Goal setting is the catalyst for making this happen. The purpose of setting a goal is to achieve a desired result. When applied carefully with intention, action, momentum, and focus, setting and achieving goals gets you from where you are now to where it is you want to be. But first you have to know where that is. The “where” begins with your vision.
The first step is to start with the end in mind and work backward. The end result is your highest vision for a given area of life—be it health and fitness, relationship, family, career, or finance. Once connected with your vision, you then need to set specific goals that will aid you in actualizing the vision.
Many people mistake the goal for the vision thinking the goal is the end result. They set a goal without thinking ahead to what that goal will allow them to be, to do, or to have in the long run. To make the most out of your goal-setting process, it’s important to link it up to the quality of lifestyle you ultimately want to be living. For the purpose of creating some clarity, let’s outline the key differences between a vision and a goal.
Your Vision vs. Your GoalYour vision isn’t something that needs to be created—it already exists within you. You just need to get in touch with it. Your vision is the big picture of your desired outcomes. It’s an internal representation of what is most important to you; it’s exciting, inspiring, compelling, and filled with positive emotions.
A goal, on the other hand, is a specifically designed milestone that requires completion if you are to get to the end of your yellow brick road. The downside is that a goal may not necessarily provoke positive emotions. Goals are simply stepping stones on the path that lead you to your ultimate destination.
A popular and effective way to set goals is to use the acronym SMART, which stands for specific (clear and precise), measurable (you can quantify or measure progress), achievable (meaning, it’s realistic), resources (you have the resources needed and you aren’t relying on divine intervention or other people), and time (there is a start and end date).
Using highly detailed, vivid imagery is an extremely powerful way to train the mind to go after—and get—what you want. Professional athletes use mental visualization to help them become more agile in their game. For example, Tiger Woods has been using visualization techniques to improve his game since he was a teenager, and World Champion Golfer, Jack Nicklaus, was quoted as having said, “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head.” Former NBA All-Star, Michael Jordan, used mental imagery to get into what he referred to as “the zone” to make his game-winning, three-point shots. Many public speakers practice anchoring themselves to a state of motivation prior to taking the stage in front of their audiences.
If professional athletes and stage presenters use visualization techniques to enhance their ability to be the best of the best, you too can utilize this approach to making your own dreams come true.
10 Meditation Steps for Achieving Your GoalsTry the following steps to practice a guided visualization on putting a goal into the future:
- Begin with an area of your life in mind. Choose an area where you have been struggling or would like to experience some transformation.
- Now begin to imagine the highest possible outcome that you would like to be living in this area of your life 6 to 12 months from now. Imagine living your life the way you would envision if all your hopes and dreams were to come true. What is your ultimate reality? Try not to get hung up on limitations or negativity; instead, just allow yourself to get carried away with your wildest aspirations.
- Next, connect with one goal you would like to achieve in the next three months. Make it a good one. If you choose a goal that doesn’t carry a lot of weight or isn’t all that meaningful, the end result (if you even bother getting there) won’t feel all that special. So be sure to choose something that is big enough that, once you’ve carried out this goal, you will be left with a high level of accomplishment and feeling super motivated to set your next goal. Run the goal through the SMART acronym to make sure it meets all the proper criteria. Then, you’re set!
- Now that you’ve connected with your goal, imagine what your life will be like once you have completed it. Create a picture or movie in your mind and step inside the visual representation as if you are inside it and looking through your own eyes. Adjust all of the qualities of sensory perception (taste, touch, sight, sound, smell) to create the most positive and most real feelings. Who is there with you? Where are you? What is happening around you?
- Next, step out of the image you’ve created and imagine floating up in the air above where you are now, taking the mental image with you. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale, use your breath to energize the image, filling it with positive energy and intention. Do this five times.
- Now it’s time to imagine floating out into the future and visualize dropping the internal representation of your goal down into your life below you at the date and time you’ve set for this goal to reach completion.
- Notice how all the events between then and now re-evaluate themselves to support you in accomplishing your goal. Visualize this process to make it feel real.
- Once you feel complete, come back to now and, with your eyes still closed, consider what action steps you will take in the next week to move you closer to your goal.
- Take a few deep breaths to ground yourself before opening your eyes. Write down your list of action steps and do any journaling about your experience.
- Last, you must take action and maintain your focus. Every single day, do something that moves you closer to realizing your goal and living your dream.