A Vital Goal Setting Strategy: Make Your Goals a Priority

Recently, I learnt yet another goal setting strategy as I went about my goal experiment, trying to achieve the goals I have set by May 31.

This lesson was:

“If you really want to achieve your goals, make those goals your priority.”

I learnt this goal setting strategy the hard way by NOT making my goals a priority for some days.

Are You Making Your Goals Your Priority?

Some days ago, as you know, I posted a public commitment to achieve certain goals by May 31. However, I got up late and did not work on my goals enough on many days after setting these goals. That means I made SLEEP my priority over goals. On another day, I played scrabble till late in the night and postponed my goals. That means I made playing scrabble a priority over goals. On yet another day, I lazed away my time and did nothing but did NOT work on my goals. That means I made wasting my time a priority over my goals.

Whatever you give the most of your time and the most of your attention to is your priority. If you are NOT giving your maximum attention to your goals, then clearly goals are NOT your priority. And then, there is a good chance that they will not be achieved.

I am not asking you to give up your relationships, or recreation or anything at all, for the sake of your goals. But yes – if you are spending MOST of your time doing something else other than going after your goals – how on earth will you achieve your goals? And if other things are indeed so important to you – then maybe you need to evaluate your goals in the first place and make sure they are really goals you want to achieve and not just statements you have written based on whims. For instance, if watching TV consumes a lot of your time and you love doing that, then go ahead and set a TV watching goal then. 😛 The point is – if there is indeed something that you want to achieve – some goal that you want to accomplish, then there is no way you are going to achieve it by making TV watching your real life priority.

Goals Before Most Other Things

If you want to achieve your goal, make sure that you make working on your goal at least one of the most important things in your day.

Throughout the day, there will always be disturbances but you need to consciously choose your goals over these disturbances. An acquaintance may want help. You may need to run household errands. You may get a phone call at the very moment you are about to work on your goal. All of these disturbances may be important but if you don’t assign priority to your goal, you may find yourself finishing all these mundane tasks and forgetting about your goal by the end of the day.

Then, there are internal disturbances too. Sometimes, you will want to catch that TV show. Or you will feel lazy and not want to do anything. Or you will want to go out for a movie. Again, do all of this – but only once you have accomplished that portion of the goal which you wanted to complete in the day. If you decide to watch a movie first and think about your goals later, clearly, you will accomplish the impulsive goal of watching a movie instead of the deep rooted goal you have set for yourself.

We generally don’t give our own goals priority because they are “own” goals and others wouldn’t be very affected if we didn’t achieve our goals. If I plan to lose weight, I don’t have to report to my boss about it – I am my boss with respect to losing weight – and so one day I may tell myself – “it’s ok, today I will not work out. Let me just relax.” And that’s where I have not given my goal priority. A good idea to help make goals a priority is to make them public. That makes sure others put so much pressure on you with their questions that you sort of “have to” make your goals a priority.

Here are some simple questions that explain this goal setting strategy better.

1) Your boss asks you to stay 2 hours extra at work. You had decided to work on your physical fitness goal in those 2 hours. Will you make your goals your priority or give in to office pressure?

2) Your favorite TV show is coming up and the rest of the family is watching it. You know that you have already skipped working on your goal in the last 2 days and are falling really behind. Will you make watching the TV show a priority or working on your goal a priority? (Hint: the choice is yours but what you make a priority determines what will be achieved in the end).

3) Your colleagues/friends have invited you to a party. You think it would be fun attending the party though you know it will be similar to many other parties you have attended before. The goal you set was to learn one new language in the next 2 months and you know it is crucial for you to work on your new language today. Will you succumb to the party or go with your goal?

As you can see: if you really want to achieve your goal, you might have to say NO to some things you might have said YES to before you set your goal. Do note however, that in saying NO to those things, you are saying YES to your goals. And that’s how you will move forward towards them.

Again, I am not recommending giving up everything in life and focusing only on the goals you have set. That would be impractical and you might feel overworked too. What I am saying is – you cannot achieve your goals if you sideline them most of the time. You have to give them atleast a certain level of priority if you have to achieve them.

A Goal Setting Strategy For Both Me and You

The goal setting strategy above is something I have learnt recently during this goal setting experiment after CATCHING myself spending loads of time on activities other than my goals. Therefore, this advice is valid as much for me as for you.

Best of luck to both me and you – as we move towards our goals! 🙂