A man looking at a concept board

Close your eyes and envision your ideal self. What kind of person are you? Take no caution in creating mental pictures. Imagine your appearance, dress sense, career, relationships, and financial capacity. Think of everything you deeply desire that screams all round wellness and success.

I’m sure you cooked up some really good scenes in your mind. I do that often, it helps me disconnect from the world a bit and relax.

Unfortunately, most good things don’t happen by chance or mere wishing. They often require specificity, hard work, and sheer dedication. That means, a lot of the time, you have to identify exactly where you’re going and take deliberate steps to get there. This is why we set goals.

What is a Goal?

Simply put, a goal is a desire, milestone or achievement that motivates certain actions, efforts, and behaviours. Its magnitude or time frame for completion doesn’t matter. Whatever drives your ambition and motivates you to perform certain tasks qualifies as a goal.

Is Goal Setting Effective?

Who doesn’t have goals? Everyone has something they wish to achieve. If you ask your close friends and family about their goals for the year, they’ll most likely have a thing or two to say. From fitness and travel to relationship and career goals, there’s no limit to what we want as humans.

But, does that help? Is having a goal effective in bringing our deepest wishes to reality?

Well, my answer is “it depends”. I believe setting specific goals is a solid step towards living life on your terms. It’s a way to define where your heart is at and what you truly want for yourself. However, it’s not the only piece that completes the puzzle. So, what next?

Strategic Goal Setting

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight” - Jim Rohn

If you ask three random people one major thing they’d like to achieve in their lifetime, chances are they’ll mention something huge. It could sound great and well-meaning, but probably won’t happen overnight. For instance, a secondary school student can say they want to find the cure for cancer when they don’t understand how cancer forms and how many types currently exist. So, this brings me to my next question.

What do you want?

What are the most important things to you right now? Try to narrow down your answer to the simplest possible form. You can have goals for specific areas in your life, including but not limited to:

  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Spirituality
  • Skin and Body Care
  • Relationship
  • Career
  • Business
  • Study
  • Research
  • Finance
  • Travel
  • Behavioural

Define the specific thing you want to achieve. Things like “I want more money” “I want better-looking skin” “I want a simple life” sound great, but doesn’t give you much to work with. You can start from there, but don’t remain ambiguous.

Try defining exactly what for yourself. Here are some examples of specific goals:

  • I’d like to treat my acne and get clearer skin

  • I want to increase my income by at least 50%

  • I want to incorporate some physical activity in my daily/weekly routine

What can you start doing today to help you achieve your goal?

Here’s where we take a deep dive and answer some questions. This may require my favorite part, research! Put your mobile phones and personal networks to good use. Here’s how I’d try to learn about the journey I intend taking. Using the examples above, that may look like:

  • Learning about the causes of acne and treatments, reading research articles, watching YouTube videos created by doctors, asking the friend or acquaintance who had acne, but suddenly has it no more.

  • Answering questions like “Is it possible to increase my income by 50% at my job?” “Will I have to change jobs?” “Do I have the skills and qualifications for a better paying job?” “Do I need to learn a new skill or gain a higher educational qualification?”

  • Should I try yoga or visit the gym?

This step summarily involves answering questions that’ll help you get further along.

Create an action plan

When you complete your research and answer all the pressing questions that come up, you’re ready to draft your action plan. This may look like a schedule or a new addition to your daily to do list. Using the same examples above, here’s what an action plan may look like:

  • Use a recommended acne-cream every day (morning or evening or both) for a month.

  • Apply for a part-time master’s degree programme or take an online course. Schedule time (daily/weekly) for classes and study.

  • 10 minutes of yoga every morning after prayers.

Review, Re-strategize

Defining and achieving goals often isn’t a straight trip. It’s one with many stops and redirections. Don’t sweat it. That’s all part of the process. Take some time to review your strategy and find out what’s working and what isn’t. You may need to do away with old strategies or habits and form new ones.

Switch things up when necessary. Don’t feel bad if things don’t work out the way you wanted. Try something else.

Enjoy The Adventure

Life is an adventure. But, with goal setting, you get to choose your adventure! Rather than life’s unpredictability being the only thing that determines the trajectory of your life, take the bull by its horns and define your path.

If you’ve ever read stories before, you’d know that things can get chaotic at times. Sometimes, the main character is confused, betrayed, hurt, and even at the risk of death. But, is that usually where the story ends? No! It often ends with some understanding, a level of balance, growth, and peace (unless they’re trying to keep you in suspense for the next volume).

Your life is your adventure. Love it. Be intentional and strategic about it. Choose your adventure and relish it with so much gust!