The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.
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Ok, so this isn’t the first time you’ve heard someone talk about the importance of goals, and its definitely not going to be the last.
But clichés aside, understanding the importance of goal setting and knowing how to set goals for yourself is crucial to accomplishing great things in your life. Here are 6 important reasons why you need to set goals for yourself:
1. Goals Propel You Forward
Having a goal written down with a set date for accomplishment gives you something to plan and work for. A written goal is an external representation of your inner desires; its a constant reminder of what you need to accomplish.
There’s a very common pattern that comes with working towards goals that we’re all familiar with: you set your mind to something, you get excited and work like mad, and then motivation starts to wane. Having goals that you can focus on and visualize helps you better connect yourself with your inner desires, and gives you the motivational energy you need to work through periods where your focus inevitably starts to wane.
2. Goals Transform Insurmountable Mountains Into Walkable Hills
Most of us have big dreams that seem impossible to accomplish. Its easy to feel discouraged when you’re staring at a massive, seemingly insurmountable mountain.
Proper goal setting can help break larger, intimidating aspirations into smaller, more achievable stepping stones. Planning towards these smaller goals not only makes it easier to formulate a definite plan of action that we can start working on right away, but research has shown that hitting smaller milestones provides real motivation and greater contentment.
In his fantastic book, “Delivering Happiness“, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh describes how offering smaller, but more frequent promotions had a measurable increase in employee satisfaction, even though the final accomplishment was the same. Instead of offering one big promotion every 18 months for example, the management at Zappos found that offering smaller promotions, say every 3 months, would result in increased employee satisfaction and motivation.
You can take this lesson and apply it to your own life. Take the mountains you need to climb and break them up into smaller hills that you can walk. You’ll be happier and more motivated to start working towards that next milestone on your way to greatness.
3. Goals Help Us Believe In Ourselves
Setting goals for yourself is a way to fuel your ambition. Goal setting isn’t just about creating a plan for your life and holding yourself accountable, its also about giving us the inspiration necessary to aim for things we never thought possible.
Do you want to accomplish something that many people dream about, but few people ever actually accomplish? Unless you make it a goal for yourself and work everyday towards achieving it, why would you ever believe that you could accomplish it? Unless you see yourself slowly making progress, your dreams and aspirations are nothing more than vague notions floating around in your imagination.
4. Goals Hold You Accountable For Failure
If you don’t write down concrete goals and give yourself a timeline for achievement, how can you look back and re-evaluate your path if you fail?
There’s something extremely humbling about looking back on a goal you set for yourself 6 months, 1 year, or even 5 years ago and realizing that you were supposed to accomplish a lot more than you actually did. Its a concrete sign that whatever you’re doing isn’t working, and you need to make real changes if you want to get where you want to be.
5. Goals Tell You What You Truly Want
There are certainly times where we set goals that don’t really reflect what we want. Sometimes we think we need more money, when really we need a change of environment, or someone to love. Sometimes we think we want more free time, but what we really want is work that we can be truly passionate about. Sometimes we think we want to be alone, but really we need to be around more positive people.
If you never set goals in the first place, how do you find out what you truly want? If you wander through life with vague notions of “success” and “accomplishment”, you might never discover that buying a new BMW isn’t what will bring you true happiness, or that landing that coveted promotion at work will make you miserable because the extra money and fancy title won’t make up for the reduced time with your family.
By asking ourselves what we really want and constantly re-assessing our goals, we gain the benefit of introspection and self-reflection. We can figure out what it is we really want in life – and then we can go out and do it.
6. Goals Help Us Live Life To The Fullest
When you take the time to set goals, you ensure that your life is geared towards getting the most out of every moment. There’s so much to do and experience in life, but many of the things we want to achieve and experience won’t be handed to us – we need to work for it.
Imagine you’re on a vacation. You have a limited amount of time to take in all the sights, sounds, and experiences of a foreign land. Wouldn’t you want to figure out exactly what you want to do and what you want to see? Or would you wander around, hoping to find something interesting? And if you do have some sights and landmarks in mind that you want to visit, wouldn’t you do a little research to find out how to get there? Or would you wander around, hoping that you’ll eventually find the place you’re looking for?
In many ways, life is like a vacation (though it certainly doesn’t feel like it); we’re given a finite amount of time to pursue the experiences we want and then before you know it, its time to go. If you want to get the most out of your precious moments of life, you have to know what you want.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to have every single moment of your life planned out. After all, what’s a vacation without a little serendipity? During your journey, you’ll find lots of interesting things to see and do that you never would have thought of before you started. Heck, your destination might change as you travel down the road and learn more about yourself and the world you inhabit. But without a clear sense of what you want to do and where you want to go, you’ll never be able to live life to the fullest.
Be sure to check out our article on how to set goals to learn how to set goals for yourself, if you want to harness the power of goal setting to improve your life.