Setting Personal Goals

by  Laura Bissonette

There are many different strategies for goal setting. One way is to start with the end of your life and work backwards. Picture your funeral. Who do you hope would want to attend? Friends that you 

don't have time for anymore? A family member that you aren't on speaking terms with? How about members of a community group? - Do you belong to any? What do you want them to say about you? That you were a fun, generous, happy person that made a good impact on a lot of lives? What accomplishments and achievements would you be proud of? The answers to questions like these give you an outline for the way you want to live.

This plan will help you work out the steps that you will take to accomplish your goals. Don't write down any goals that other people have set for you, or any that you really don't want to do. A three-ring binder will keep all of your notes together in one place and you will be able to replace outdated goals with fresh ones from time to time. You might prefer a notebook, but loose pages won't work.

Find a quiet, peaceful place where you can think without interruptions. This exercise might take a few hours, especially if it is the first time. This is not selfishness! Organizing your thoughts and setting goals is a very important process that will only benefit you and everyone in your life.

List your dreams.
Make a list of everything you want to accomplish before you die, on the first page. If you need help coming up with ideas, go back and give some more thought to your funeral.

Sort the list into stages of your life. Before I reach the age of __, I want to accomplish the following . . . You are currently in Stage A. Assign a letter of the alphabet to each future stage.

For each stage, number every goal, in order of importance. Use a new sheet of paper for each goal in Stage A. Title them Stage A, Goal 1, etc. 

For the remaining stages, list only the top three most important goals.

At this point, you should go over the list and make sure there aren't any conflicts. For example, do you want to go sailing around the world by yourself, and develop a closer relationship with your children at the same time? You may want to make some adjustments - don't cross any off your list, just slot them into a more appropriate time.

Define Your Goals
Now, for each goal, do the following:

Write down exactly why you want this. What benefits will you get from working toward it, even before you reach it? Be very specific. How will it make you feel to accomplish it?

Determine how you will know if it has been achieved. Some things are obvious. For example, achieving a certain weight or a new car in the driveway. How will you know when you have accomplished "spending more time with friends"? Or, "Have a loving relationship"? This type of goal could be given a rating system. 

Write down how you will measure progress (number of nice things you say to that person each day). A weight chart, a journal of your feelings, and your savings account passbook are ways to track headway.

Assign a date for the accomplishment of each goal. For long-term goals, assign benchmark dates along the way.

Congratulations! The work you've done is going to give you a huge advantage in getting to where you want to go. Are you tired from focusing and concentrating so hard? Let's take a break now and continue later with Part II.

About the Author:
Article by Laura Bissonette, A1 PRIORITIES, Helping Busy People Get Organized. If you would like a free copy of "Effective Ways to Organize Your Office", email info@a1priorities.com before January 31, 2001. For more organizing ideas or to sign up for a monthly ezine with organizing tips, see our website at www.a1priorities.com.