When is the best time to set goals? We all know goal setting is important and that it helps us achieve bigger and better things, but when should we be setting goals? Revisiting and assessing goals is something you should be doing regularly. Many people who write out their goals revisit that list weekly. Others create vision boards with visual reminders of what they are working towards. Some people even write their goals out every day.
However, when do you need to take the time out to completely reassess your goals and go through the entire goal setting process again? Or, if you don’t have any goals set for yourself yet, what could trigger you to start setting yourself goals?
Check out 7 of the best times to set goals for yourself:
1. When You Want New Results
As Newton said in his first law of motion, an object in motion stays in motion, or as the non-physicists would say, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. If you realise areas of your life can be improved, this is a good indication you need to set some goals. Do you dread your commute to work? Do you wake up next to your partner without that same level of emotion?
If you look in the mirror and don’t like the person looking back, you need to set goals. You may not need to quit your job or your relationship to experience new results, but you likely need to shift your attitudes and behaviours to get better results. Write out your goals, assess where you want to go, and decide whether your current situation is supporting that.
2. When Something Unexpected Happens
Everything is perfect but suddenly, the phone rings, you get the news, and you realise immediately life isn’t going to be the same. Whether these surprises are good or bad, what is important is that we assess where we go from this point and plan accordingly.
How many times have you heard about lottery winners that lose it all and end up worse off than before? How about the person that says losing their job was the best thing that ever happened to them? If something unexpected happens, use that to your advantage and incorporate it into your journey. After all, no one said the path to success was a straight line.
“Press forward. Do not stop, do not linger in your journey, but strive for the mark set before you.” — George Whitefield
3. When You Hit Rock Bottom
Sometimes, we end up in a place we don’t want to be. As Einstein said “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” and so to get off of rock bottom, something needs to change. Those people who are able to escape often have to make big changes in their life to make this possible. Although we never want to reach rock bottom, sometimes this is exactly the momentum shift we need to really start making good things happen in our lives.
4. At School or University
When you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, you get some pretty inspiring answers. However, as they spend longer in school, that response often gives way to shorter-term goals of passing the test next week. Somewhere between dreaming of being an astronaut and passing their final exam, the big-picture goal disappears. By regularly setting goals throughout the education process, and by creating action plans to help achieve those goals that run alongside their education, not instead of, we can nurture those dreams, rather than extinguish them.
5. After A Big Setback
Even if the momentum is all going your way, sometimes suddenly the light turns red. Although we all hope nothing bad will ever happen to us, eventually we will experience a setback. For many people, this is enough to make them throw in the towel. However, setting goals has a positive influence on your persistence and ability to deal with adversity. You will have to change your plan, no doubt, but you don’t have to let this setback stop you from reaching your goals. It is not about the cards you are dealt, it is about how you play the hand.
6. After A Big Win
Once the confetti has settled, the hangover has faded and the congratulations messages stop coming in, what next? Often, when we reach a goal, we have put so much focus and effort on getting to that point, we haven’t looked beyond it. After big wins, take a moment to reflect and decide on your next challenge. You have shown it can be done, so now turn your attention to your next goal. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the success, but this is not your destination, rather one significant stepping stone on your ultimate journey to success.
“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” — Sam Levenson
7. New Year’s Resolutions
Finally, we can use the new year as a signal we should re-evaluate the direction our life is heading. Although setting goals on New Year’s Day rarely works on its own, reflecting on the previous year’s results and experiences can provide some good context for areas of life to be developed. Using an exercise such as the Wheel of Life helps you decide which areas you need to develop.
If in the previous year you fell short in some areas, those should be the focus of your resolutions. If you are going to set goals, set ones that are meaningful and work on those, rather than just joining the gym and blasting it for a week. If all the treadmills are busy in January, there must be space elsewhere to work on your other goals.
So there you have it, the 7 best times to be setting goals. Ultimately,the more often you set goals, the more your attention will be focused on the things that are important to you, the more energy you will have to pursue these goals, and the more persistence you will develop in the face of adversity. If in doubt, set goals more often rather than less often, and assess your progress regularly.