How to Set Goals (and Be Gentle with Yourself)

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How to Set Goals (and Be Gentle with Yourself)

How to Set Goals (and Be Gentle with Yourself)

Whether you’ve been in business a while or you’re just starting out, it’s not unusual to find yourself feeling adrift. Maybe you’re working hard and doing all the right things, but you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere worthwhile?

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Often, people feel this way because they haven’t spent enough time thinking about where they’re going, and they don’t know how to set goals to get them there.  

Why Set Goals at All?

Goal setting is a powerful process for visualising your ideal future and motivating you to make it a reality. When you know what you want to achieve, you know where to concentrate your efforts and spend your time. By setting clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in their achievement. This helps you recognise forward progress and encourages you to keep going.

Get Clear on Your Values

For your goals to be achievable, they must move you towards things you want. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to be seduced by other people’s ambitions and mistakenly assume you want the same things.

The key is to get really clear on your personal values and set goals that align closely with them. Values are the things you believe are important in the way you live and work. They should determine your priorities and help you measure whether your life is turning out the way you want.

Big Goals and Short-Term Goals

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough’? There may be some truth to this, but I believe modest goals are important too. In fact, most people need a mix of both big and small goals to build the kind of life they’re dreaming of. 

When we’re setting goals and figuring out how we’re going to achieve them, it can be helpful to start big and get smaller. Breaking large, long-term goals down into smaller tasks and actions (otherwise known as short-term goals) creates a clearly defined path for you to follow. Moving from one small goal to the next keeps you motivated and pushes you closer to achieving your biggest dreams.      

Remember to Show Yourself Compassion 

‘While self-talk impacts every aspect of our lives, it can be especially influential in our work. Specifically, when we respond to setbacks or struggles… with overly-negative self-talk, we add an extra layer of negative emotion on top of an already difficult experience. It’s this second, self-inflicted, layer of negative emotion that often derails our productivity in a big way.’ – Nick Wignall, Psychologist

Gentle goal setting relies on self-compassion. When you’re working towards something, is the voice in your head positive and encouraging? Are you kind to yourself when you struggle or fail? Consider what you would say to a friend if they experienced a similar set-back. Remember to always give yourself just as much grace and understanding.

If You Do One Thing This Week… 

Spend some time dreaming about and visualising your ideal future. Write down what it looks like and how it makes you feel. How does this image reflect and embody your values? Can you identify the things you need to do to make it a reality?

When you feel ready, turn your ideas into a solid plan. Start with the big, long-term goals and break them down into smaller and smaller actions designed to move you forward.

Further Reading/Watching/Listening


Photography Credit: Captured by Megan Wilson

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