Setting Effective Goals - Overview

Gabrielle Pirrone
April 15, 2022

Over several different articles in this series we will explore and expand on the following:

Dream Big - Important ideas have potential and remind us why we set the goal

Understand Limits - We need this more than we know and limits feed creativity and progress

Build Confidence - Let's face it the doubts will come

Design Smart Strategies

Develop Skills - Build competence

Document - Keep track of what works and make informed choices

Build Systems - Improve and automate

Enlist Support - To sustain us, this will be hard work, there will be times when we will need help

Start Strong - Finish Strong

Everyone has goals, some are big and some are small. Everyone has them, whether we verbalize or achieve them or not is the real question. But how do we take an idea or dream and turn it into something real in the world?

We’ve heard we need goals, but Why and How we are harder questions and we often don’t take time to dig deeper. We feel an urgency to start so we try to dive in headfirst with various stages of What. Even if we know to start with the questions of Why? and How? the answers often prove more difficult to answer and so they get set aside for the sake of moving on. However, answering the questions of why and how hold some secrets to making our goals stick and to actually achieving progress.

So, let's see if we can develop better relationships with our goals, habits and plans. We will need to give them the time they deserve. We may need to slow down, listen and consider before we jump. We will want to investigate how and why in order to dream big (to energize for the work ahead), plan smart (so we can sustain the effort for the long haul), and... then execute, evaluate and adjust as we progress (to keep us moving when we run into challenges).

Design For Success

When we don’t have our own goals, plans and habits for our life we end up accepting or working on someone else’s plans for us. Following someone else's plan may be easier at first but cannot substitute for the deeply satisfying work only we can do.  Without our own goals as our compass we can become discouraged working for others. We can even become chronically depressed, anxious and frustrated even when the work is meaningful and valuable. Because it is not our work.

We often set goals in the new year only to abandon them til next year (maybe even in the first day or the first month) when we don't see progress. We might even decide goals no longer work for us. It's a familiar joke or excuse we like to repeat when we give them up or even when we are setting them. But in reality these are some of the things that bring real and deep regrets. Good news is there is always time to turn a new page and set a new course. I hope this series will help.

Progress Is Key

Seeing progress is critical to reaching our goals. Careful design (the smart plan part) and adaptability (the habits part) are key to creating sustainable effort and actually seeing progress. There are more options than just giving up in frustration or deciding that goals aren’t for us.

The Steps:

  1. Finding the Goal
  • Looking for the goal takes more work than we think. It sounds easy ... just find it right, why all the extra bullets? Finding something that fits me… this looking takes time and strategy. What is it? Answering the question. What do I want? Can be really important and can set us on a path
  • Setting the goal - Document it and talk about it with others. Say it out loud.
  • Developing the confidence - move forward with a framework for modifying and keeping what we want — this is why we set the goal in the first place. Developing this confidence may be the most important step…if we don’t develop belief that it matters, we won't have the strength and conviction to sustain the effort to overcome the challenges.

  1. Making the Plan
  • Research the steps involved and evaluate if you have designed them so that you can execute
  • Document the steps - Write it down and store it in a place where you can access it multiple ways.
  • Develop or adapt systems to plan, track progress, record success, make decisions, get feedback and adjust the plan based on new info or learning. This can be tough because writing at a computer may not always be how you want to work so scheduling time to research options might help you to be more flexible and free up your creativity.
  • Understand your Limits - Build in Time to sit and review the plan and allow for deep thinking about the plan, allow the subconscious mind to help you solve planning and execution problems, learn how you actually work and then adapt the plan or develop skills to match.

  1. Build Habits and Skills
  • Design Smart Strategies - we will need to designing your habits takes work too. You may find skills you need or you may get distracted by looking at skills you want but that don't contribute to your goal. If you limit time spent on these activities it can allow room to explore but help keep you from endlessly spending time on developing skills without purpose or progress. Smart for you not just "smart". It can be helpful to start out knowing some swirl can happen when you try to plan and you see how many options there are to choose from. Planning smart will help you evaluate and plan for your strengths as well as you limitations.
  •  This one may be a little harder so we will mostly try to provide resources, stories and examples to help you design, discover and develop habits and skills that contribute to the way you like to work rather than suggesting a specific habits or techniques.
  • Develop Skills - Most of us have developed our habits following someone else, or by stumbling into them. At some point…this point... we must forge our own path intentionally. Design our own Destiny. It doesn't mean that we have to stop being spontaneous, but spontaneity is only one of the creative tools in our tool belt. In order to go somewhere we haven't been, we need to do some things (or in ways) we haven't done before.
  • Document - There will be lots of options here. The important things to remember are. Simplicity, Usability, Accessibility
  • Build, Discover or Develop Systems (find an something existing you can easily customize)- What I mean by systems are ways or methods of working, automating (reminders or regular prompts, doing certain things on certain days or at certain times of day). communicating with supportive people, getting feedback, taking feedback constructively, putting things in place to check in, body doubling, coworking, enlisting a coach or spritual director.

Gabrielle Pirrone