To become more productive, you need to set goals for yourself. Learn why you need them and how to get started in 4 steps.
How many times have you heard that it’s important to set goals to be successful?
I’m one of those who frequently bring up the subject here, in the social media, or in my conversations with my clients and friends.
Setting goals is vital to achieving anything in life. Also to become more productive.
But there’s one detail that is sometimes overlooked: how can you set goals for yourself?
Imagine I told you I have a dream of becoming an Olympic athlete.
It sounds valid, doesn’t it? I could set a timeline, create a plan to learn new skills, etc. But is it a realistic goal?
Well, I don’t think that being over 40 prevents me from starting new things, but reaching the level of an Olympic athlete is something else.
It’s much more realistic wanting to improve my CrossFit skills to participate in Masters events, don’t you think? Even though I still have a long journey ahead of me, it’s doable.
I know you can say I’m using (again) an extreme example, but have you ever realized how many times you put yourself into similar situations?
How many times have you felt stressed, frustrated and disappointed because of goals you set for yourself, but realized later they weren’t achievable?
But because they were your goals, you invested time, energy, and money in them. In some occasions, you even invested more than you should just to realize they weren’t your cup of tea.
What can you do to prevent it from happening?
Set goals mindfully
Having the right mindset is imperative to achieve goals. But when you’re in the start phase, defining what you want for yourself, you have to be mindful of things such as your:
- personal preferences
You need to have a reason to start building new habits in your life.
Yet, as important as the reason itself is:
- How much does it motivate you?
- What are you willing to do to achieve it?
- How does it impact your lifestyle?
When I put together my 50-things-before-50 list, I also went through the same exercise.
Creating a fancy list just to impress others was not part of my plan. It had to be challenging, achievable, but also realistic. That’s why you won’t find a trip to the moon there.
A little dose of dare doesn’t hurt. Plain goals aren’t enough to force you out of your comfort zone. But too much of a good thing is still too much.
Not only I don’t want you to lose your sanity because of a crazy objective, creating unnecessary stress isn’t part of the deal either.
How to set goals
Some of the ways people set goals are based on:
- a friend’s suggestion
- a dream (those that we have during sleep)
- an influencer
- the news
- qualities and aptitudes
- a book or a film
They are the starting point. The flame that ignites the process of change.
If your objective is to become more productive, you need to be mindful about the way you’ll proceed.
- Treat your goal as a project
- Become deeply engaged with your goal
- Revisit your goals regularly
- Set milestones and celebrate them
Treat your goal as a project
Instead of just acting on an impulse, treat your productivity goal as a project.
In fact, it’s going to be your life project for the next months or years.
This simple change of approach will already put you in a productive path.
When you are assigned to a project, you naturally become mindful of your actions. Some of the things you’ll avoid, for instance, are:
- Wasting money.
- Wasting time.
- Doing unnecessary things.
- Avoiding help.
If you want to become more productive, you have to approach your goals as projects.
Become deeply engaged with your goal
While a goal isn’t a person, your relationship with it should be pretty much like a marriage.
Don’t be naive: there will be ups and downs and that’s normal.
And exactly because things won’t be perfect you must be committed to your goal to make it happen.
Some of the methods you can use to feel connected to your goal are:
- mood boards
Become excited with the possibility of becoming more productive.
Revisit your goals regularly
Measurement is a common step of projects.
You set goals, defined the implementation plan, and started to do the work.
On a weekly or biweekly basis, you need to reassess the steps taken and evaluate the results.
Your goal isn’t something to keep you busy. On the contrary, you want to improve and become more productive.
To be sure you’re making the right decisions and taking the best steps to achieve it, you must revisit your goal on a regular basis.
Time used to measure the progress of your productivity goal is an investment.
Set milestones and celebrate them
In the beginning, I suggested you set goals to become more productive and to see them as projects. However, it doesn’t mean it’s all business.
Even professional achievements deserve a celebration, why wouldn’t it be the same for your dreams?
But before commemorating anything, you must accomplish it.
Milestones are like thermometers. They’re indicators of your progress within a certain period of time.
If you want to run a marathon, you must first start running, run 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons. Each race is a milestone.
When you set goals for yourself, also determine intermediate milestones that will help you measure your progress.
To become more productive, you need to be able to do a certain amount of work within a given time. Define clear milestones and do the necessary to achieve them.
Set goals to become more productive
Having goals and working towards them is part of life.
We all want something more for ourselves and our beloved ones.
Whatever your productivity goals are, there’s no need to be afraid of the extra work and time you’ll have to put into them.
If you set goals mindfully, they’ll promote your personal growth and help you become more productive.
It’s possible and you can do it, stress-free!
Read the other posts in this series:
Also published on Medium.