ready to get ready!
- Write. Stuff. Down. Make a plan for your own 1-to-7 steps. What is the dream? What do you already have that can help you achieve it? What’s it going to cost you and those around you? Writing things down keeps you accountable, and it’s a more permanent solution than just your word.
- Keep your ‘Why’ front and centre. You’re going to have bad days, where the scent of cat urine jars you and cat fluff flies everywhere. You are going to want to quit. Keep the big picture clear in your head, and remember why it is you started.
- Celebrate the tiny wins. Eventually, just grooming cats might be too boring a task, but for every new client, new kitten or new perfectly executed job you achieve, make sure you thank yourself!
As the saying goes, nothing worth having is easy to have, but planning for success and taking large projects one step at a time makes a huge goal into a manageable, achievable one.