Goal Setting – What drives you and why it’s important to follow through

When I contemplate on goal setting I tend to think of it as a way of setting my path towards the future and what I would like to achieve, whether personally or in a career sense.

Goals motivate you, challenge you to your limits and teach us lessons throughout our journey. Sometimes these lessons show you what you are capable of once you have achieved those goals and if we fail or need to take a step back we learn what  could have been done differently or ways to improve for the future.

A goal begins with a thought, an idea, a dream or a vision. But thought without action creates nothing and that is where goal setting comes into play.

Goal setting involves establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T ) goals.

Before I begin to set out a goal I like to ask myself the following questions:

Have I written down what I want to accomplish? It may seem like a simple process but often when we think of something and don’t write it down we then become distracted and the goal ends up being put into the ‘to do’ basket for a later time. Not only is writing down the goal important, but also weighing up the strengths and weaknesses of what you are about to do to make sure that it is something you are capable of achieving within a period of time.

Have I told someone about it? Believe it or not, by letting others know what you want to achieve can help motivate you and also holds a sense of accountability when it comes to keeping on track with your goal setting.

Have I broken down the goal into smaller tasks to achieve within a timeframe? I tend to find what can put an individual off of goal setting can be the size of the goal, especially if you plan the goal years in advance. With everything else going on in our lives and our schedules, big goals can seem cumbersome and therefore too hard to pursue further. But if you set smaller tasks within a timeframe and something that can balance with your everyday lifestyle, the less overwhelming it will seem and the closer you will start stepping towards achieving that goal.

Am I keeping a record of my experiences so that I can evaluate them when assessing future goals? Don’t be afraid to record your achievements, after all, accomplishing something allows you to know what you are capable of and you can also assess what worked or didn’t work for future opportunities. Also, you may never know who may approach you one day wanting your advice on a similar goal or path to take.

Am I having fun and celebrating the achievements along the way? Once committing to the goals and putting the plans into action are you taking the time to enjoy the experience? Are you celebrating (no matter how big or small) those little accomplishments along the way? Are you taking the time to acknowledge those who have helped you along the way? I tend to find balancing your personal happiness and relationships along the way are vital to an ultimate fulfillment in achieving your goals.

What’s next? I remember a couple of months ago being asked this question and being stumped! We don’t need to limit our goals to just one at a time, as long as we organise the goals and allow a proper time frame to achieve them our goals can become stepping stones to the next one and then the next. As the saying goes, ‘When one door closes, another one opens.’

When I booked the Kokoda Trail it was almost a year prior to the trip taking place. I allowed this time so that I could complete the steps needed to make this goal happen. Items such as finances (to pay for the trip, transportation, emergency expenses, gear), purchasing the right hiking equipment (by doing the appropriate research and testing this beforehand), training preparations (scheduled gym sessions and training walks with a pack on), and trying to learn the history/geography of the trail before going on the trip of a lifetime.

This didn’t mean that I didn’t have setbacks along the way, such as neglecting training because I was ‘too tired’ or letting other distractions throw me off the planning process. However, I had booked this trip with a close friend of mine, and during my low times I would receive a text reminding me of my next trek training date or we would send emails of the latest news updates of the area or inspirational images of places we were going to see along the walk and it really helped motivate me.

This motivation and preparation led me to take on something that I was passionate about and that I wanted to accomplish. And while the Kokoda Trail itself had elements of unpredictability and challenges, if I had not taken the necessary measures to prepare for this goal I wouldn’t have been able to take with me the great experience that I can now share with others today. So if your goal is something that you are passionate about and that you can realistically achieve, stick with it and don’t let yourself get side tracked, because after all it is your life and you don’t want to spend your time regretting what you didn’t do.

What are your goals and dreams for the end of the year?