Two Personal Lessons Learned When Setting a Goal

Setting a goal wordleHow serious do you take your goal setting? Too serious, perhaps?

How about I show you how goal setting can also be more enjoyable?

Beginning of February, I wrote a post about setting goals, to be precise about how to write a personal development plan with realistic goals.

Realistic goals are important, to keep moving, to keep our motivation up. Today, I would like to argue that there is more to developing your objectives then “just” being: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive (SMART technique: short explanation).

There are two important points that I noticed through the last years when setting a goal:

  1. Goals do not only need to be set once per year
  2. Goals should be fun, too!

Here are the details:

1. (Re-) Set Your Goals When You Want To

Many of us work on our personal New Year’s Resolutions, once per year. Some of us never look back at those resolutions a few months down the road, because they know they are not close to achieving them or simply because they have forgotten. Or maybe you have an annual interview with your supervisor, once or twice per year.

It is now end of March and the Easter bunnies are out and about this coming weekend. How many times have you looked at your goals that you set about three months ago?

In my view, we should not only consult them more frequently, we should also have the flexibility to adjust them AND to set new goals, if the occasion arises. In some organizations there are strict processes in place with regards to objective setting, but in case you have a little flexibility here, use it. Use it, to work with the goals, make them more tangible by thinking of regular actions to achieve them. And for your personal goals, who said that you should “only” develop them beginning of the year?

For me personally, I need time to make my goals more tangible. In my previous jobs, we always had a few weeks to work out our annual objectives for the year and then they were fixed. While it was not possible to adjust them, I sometimes should have forced myself to look at these objectives more often, especially for the soft ones, which where not stuck in my head. When I did look at them, I realized where I made progress, and that was a great feeling!


2. Enjoy Your Goals

About three years ago, I started to focus on setting different types of goals for myself. In the past, it was very much oriented towards professional success and general happiness and well being. I wanted to have more balance in this “goal list”, I wanted it to be even more fun than scheduling the next weekend for hiking. So, I decided to include a “social goal” into my list. At that time I was living abroad, and I realized again what it means to have close relationships with a selected few, rather than a list of phone numbers of random people I acquainted with.

I thought about an achievable goal for which the effort meant immediate enjoyment and was doable. So, I decided to contact at least once every three months one person whom I had not been in touch with for a while. I somehow knew this would become my favorite goal of the year, as I really like being in contact with people, especially those people whom you have not got around to contact for a while simply due to lack of time. This goal meant fun!

I have to admit, I did not stick to the three months pattern, but it was still worthwhile and enjoyable!

Now, for 2013, I had not yet set myself a similar goal, until I was recently contacted by someone whom I had not heard from for many years! We exchanged messages and are set for a phone call in the Easter break, and I look forward to this call! I am reviving the “social goal” series for another old contact!

What is your favorite goal? How often do you check upon your goals? Interested to read your comments!

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