How to set goals
In this post I'm going to talk about a framework which I've used to set my goals for the last 5 years, it's a framework which can be used both online and offline, but I prefer doing it on paper (I get into that later).
The framework focuses on putting the least amount of time into "setting" the goals, and the most amount of time into getting to the goals. I use it for both work and personal goals, but that is up to the user.
Two types of goals
Before we jump into the framework, I have two types of goals:
- Goals that I want to do, be or get. Like learn something or travel somewhere.
- Goals that I need or want to maintain. Like health and connections.
The goal-setting framework
The framework looks like this (I will explain each step better further down):
- Set out 5 goals you want to do, be or get in the next 5 years.
- Set out which of the 5 goals will be your main goal.
- Imagine and write down how you could reach this main goal in 6 steps starting today. The first step will be your first monthly goal.
- Write up 3 things you can do today to get you closer to your monthly goal. 3 things that would make you satisfied with the day.
- At the end of every day reflect and prepare for tomorrow. First, think of the best thing(s) that happened today and the thing(s) that can be better tomorrow. After that write down 3 things that you need to get done tomorrow.
- Repeat step 4 and 5 until you reach the monthly goal. Then go for the next monthly goal if it hasn't changed and if it has set a new one!
The goal-setting framework explained
Step 1: Set out 5 goals you want to do, be or get in the next 5 years.
This is where you start, with or without things you want to do, be or get in the next 5 years. You may ask: "Why just in 5 years?", that's because most of us are bad at setting an estimate of how long things will take. So if I set a 5-year goal, I may be able to finish it in 6 months and some other goal in 6 years. 5 years is a long time and a lot can change during that time, but it's a good timeframe to use because then we automatically think bigger.
Most of us have goals without really seeing them as goals, maybe a thing you want to give your parents, a place you want to visit or a couple of things you really want to buy. No goal is too big or too small, it just has to be a goal for you.
If you want to set out your goals you can use these 8 points with questions that hopefully will help you clarify your goals:
- Knowledge - Do you become more knowledgeable and skilled in something?
- Adventure - Do you want to accrue novel, memorable experiences?
- Fame - Do you want to build an audience you can later leverage?
- Power - Do you want to acquire resources and connections?
- Money - Do you want to increase your financial wealth?
- Exercising Talent - Do you want to leverage your skill and creativity?
- Human Connection - Do you want to bond with others more?
- Health - Do you want to become healthier?
Step 2: Set out which of the 5 goals will be your main goal.
Most of us don't just have one goal, we often have infinite with things we want to do, be or get. But in step 1 we narrowed down the goals into just 5, and now we're going to narrow it down into just 1.
I don't mean you should focus on only one thing every day, but if you want to do, be or get this thing you have to work. And focusing on several different things at the same time will just lower the chance of you getting where you want.
So choosing this one thing will help you get there quicker and also help you get to do your other goals quicker.
Step 3: Imagine how you could reach this main goal in 6 steps starting today and write those steps down.
The first of these 6 steps will be your first monthly goal which you will aim to finish in 30 days. It's just a framework of thinking, like your five-year goal, but now you think within 30 days instead of 5 years.
This means you will have to force yourself in thinking big again and also to make up your plan in reaching this goal. These steps can change, as all your goals can. That's why setting goals shouldn't be something that takes hours, it should take minutes.
Step 4: Write down the top 3 things you can do today to get you closer to your monthly goal.
Now when you got the first monthly goal we can get to work. There is no better time to start than now! Write up 3 things that would make you satisfied with the day, 3 things that will take you closer to your monthly goals and start executing.
Step 5: At the end of every day reflect and prepare for tomorrow.
This is something I've underestimated a lot. Doing things is good but reflecting on them and see what was good and what can be done better is where I learn a lot.
Use these steps at the end of every day, which will help you reflect and prepare for tomorrow without taking to much time:
- Think of the best thing(s) that happened today and write them up.
- Think of the thing(s) that can be done better tomorrow and write them up.
- Look over what you've done today and write down the top 3 things that you need to get done tomorrow. Just to be prepared for tomorrow!
Step 6: Repeat. No explanation needed.
Online vs offline goal setting and planning.
I love all digital tools that help me do things that I want to do. But there are two things, actually three things that made me change my mind of using digital tools for goal setting and planning:
- I work in front of different screens all day, every day, and don't want to start/end every day with a screen in my face.
- The planning online took too much time away from doing, which isn't what I wanted.
- And I also like to cross things over when they are done. Best feeling.
If you want to use the framework I'm using, which is a book with this framework then read more here. You can also download the framework as a PDF if you sign up for the newsletter.