Setting goals simply means deciding targets for yourself. A goal can be simple and is an end towards which efforts are directed. Targets must be realistic and obtainable and should not be too high or low. They should be moderately high, so that it takes efforts to reach them.
In simple words, before starting anything, you must being with the end in mind – developing a clear picture of where you want to go in life and drawing up a map to get there.
Often we set goals when we are in mood, but later realise that we do not have the strength to achieve them. This is because we don’t count the cost associated with it. Here’s a simple example: Every year, you plan to get better marks in the coming exams. But before setting the goal, you need to consider what this will entail. Perhaps you will have to spend more time studying, waking up early and staying up late, watching less TV etc.
Once you’ve counted the costs, you may consider the benefits: What could good marks bring to you? A feeling of accomplishment? Entry into a good college? High self esteem? Praise?
Now ask yourself, “Am I willing to make the sacrifice?” if not, then don’t do it. Don’t make commitments you know you will break. A better way is to make the goal bite-sized. Instead of setting a goal for getting better marks in all subjects, you might want to get good marks in just two. In next semester, focus on the other two subjects.
Here is another exercise: On a sheet of paper, write down how much you would like to score in your exams. Then think about the percentage you got in your last exam, and compare that to how much you would like to score in you coming exams as well as the one after that and so on, till the final goal is reached. Now look at the your first sub goal and next to it, make two columns: In the first column, note the cost you have to bear to reach that goal. Then think about the potential benefits you may enjoy on reaching that goal. Now, truthfully answer the question, “Do I want to achieve this goal?” Write it down!
The difference between a goal and a dream is the written word. A goal not written is only a wish. A written goal carries ten times the power. We all want to achieve certain things in life and even work hard for it. But once you actually write it down in black and white, you know exactly what to do and how. Writing forces you to be specific.
Once we are fully committed to doing a task or reaching a goal, our power to reach it increases. It seems to dig up goldmines of willpower, skill and reactivity, which we didn’t even know we possessed. Of course this commitment must come with within and shouldn’t be imposed by others.