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13 Steps to Write a Personal Goal

12 Steps to Write a Personal Goal

We are always encouraged to set goals at the start of the year, and for our studies, jobs, fitness, businesses, relationships, finances, and more. But how do you write a personal goal? Before answering this question, let’s first look at why personal goals are crucial.

Personal goals are handy in helping us focus on where we want to go and what we’d like to be in life. They may involve acquiring knowledge and harnessing time and resources to fulfill your life’s purpose.

Aptly put, personal goals give you short-term motivation and long-term direction.

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How Do You Write a Personal Goal?

To write a practical personal goal, be sure to:

1. Define the Meaningful

Start by defining what’s important to you. What motivates you? This motivation will keep you on track as you work to achieve your goal. Is there any aspect you think should change? Think about it and write it down.

You’ll probably have broad categories such as education, self-improvement, finances, and health, and that’s a good start. What do you want to change about these areas? Is there anything, in particular, you would like to see?

A good example would be the desire to increase your income or save more under ‘finances.’ It may be ‘develop a positive mindset’ under self-improvement or even ‘eating healthy.’

2. Imagine the Big Picture

What do you envision yourself as when you achieve all your goals? It could be in the next ten or so years. What matters to you at this point, even if it’s not considered essential or endorsed by others? It’s necessary to focus on what you value, not other people’s opinions.

Maybe your best possible self is a successful work-from-home mum. What characteristics do you need to pull this off? 

You need to know how to think on your feet and solve problems, manage money, self-discipline, patience, balance work, and home affairs, plan meals and kids’ schedules, and determine supplies required to run the home smoothly. If you have help, you need to be a good supervisor and manager. 

Which characteristic do you already possess? What do you need to learn, and how can you learn it? Your approach here should be more honest and curious instead of judgmental.

3. Break It Down 

You may have identified several areas that need work, and that’s okay. Now you need to narrow down and arrange them in order of priority. There must be one that’s more important or urgent than the others, for example, health. 

The others remain second and third tier, not wholly struck off the list. You will come to them in due course. The idea is to change your life but not all at once. It can be very overwhelming to do a complete overhaul, and that’s why you’re starting slow.

A specific goal will get you better results since it will direct your action plan. Once you identify the most important one, break it down even further into greater detail. For example, if the focus is weight loss, a clear goal could be ‘lose 20 pounds in five months.’

4. Define the Plan of Action

What do you need to do to achieve this goal? And for how long? Reminding yourself why you are doing it in the first place will help keep you focused throughout your journey. That’s why you were to choose something meaningful to you.

How did you phrase your plan? The human brain doesn’t do well with negativity, and productivity decreases. Wording will help you with this fight, much more than you realize. Using positive wording will have you feeling better about your specific actions, thus acting as a catalyst for better results.

Instead of ‘stop eating junk,’ consider writing ‘aim to eat four servings of fruits and vegetables each day.’ The first phrase sounds like deprivation, while the second sounds like a healthy achievement!

5. Break It Down Some More

The path to your goal is dotted with specific tasks for you to accomplish. Look at your goal and list the small tasks you will need to accomplish to get to your goal. 

For example, looking at weight loss and fitness as a task, you could split it into things like ‘do 20 minutes of cardio and drink 2 liters of water.’

Identify anything you’re already during to meet your goal and pat yourself on the back. It’ll encourage you since it gives the impression of a headstart. 

Is there any skill you will need to develop to reach your goal? If yes, add it as one of your goals. Break it down just as you have the primary goal.

6. Plan for Today

People often make a great plan and then say they’ll start working on their goals tomorrow, next week, or next month. Why postpone such a great plan of action? It may seem heavy, but you can start today, even with minor tasks.
What can you do today regarding your goals? It can be an activity to get you prepared, like going grocery shopping to ensure you have enough fruits and vegetables in the house. You could go out to get an exercise mat for your fitness regimen.

7. Identify Obstacles

What could potentially stop you from achieving your goals? It may be terrifying to think about, but it is necessary. Thinking ahead helps plan better, and when you face said obstacles, you will be more likely to overcome them.

  • They could be external obstacles like a lack of finances. Here, you need to figure out how to get the money for your plan. If you require an investor, draw up a plan and woo them with the numbers. That invite to a dinner party may be a potential obstacle when eating healthy because of all the dessert options. Choose, in advance, to decline the invite or at least the food options that won’t work for you.
  • You could also encounter internal obstacles such as not knowing how to accomplish a particular task or fear. In the former instance, you can seek information from those already doing what you want. Read the next section to figure out your way around fears.

8. Fight Your Fears

Fear is normal, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm you. Imagine yourself working your way through these tasks and finally achieving your goal. 

Visualize the process and results you want. Winning starts in the mind, and seeing is believing. 

Psychologists call this visualization. It helps your mind see the task ahead as a possibility and makes you feel like you’ve already begun the winning streak. Visualization is of two types, namely:

  • Process visualization. It involves visualizing the specific things you need to do to succeed at your goal. Think about every action you undertake and visualize yourself successfully getting it done.
  • Outcome visualization is where you see yourself accomplishing the goal. Think of the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, who you want with you, and everything that comes with it. Some people use a vision board to improve this experience.

You’re encoding these prospective memories into your brain, which opens up your mind to the positive possibilities. You’re essentially charging yourself up for the journey.

9. Positive Thoughts

Your mind is such a powerful tool. Positive thinking awakens imagination and creativity, motivation, ‘big-picture’ thinking, improves problem-solving skills, visual processing, empathy, and improves focus. 

Studies show that positive reinforcement results better than negativity. Your mental productivity goes up too. 

Negativity just bogs you down and impairs your memory, reduces your response time, and decreases impulse control. Essentially, your brain functions best with positivity.

How can you stay positive?

  • Regularly remind yourself that your goals are intended for growth and not deprivation. You’re not missing out on some pleasures or unnecessarily stressing yourself out with new schedules and activities. Instead, you’re setting yourself up for future health, wealth, academic success, or whatever your goal is.   
  • A little encouragement goes a long way regardless of the origin! There will be days when your internal motivation isn’t motivating enough. Reach out to your support system and ask them to encourage you.
  • As you think positive thoughts, stay focused on your activities and tasks. Thoughts need to translate into actions for them to work.

10. Beware of the False Hope Syndrome

People tell jokes about New Year’s resolutions that remain unattained, yet we still make some more. It’s an interesting cycle where you set the goal, get surprised by how difficult it is to achieve, and then abandon it altogether. That’s the False Hope syndrome.

It’s easy to fall into this cycle if you expect instant results from your resolutions. Set realistic timeframes and expectations.

The initial rush you had when setting goals will also wear off along the way, usually at a time when you need to put in a lot more work. That’s where breaking it down into smaller achievable tasks comes in. It’ll help keep your momentum to accomplish minor duties that count towards the bigger goal.

11. Learn from Setbacks

Setbacks can make you feel like a failure, and you may want to give up. Don’t. Instead, learn from it. What can you do better? Keep your hope alive so you can stay the course.

Setbacks happen to everyone. How you handle them makes all the difference.

12. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

It is easy to get bogged down with the details and focus on getting perfect results. You may mistake it for the pursuit of success, but it could negatively affect your overall goals. Studies show that perfectionism leaves you with burnout from the procrastination, fear, and anxiety of not meeting standards.

How to get past this self-inflicted hurdle?

  • Striving for excellence is a much better alternative. Keep at it while giving your best at all times. You will get the hang of it and eventually find what works

Have a little more compassion for yourself. You are human, after all. Remind yourself that humans face setbacks and don’t always reach the mark. Be kind to yourself.

13. Remember Gratitude

Woman meditating in front of lake in sunrise

Gratitude is the practice of being appreciative and has quite an impact on achieving goals.

Why gratitude?

  • It can improve the physiological wellbeing and support the immune system. As such you may notice you visit the doctor less, and be better able to withstand what life throws at you without developing a mental health disorder.
  • You could sleep faster and better. Great sleep means better rest, thus improving productivity during the day.
  • You are more likely to have some physical activity when you are happy and feeling grateful. Think back to when you were feeling sad or depressed. Did you have the zeal to exercise or even take a walk? 

All these and more point to valuable benefits on your journey to success.

Some have resorted to keeping a gratitude journal to keep this practice alive. Writing down even one thing you are grateful for will significantly impact how you view your life and experiences. 

A few times a week is fine since journaling every day may be exhausting. You also run the risk of desensitization to positivity. You may feel the need to increase the frequency with time, and that’s okay.  

You can also write down what you’re grateful for on a small piece of paper and drop it in a jar. 

Do it as often as you need to. You will see the jar filling up, and it will serve as a reminder that you already have a lot working in your favor. After some time, you can open the jar just to read the notes and remind yourself.

5 Principles to Focus on When Setting Goals

You can now confidently answer when someone asks, “How do you write a personal goal?” How about a summary of what to focus on?

1. Commitment

You will need to commit to the goal before you start. The only way you will accomplish it is if you keep going until you achieve it, regardless of what you find on the way.

2. Clarity

Make your goals as straightforward as possible. Break them down until you are sure you understand every aspect of the strategy. Motivation will increase when you know what you are walking into and what to expect.

3. Complexity

Some goals may be too complex for your abilities. You may want to alter these to something you are sure to achieve. If not, increase the timeline to allow you time to acclimatize and work towards it.

If you need to, break it down into smaller achievable tasks and goals that will add to the bigger goal.

4. Challenge

As much as you want to challenge yourself, remember to keep your goals attainable. Meeting your goals will give you a great sense of satisfaction as opposed to frustration when you don’t or can’t. 

Don’t make your goals too easy. Make them challenging enough.

5. Feedback

Look back at your journey and get some feedback on progress. You can ask external parties to give their opinion on your progress.

Listening to a good progress report will motivate you to keep going and achieve even more. It opens your mind to the possibility of more.

Final Words

So, how do you write a personal goal? You do it with all the focus it deserves. Goal setting offers you an opportunity to make a change. Give it your all and enjoy the results!