I’ve always enjoyed the topic of goal setting and have both read and written many articles on goals.  This week I have a guest post by Jesse Langley, who gives another look at the benefits of goal settings

In the past twenty years, the pace of life has accelerated at breakneck speed. Technology has put the world at everyone’s fingertips—on-demand entertainment, online stores that deliver overnight, webcams you can use to talk to friends across the globe. Instead of taking a tried and true way to weight loss, education or parking San Francisco, everyone’s looking for the quick fix, or the shortcut.

Life can work that way, but it doesn’t last very long—and then, you end up looking for another quick fix to replace the one that failed you last time around. People now expect things to happen immediately, with little effort and with very little personal cost to themselves.

But life isn’t virtual, and success and happiness can’t be ordered from Amazon. If you want to improve your life, it will take time, dedication, and organization. Creating the kind of life you want requires that you set goals for yourself. Begin by identifying what you want, setting goals to make it happen, and laying a plan that allows you to succeed.

Your heart’s desire

So, what is it that you want out of life? Do you want to begin a new life, or just improve the one you have? Are you working toward a particular goal, like buying a new car polished with Wipe New or moving into a better apartment? Start making a list of the things you want—lists can serve as visual tools that remind you of your goals and ambitions. Once you’ve made your list, prioritize your goals from “most important” to “least important.” That way, you can put your energy into the things you want the most.

Best-laid plans

You’ve got your list of goals written and arranged, it’s time to come up with a plan. Anything worth having requires working for it, and creating a strategy is half the battle. If you want to pursue an education, research the best options for earning a degree. If  online training or distance learning will make it easier to reach your goals more quickly, choose the school that will give you the best education in the field you choose.

If you want make a large purchase like a new car, put together a financial plan that allows you to take care of your monthly expenses while saving money for your goals. And don’t be afraid to ask for help: not everyone knows how to manage money efficiently, and getting advice from experts will only help you reach your goals more quickly.

Do some life housecleaning

Many of us hold on to people, places and things from our past, whether they’re good for us or not. Doing a major spring cleaning-type overhaul of your living space is a great place to start: get rid of anything you don’t use or need, and anything that might hold unpleasant memories. Donate any items that can be reused to gain good karma. Rearrange your living and working spaces so that they’re comfortable, and pay particular attention to things like your closet and your computer to be sure they’re organized and easy to navigate.

Getting your life organized can help you clear your space, but housecleaning has to involve looking at more than just the physical influences in your life. Doing an inventory of your personal relationships can also force you to examine how the people in your life affect your goals. Friends who are constantly negative, or a significant other who doesn’t support you, can become toxic.

Likewise, friends and family who offer encouragement and ideas on how to succeed can give you the energy you need to work harder toward your goals. Decide which people in your life are lifting you up, and which are holding you down—how you deal with those relationships is up to you, but you’ll need to find a way to interact with the folks who may (or may not) have your best interests at heart.

Find your center

Religion and faith can be a source of inspiration and strength. Attending religious services, or studying your religion’s holy texts, often helps us put certain aspects of life in perspective. Religious studies and services also give people the opportunity to build a community in which they are accepted, encouraged, and counseled on how to deal with life’s obstacles.

You don’t have to be religious to make a deep and spiritual connection with others. If you don’t subscribe to any faith, you can still set time aside to meditate, or to simply let your body and brain relax. Finding your center, finding a place or environment that makes you feel calm and allows you to recharge, can give you the strength you need to get through the ups and downs of your life.

Keep at it—even if it doesn’t work

Taking each of these steps—and committing to them long-term—is a lot of work in itself. But once you’ve set yourself up for success, the only thing to do next is stay vigilant. Stick to a schedule, keep your lists and other visual aids handy, and devote yourself to your goals every day.

One of the most important things to remember is that you won’t always meet your goals the first time around. Rely on your good friends and family to cheer you on, and don’t forget to give yourself a break every now and then if you backslide, or if a plan falls through. Failing or falling short doesn’t spell defeat for you—instead, take it as a lesson and try a new approach next time. Part of meeting your goals is not giving up on them—so, don’t give up.

Setting and achieving your goals isn’t easy—but it’s not supposed to be. Working toward your goals might take months, or even years. But learning to set goals, developing the discipline and self-determination to carry through on your actions, and keeping yourself focused on the big picture will give you more than just what your heart desires. Learning to set goals and achieve them will serve you well in all aspects of your life.

Jesse Langley enjoys spending time with his family, watching athletics, and writing about professional and personal development strategies.  He writes regularly for Professional Intern

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