Why You Should Set Goals and Review Them Regularly

Why You Should Set Goals

We have all heard that we must define our own paths or someone else will. This is why you should set goals. Life is taking you somewhere. You are moving in a direction – some direction. If you have not clearly and intentionally identified and written down the direction you want your life to go, then, by default, someone or something else is setting its path for you.  

This is just the way life works. The direction you are heading will determine your results tomorrow, next month, next year, five years from now. Think about that for a moment. Next month is going to arrive. Don’t you want to set the direction that your life will take in the meantime?  

What Sets the Direction of Your Life?

Why you should set goals

The direction of your life is primarily determined by the choices and decisions you make every day. Each time you decide, whether big or small, it alters the direction of your life in some way. Think about what influences your choices and decisions (even in small, seemingly insignificant ways.) What are you allowing to shape your thinking, perspectives, desires, and emotions regularly?

This is where your goals come in. If you are operating by default, this includes what you watch mindlessly on TV, what you read, listen to, or the people you associate with repeatedly. Or, you can define your path. This includes clear, written goals, plans, and other outcomes that you review regularly.

When used, clear and emotionally compelling outcomes/goals can significantly influence your everyday decisions than life’s default influences. This is why goals are so powerful.

Default vs. Defined Examples

Your diet – If you haven’t defined a clear vision for your diet (not just hopes and dreams), then by default, your food choices will be influenced mainly by ads (on the tv, print, billboards) or even by what those around you eat.  

Your time – If you haven’t defined your goals/priorities, then by default, how you use your time will be primarily influenced by your emotional whims—the demands of others or what life throws at you.

Now that the Case has Been Made for Why You Should Set Goals

Ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. Do I have written goals that I review daily?
  2. Do I have a plan of action for today?
  3. Have I created a clear and emotionally compelling vision for what I want to be, do, and have?

If you can say yes to these questions, you are in control of your life’s direction. If you say no to these questions, then it is time to take control of your life today or something else will. Read on for ways to help with setting goals and achieving them.

Why you should set goals

Help With Achieving Your Goals

The most effective way I have found in helping me to set and achieve goals is journaling. Journaling helps because it forces me to think about my goals. It forces me to write them down and document them. I prefer to write my goals on paper, but you can use technology to track your goals. Either way, once you have written them down, they are ready to tackle.

As you enter goals into your journal, consider the why and how of your goal. You can determine your “why” for wanting to achieve the goal, which will motivate you to keep working towards it. You can also write down how you will reach the goal. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 lbs., you can state how you will lose weight. Such as by eating only whole foods, not snacking in between meals, quit eating by 7 pm each day and exercising five days per week for 30 minutes each day.  

Then each day, you can focus on your goal in your journal. You can write down what you did to move you toward your goal, and what you did that drove you away from it. This can help you identify both opportunities and roadblocks concerning your goal. You will then be better able to avoid any roadblocks in advance.

If you have written down steps for how you plan to achieve your goal, you can pull them out and schedule them in your calendar. Timeboxing works particularly well for this. It will help you be super productive towards your goal. You can even download a schedule here to help you with the timeboxing technique.

Each time you intentionally set goals, define the steps to achieve the goals, and perform them, you improve your goal-setting skills. By journaling and working on this every day, you intentionally set the direction you want your life to take.

Journaling About Your Goals Helps Keep You Accountable

Another benefit of journaling about your goals is that it provides accountability. Even though no one else is reading your journal, it helps you to be accountable to yourself. You are developing the habit of looking at your journal each day and journaling on your goals. Also, you are developing the habit of continually following through on what you say you will do. You will begin to trust yourself and become accountable to yourself to complete what you need to complete each day to move you towards your goals.

Another bonus to journaling about your goals is that it provides a permanent record of the things you’ve done and the steps you have taken to achieve any particular goal. No one has a perfect memory, so you will have a record to look back on that could help your future.

Journaling helps you to see your goals more logically. You will gain clarity, and that clarity will lead to action. If you would like to learn more about setting goals, you can read how to set SMART goals here. You can also download a SMART goals worksheet there as well.

Focus on What You Want When Setting Your Goals

Focus on what you want

Focusing on what you want instead of what you don’t like helps you get what you want faster and more efficiently. People often focus/state what they don’t want. For example, you may have a conversation like this:

Question: “What do you want to eat?” 

Answer: “I don’t want pizza. I don’t like Chinese. I don’t want burgers.”

Question: “Where do you want to go on vacation?”  

Answer: “I don’t want to vacation in the mountains, Disney World, or where we went last year.”

Question: “What do you want from this?”

Answer: “I don’t want to have that problem, that problem or that problem.”

If you regularly use statements like “I don’t want/think (fill in the blank),” you are most likely focusing on what you don’t want instead of what you do want. If you consistently focus on what you don’t want, you might be dulling your ability to see solutions and goals. 

Achieving outcomes and finding solutions is like digging and finding treasure. There are two basic ways of doing it:

  1. The Direct Mindset: Focusing on what you want is a mindset where the basis of finding solutions comes from pointing directly at them. It is very efficient.
  2. The Elimination Mindset: Focusing on what you don’t want is a mindset that attempts to find solutions through the process of elimination. This is often a massive waste of time, energy, and resources for everyone involved.

Change Your Focus

When solving challenges/problems: Focus on the solutions you want. Do not focus on the problems you need to avoid.  

For example, when asked for your input: Clearly state the one choice you believe is the best. Do not express all the options that don’t appeal to you.

When asked what you want to do: Clearly state precisely what you want to do, not everything you don’t want to do.

By focusing on what you want, you train your brain to seek and locate answers and solutions. Therefore, be sure to focus on what you want when you are journaling about your goals. This will help you have a direct mindset to achieve your goals faster.

why you should set goals and review them regularly

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