If you want to change your life, you need to use every tool available to you. Other people are following programs, listening to advice, and using goals to live more balanced lives, so why shouldn’t you? ALTA offers a guide (That Balanced Life) to help you find balance in your life and make the changes you need to find success. Two of the main factors that increase chances of success are goal setting and consistency.
1. Why Are Goals Necessary for a Balanced Life?
You could say that your overall goal is to have a balanced life, but how are you planning to get there? Goals are not just a guide to where we want to go, but also the road map that leads us there. Goals clear our heads and help us to focus on what exactly we want to accomplish so we can create a life that will make it happen. Having a balanced life might mean something different for each person. You need to find out what it means to you, so you can start using goals to live a more balanced life.
Setting goals is a tough process for some of us, as it forces us to clearly identify where we want to be in life. This is uncomfortable because we have to look at our lives as they are today and realistically think about where we want to go with our future. That’s a daunting task to think about, but it really is worth the effort!
Without proper goals, it’s impossible to know the progress you’re making towards success and when you’ve actually succeeded. If you’ve ever said something like “I will know I’ve made it when…” than you already know how to make a goal! Take a hard look at how you view success and apply that filter to your own life. By placing this standard in front of yourself, you’ll be able to see what your life will look like when you complete the journey you’re starting.
Goals are only the first step, but they are arguably one of the most important parts of the process. If you’re honest with yourself when you’re setting your goals, you’ll lay a foundation for success later on by creating a way to be held accountable for your progress and by picturing success as something achievable and tangible. Understanding what success means to you is the first step in creating a plan for to get to your version of a balanced life!
2. How to Form Effective Goals
In universities and businesses across the world, people are taught how to set goals for their companies and in their work lives. But, these practices are often overlooked for personal goals. They are not just effective for businesses and can also be used in your own life to help you set the right goals!
The SMART Framework
One of the most effective goal-setting criteria taught internationally is to develop so-called SMART goals. SMART stands for:
Goals should match each of these criteria before you accept them. Every one of them is just as important as the other, so you can’t skip any of them! Think of them like stairs: the only way to get to the top is to start at the first step.
Specific goals are necessary to make sure you get where you actually want to go instead of landing somewhere completely different. For example, someone wanting to lose weight should come up with a specific weight loss goal, such as losing 50 pounds or 10 inches around the waistline. Without something to guide the weight loss journey, how will that person know when they have succeeded or not? Be specific about what you want to accomplish and what it will look like.
For example, I made it a personal goal to read one book per month. For me that would be a tremendous accomplishment. I am not the biggest reader but I know its value and importance. That goal was eclipsed by one, and I ended up beating my goal and read 1.2 books per month.
Measurable goals go hand-in-hand with specific goals. You need to make a goal that is able to be measured, so that you know when you’ve accomplished it or not and how far you are along the way to success. Many specific goals are already measurable, but in case they are not, you need to make sure you add a measurable element into the goal to help you track your progress towards success.
Making a goal achievable means that it is possible to achieve what you want to do. Going back to the weight loss example, you cannot say you want to lose 100 pounds if you only weigh 150 pounds. This is not achievable, because it’s simply not possible for your body to function at that weight. Goals should be ambitious, but possible.
Realistic goals go along with achievable goals, in that they should be realistic to what you can accomplish. It might be great to say you want to finish graduate school within 2 years, but if you have other responsibilities and obligations (such as full-time employment, family, business, etc.) it may not be a realistic goal for you personally.
Time-bound is the last requirement, and it simply means the goal should come with an expiry date. If your goal is to finish a master’s degree program, you cannot just leave it at that. You should put that goal into a specific time-frame, such as giving yourself 10 years to complete your degree program. Leaving goals open-ended without a specific timeframe can lead you to go off track and lose motivation.
Judging Your Goals
It’s not all about fitting goals into a framework. These frames are a great guide to help you find out if your goal is something that will work well with a process and plan. But, goals should also serve another purpose, which is to inspire you to action. With that in mind, goals need to be tailored to your life, not made into a one-size-fits-all form. What motivates you and inspires you to build the life you want? That should be your goal.
Goals are also meant to be a long-term thing that you can build a process around. There may be things you decide to accomplish every day, smaller goals that we sometimes call tasks, but they should all fit into your one main goal. This main goal should be something that takes at least a month or longer to complete. Longer goals are usually preferred, because it helps you to envision a better future instead of dwelling too much on how unsatisfied you are with your life right now.
3. Breaking Down Daily Tasks
Now that you’ve got something in your mind as your goal, you need to draw up the map that’s going to lead you to your destination. Right now, all you have to your current position and your goal for where you want to be in the future. There is a lot of empty space in the middle where you will fill in your plan!
Each goal can be broken down into smaller daily and weekly tasks that will make up your process. Remember that to get to a large goal you only need a certain number of small steps. To lose 50 pounds in a year, you only need too think about how to lose 4 pounds per month, which is only 1 pound per week! Breaking down your goals into short-term tasks is a wonderful way to help you see exactly how you are going to be able to make your goals happen. It helps you see that it’s not impossible.
To create your daily tasks, it’s vital that you break down your goals to see what contributes to their fulfillment. What can you do every day that will bring you closer to success? It’s these small daily tasks that will get you to your goal, because they represent your forward momentum. You have to have forward momentum if you want to get anywhere. Although your daily tasks may look inconsequential, they should represent something that’s going to build up and turn into your success.
Daily tasks need to directly contribute to your goals. If you goal is to start a business by the end of this year, you have to take steps to make it happen. Thinking about what it will be like to run a business or mulling over possible ideas isn’t good enough, because it doesn’t give you any tangible progress. Instead, you should be doing the legwork of researching ideas, proving their viability, creating a structure for the business, and starting the process of registering your business. You can create a variety of daily tasks in relation to this goal, as long as they’re helping you take small steps forward.
If certain tasks that need to be accomplished are too large for one day, break them into even smaller tasks. Registering a business may be too big to be done in one day, but you can fill out the application one day, submit it the next, and follow-up with other necessary steps as you can handle them. This is how you’ll make sure things get done instead of procrastinating because something feels too big.
4. Consistency is King
You won’t be able to reach your goals if you stop moving. Doing something, even something tiny, every day will make a huge difference in your life. Some days you may not be able to complete your daily task, while other days you may be able to do more than you had planned. Whatever the case, you need to consistently strive for progress. Even a small step forward is a step closer to your goal.
Being consistent means doing something to help you reach your goals every single day. It’s difficult, and your body and mind may fight back at first. But, if you stick to it and continue on the path you’ve laid out towards your goals, you will develop habits.
Reaching the point of unconscious competence is what you really want. You want your progressive actions to be so second-nature that it feels weird if you DON’T do them every day. This is how you’ll get to your goals. If you stick to what you’re doing and refuse to allow yourself to stop, you’ll become disciplined to do what you need to and get it done.
Consistency is the only way you can accomplish your goals. If you keep moving and refuse to stop, you will find your success. Be consistent and do what you need to do every day.
5. How to Meet Your Goals
You know what you have to do. Set goals for yourself, break them into daily tasks, and then start doing them every day. If you’re serious about finding success, this is the path to reach it.
Life is messy and doesn’t always look like the perfect plans we make, but you also don’t have to be perfect to reach your goals. By being consistent and putting your efforts into following your guide, you will continue making progress. Progress always leads you closer to your goal! If you keep making progress, you will be constantly putting yourself closer to your success.
Goals are met when you acknowledge that they are not out of reach and you do what needs to be done every day to get where you’re going. Don’t be discouraged by how far away your goals look but take pride in the fact that you’re working towards success every single day.
Remember that you may not get things right the first time, and that’s okay. The reason you have goals that are measurable is so you can keep track of how you’re doing and re-adjust things as you go. If you slip a few times, you can adjust your daily tasks to compensate for the mistakes and move on. Keep reminding yourself what you’re working for, and you will be inspired to continually move forward!
Finding balance in your life is hard, but it’s even harder when you try to do it on your own. Using goals to live more balanced is easier when you have a way to keep yourself accountable. Guide books, close friends, online communities, and other resources can help you stay on track and be encouraged to keep moving forward. Get a head start on your new journey being reading That Balanced Life and following the program laid out in the guide!