By Jalene Case

In my 20s, a dental hygienist said to me, “You don’t have to floss all your teeth.” I said, “Great!” Then she landed the one-two punch with, “You only have to floss the ones you want to keep.” Her trick worked. I’ve been a devout flosser ever since. The same is true for goals: You don’t have to write all your goals, only the ones you want to achieve.

Like flossing your teeth, you know setting goals is important to do on a regular basis; however, do you understand why writing them is crucial? Let’s learn from the experts.

The results of Harvard Business Study found that:

  • 83% of respondents had no goals
  • 14% of respondents had plans but didn’t write them down and still, they were 10 times more likely to succeed
  • 3% of respondents had written down their goals and were 30 times more likely to succeed compared with those who had no goals

Are you convinced that goals are valuable for you? I am. And still, finding what works for me has been, and continues to be, an evolution. I know that goals lead me to a satisfying life I love. Conversely, I know that chasing shiny objects leads me to frustration. What do you know about the role goals play in your life?

I’ve struggled with goal writing because I make it too complicated by following someone else’s complex system, too overwhelming with more goals than a mere mortal can accomplish, and too time-consuming to stay on-track.

Now I believe you must design your own goal system. Using someone else’s process is an awesome way to start, but you can’t stop there. You need to make it work with your lifestyle, work, values, thinking style, physical environment, technology preferences, creative and professional style, etc. The key is to give your goal system that special zing that motivates you!

A study by the Dominican University of California revealed a basic goal system structure. Participants were divided into five groups. They found the group with the highest success rate of 76% did this:

  • wrote their goals
  • wrote their action commitments
  • shared with a friend
  • sent updates to a friend

When you’re ready to get serious about building your goal system, use this guide to begin.

  1. Write what you want. This first step is about envisioning the big picture of what you want more of or less of in your life. You can use time frames to imagine what you want in 30 days, 90 days, 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years. You can find more details in this blog post.
  2. Write your goals. Decide what you will do in order to get what you want from step one. Each goal needs to be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). These questions keep me on track.
    • Can this be checked off? If not, I need to be more specific.
    • Can I really do this within the time-frame I set? I have a tendency to be unrealistic in my completion dates. Separate your goals into the same time periods as your “wants” above e.g., 30 days, 90 days, 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years
    • Is this really important to me? Sometimes I think it is and then after continually not doing it, I admit to myself that it’s not important or figure out why I’m not doing it, which is usually related to being scared or not having enough knowledge. Without writing the goal, I wouldn’t know this.

    You might want to add to this process by creating a vision board (cut out images that represent your goals and glue them onto paper) or hand-writing your goals (like note-taking, this conveys to your brain that this is important).

  3. Build your container. Don’t skip this part! This is what will make writing and accomplishing goals satisfying, and dare I say, enjoyable. Where will you keep your goals so that you can review them on a regular basis? Ideas: hang them near your work space, put them in a digital spot that you consistently see, tuck them in your planner, purse or cell phone holder.

    How often will you read your goals?

    How often will you update your goals?

    Who will you tell about your goals?

    What might make this fun, efficient, fascinating, or exciting for you?

You can build your own goal system to receive what you truly want. Start by envisioning what you want, then decide what you will do to get it, and finally, build a container to support your goal system so it can support you.

Creating your own goal system may not change your life, but then again, it just might. I’d love to hear about the structure of your goal system! Send me a note to Note: This is part three in a series of nine blog posts exploring the Self-Leadership Blueprint.

Header image by Tirachard Kumtanom of Pexels.