Goal-Setting: A Step-by-Step Process for Success
By Samar Kundal, CEO, Taskwall
“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” – Michael Korda
It was the year 2013 when I decided that I would like to start doing freelancing alongside my studies. The first goal that I set for myself was to make $800 by the end of the year, which by the time was 3 months away. The goal was simple: Make $800 from freelancing in 3 months from now.
From that time, at the start of every project, I have been creating goals. I have created goals in all areas of my life – business, health, relationships, social, spiritual. Every time I set a goal, I take feedback from the last one, examine what went wrong and aspire to do better this time. Goal setting is one of the most powerful actions that I do to have a successful outcome. It was always important for me to learn more about setting a goal and how I can improve the process. It was a continuous cycle of setting a goal, doing the work, taking feedback and improving on it.
In this article, I’ll share with you the same process that I follow to set and achieve my goals. By the end, you’ll have a process to set concrete goals and build the momentum for progress. Before we start on the process, I feel it is important to know what goal actually is.
What is a goal and why is it important to set one
According to Wikipedia, ‘A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envision, plan and commit to achieve.’
For me, a goal is not just a dream that you have, it is a tangible and a concrete idea of the future. It is a set target and a measurable objective. Before I start working on something, I need to have a clear vision of what it would look like once it’s done. A goal gives you a sense of direction and an objective. And when you have it, you take control of your actions in a way that leads you to it.
A goal also keeps you focused. Instead of juggling unrelated tasks, goals aim your attention on the tasks that will yield results. Having a clear definition of the goal will keep you moving and lays a plan to work from.
4 step process to create and achieve a goal
I have used the same 4 steps to start my freelancing career, then start my first company and now I have used it to start Taskwall. The same 4 step process will help you with any goal whether it’s starting a business or a personal goal like losing weight. Successful Goal setting has four elements to it:
- Clear and Concise Goals
- Plan of Action
- Preparing for contingencies
- Progress tracking
When I have to decide on a new goal, I start in the early morning because that’s when I am most active. For the first two steps, I start with a pen and paper.
1. Set clear and concise goals
When setting a goal, aim to have the utmost clarity for it. The more clear is the goal, more are the chances of you achieving it. There is an acronym used for setting clear and concise goals – SMART.
SMART stands for:
- Specific – Be specific on what exactly do you want to achieve
- Measurable – It must be measurable
- Attainable – It must stretch your abilities but should remain possible to achieve
- Relevant – must be relevant to you
- Time-bound – Have a deadline for the goal.
When setting goals, keep in mind all 5 points from SMART goals. For example, you are working on social media growth for your business. Be specific about what you want to achieve with it like, “I want to have 2000 followers on all social media platforms in a month”.
When setting the goal, I start with asking myself what do I want to achieve? Suppose if I take this example of increasing social media followers. I will start with:
What do I want to achieve?
- I want to increase my social media followers.
- Then, I ask myself a question which makes the goal measurable, like Where am I currently? and how much do I want to increase?
- I am at 500 followers and I want to increase to 2500 followers.
Is it achievable?
- Consider how much time it took you to gain 500 followers, how much time can you spend on your goal? Is it achievable with spending the same amount of time?
Is it relevant?
- How would the goal help my life or my business? Do I really want to achieve?
By what time do I want to achieve it?
- Choose a deadline by which you want to achieve this goal. Always push yourself on this part but not too much.
2. Create a Plan of Action
After having a clear and concise goal, what comes next is making a plan for it. One mistake that many people make is, never having a plan of action in place to know how exactly to achieve the goal. Creating an action plan and visualising the activities required activates a different part of your brain that cements the goals in your mind.
Your action plan is a list of activities required for your goal and includes all the tasks you need to get there.
Here’s how you can build an action plan:
- List all the tasks and activities required. You don’t need to add all micro-level tasks, just the activities that once completed will help you achieve the goal.
- Break the activities down to smaller manageable tasks.
- After I have the list of the tasks, I create my daily routines that build the momentum for the goal.
3. Anticipate fallbacks
While we always seek success for our goals, we should also keep in mind that the path to the goal will not always be smooth. Often we are met with obstacles on our way to the goal like not following the routine, things taking more time than anticipated.
Having a proactive mindset helps you fight obstacles and prepare for contingencies in advance.
- With the plan of action, make a list of the potential obstacles you may encounter. Then make plans to overcome them.
- Make time in your routine for change of plans if something unexpected comes up.
- It’s important to be prepared. Be patient if problem-solving gets tough or deadlines seem unachievable. Believe me when I say that, things will go offroad, but you must be prepared for that.
When I have a concise goal and a list of activities, I try to come up with a few problems that could stop me from achieving my goals. After I have the list of problems, I try to find a solution for each. I believe this step is equally crucial as the first two. It helps you prepare for uncertainties that surely will come up.
4. Set progress tracking and monitoring
When you have everything planned, it now comes to making the progress. After having a plan of action for my goal, I add all my tasks to Taskwall. If it’s a new project, I start with creating a project and adding tasks to it.
If it’s a small goal for an existing project, I start with creating a milestone for the project.
No matter if you are checking your tasks from a piece of paper or some online application, you should always make progress. Work for your decided routine every day without an exception.
The other part to achieve your goal is monitoring, monitor your activities, how much time are you spending? Whether are you making any progress or not? I start every week by checking my productivity reports from Taskwall which helps me improve and plan my coming week better.
Once in a while, you would lose your track but the key is to pull yourself up and keep doing the work. If you are working on your daily activities, improving your productivity along the way, the progress is inevitable.
I would like to end this article by saying that every goal is achievable. All you have to do is put the work required and remember:
- Align your goals to the SMART goals.
- Build an action plan.
- Make a list of problems that you may face and prepare strategies to overcome them.
- Monitor your progress.
- And finally, keep yourself focused on the goal and progress is inevitable.