I am a natural planner or maybe more like dreamer. I love imagining how things could be. I reckon Pinterest was made for people like me! ***Check out all my Pinterest boards here.***
I am the sort of person, who sees old trash on the side of the road and has to stop and pick it up. Oh the possibilities of making that piece of junk into something beautiful and useful again! Never mind that I have more projects on my to do list, than I will ever have time to complete.
So as I moved into my teen and young adult years, that dreaming turned into planning and writing out goals for myself each year. Though often my goals were more lofty than the knowledge, skills and money I had available.
Then along came marriage, 3 young kids and mental and physical health issues and well, I stopped dreaming and just tried to survive. For a long time, just getting to the end of my day was my normal!
However at the end of 2015 something changed for me when I went camping for the first time on my own with my kids, who were 4, 6 and 9 at the time. I think taking that step to do something that felt big and challenging gave me confidence.
On that camp, I decided that I wanted to aim for something else challenging, which was hiking again in the Stirling Ranges (our local mountain range) after a 11 and 1/2 years break. I longed for more of that feeling of confidence and freedom that came from achieving a goal. I started to dream again!
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Then the most amazing thing happened! I found that setting a few challenging but achievable goals, gave me so much more than just a fun 40th birthday or the chance to do a grueling, 3 day hike with my brother.
I discovered that setting goals and working towards them, gave me direction and purpose for the activities and tasks in my daily life. Also, spending time on what was most important to me increased my confidence and my well-being!
The Benefits of Setting Personal Goals
1. A Goal Gives You Focus
Truth is we all have the same 168 hours in our week, so what we do with that time matters! Goal setting gives you the opportunity to look at where you have been, where you are currently and helps you clarify what your biggest dreams and hopes are for the future.
The specific goals you come up with then give you a targeted focus for your efforts, time and resources.
Goals can help you in deciding what commitments you take on during the year and what activities or relationships you say a polite no to.
Goals take your values and highest priorities, and create a focus for you.
Examples of areas you may choose to set personal goals for are health and fitness, leisure, relationships, career, and spiritual growth.
2. Great Goals Measure Your Progress and Success
One of the benefits of goal setting is that it helps you to define what success means to you and what it looks like.
For some people, success is accounted for in the material wealth they have or the professional accolades they receive. For others, it looks like family relationships or serving your local community.
Goal setting also helps you decide what factors you will use to track your progress and gives you feedback on what is working or not working. Seeing progress is hugely motivating! Without that your progress and success will be really vague and ambiguous, and provide you with no benefit.
Some of the ways you may choose to track your progress are:
- numerical amounts (pounds lost, miles walked, bags of clutter donated etc.)
- through time spent (eg 15 minutes a day decluttering for 3 months)
- by checking in with an accountability partner or support group
3. Goal Setting Can Increase Your Well Being & Confidence
This is what I discovered when I committed to writing and working towards a few very practical goals that year. Research also shows that when you are making progress on your most difficult goals, you are emotionally happier and more satisfied with your life.
For those of us who struggle with mental wellness, that’s an encouragement!
Working towards goals can also increase your self-confidence. It helps shape how you see yourself while at the same time adds to your sense of accomplishment. You can gain confidence simply by taking action towards your SMART goals even if you don’t get the result you are looking for. Sometimes success is found in the doing and not necessarily the end result.
One of the wall art prints I put up in our boys’ bedroom several years ago, reads “I can do hard things”. I wanted them to have that reminder not to shy away from things that are difficulty or challenging, and to have an inner dialogue that says I can rather than I can’t. It’s also a great reminder for myself when I feel like giving up.
One of the benefits of setting personal goals is that it changes you! You become a person who tries, and who can…
4. A Goal Gives You Momentum
There is an interesting cycle where progress on your most meaningful goals, increases your sense of well being and in turn those positive emotions motivate you to behave in ways that enable further progress on your goals. The good news is, progress can lead to more progress!
How do you do that? By tracking your progress (see above) AND making sure to celebrate the small wins. Yes, it’s the small daily actions, that over time make a BIG difference!
5. Goals Give You A Way to Live A Purposeful Life
Setting goals for yourself is a way of holding yourself accountable for living a life that truly matters. The goals we focus on can give us clarity about what’s truly essential to us and what’s not. If we don’t decide what our highest priorities are, there will also be someone or something else that will decide for us. Goals also help to move forward on the dreams and plans we have.
One of the benefits of goal setting is that instead of talking (complaining) about wishing you had a life you love, you then live a life you love!
What is a dream that you could set a goal about today?