An Introduction to Goal Setting

Dream big, set goals and take action

Khairul Anuar Safiullah is a trainer with a passion for fully experiential learnings. He exercises competence in leadership, mindset change, sales, communication, presentation skills, customer service, team building, creativity, problem solving, personal effectiveness and image management.

A goal is defined as the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or a desired result. That, is a goal, in general. Many of us Malaysians use this term literally, and with disastrous results. This definition is the equivalent to being in love with the idea of achieving that goal and nothing more. How many times have we heard the phrase “I’d love to lose a few more kilos”, or “That amount of income is going to help me financially” or “I would like to have a deep, meaningful relationship with my spouse”, only to find that person (or ourselves, more likely) going back to our old, comfortable ways?

Goals, as defined by Businessdictionary.com, is stated as “an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe”. It’s an online dictionary, but it is a good definition nonetheless. It has all the necessary elements of a good goal setting parameter. It is observable, it is measurable, it has objectives and it has a time frame. Great! Is it enough, though?

The granddaddy of goals

Let’s take a look at one instance of a goal that almost everyone has done in some parts of their life, the granddaddy of all goals, known as the “New Year Resolution”. The New Year Resolution often dies a premature death somewhere between February and March. Common phenomenon, right? You would think someone who has lived for more than 20 years would be quite adept at making and achieving goals, yet we still renew those goals every year with vigour and to have it all forgotten in a month or two.

 Why does this happen?

In my coaching and trainings, I observed and noticed patterns or similarities of these “quick to die” goals. Mind you, there are nothing wrong with the goals set. Some of the goals were well thought out, written to perfection and have all the necessary elements as stated above. However, it still does not survive past March. You see, the problem does not lie with the goals. It lies WITHIN the person setting those goals.

The lack of….

The most common factor of goals being discarded after a few months is the lack of ownership towards that goal. The goal simply came from a feeling of wanting to be accepted, for example losing weight, to look better for other people. Unconsciously, the goals were for another person and not the goal setter. Another example is work KPIs, where the end results are often shoved down the throats of employees by the management. The lack of ownership towards goals simply leads to lack of commitment. Without ownership and commitment, it is easy to forgo those goals when the going got tough and when it required focus and hard work. These people become victims of others.

The second most common factor is the limiting beliefs of the person. In their conscious minds, the goals are attainable. Unconsciously, they believe the goals are out of reach, for whatever reasons. In their unconscious mind exists limitations on achieving those goals. These limiting beliefs are harder to identify on the surface and often resulted from the experiences the goal setter has gone through. A good example of this would be a person who has a goal of having a great relationship with someone but has gone through a bad relationship experience before. Self-sabotage to prevent any potential hurt from a relationship similar to the previous one will emerge without being noticed.

There are many more reasons why goals are not achieved, and many ways to help us achieve those goals. We will look at them in more detail in the upcoming articles, including terms used in this article such as ownership, victims, limiting beliefs and more. Till then, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the skies. Jumpa lagi (see you again)!

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