If you set the best personal goals, you will have tremendous power to transform your life.

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IMPACT Goals helps you set the best personal goals for you

You can set the best personal goals using the IMPACT Goals system

This goal setting system helps you to integrate your goals with your core values to give you the momentum to achieve your ambitions.

It takes you beyond other goal methods like SMART goals to enable you live your life with meaning and passion.

If you would like to find out what is the best way to set personal goals for yourself, then read on.

Why set goals?

The most successful people in the world set life goals.

High achievers, elite athletes and top influencers create personal goals so that they know where they are going and how to get there.

They have answered the question, “What should I do with my life?”

They often have life coaching to help them, because a life coach helps you achieve your goals faster. 

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Setting personal goals gives you a beacon that you can focus on your progress and monitor it.

This enables you to achieve more, faster, to be happier and more fulfilled.

Goal setting in business

I studied and practised in depth how goal setting helps in business, frequently leading the activity in companies where I worked.

There are many excellent resources available in books, online and as training.

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Indeed, an introduction in how to set goals has become a core part of most business and HR training courses.

Setting clear goals has made a big difference to my success at work and in business throughout my career.

The skills enabled me to easily develop strategies, write a mission and paint a vision, as well as create short term tactical goals.

What about setting personal goals?

I found that I wanted to go beyond business with my goal setting, into the real world.

I wanted to find something that would help me set ambitious and fun goals for my personal life as well as practical goals at work.

But setting goals in daily life and in particular around relationships is something that seems to be avoided for being too calculating, too robotic.

When it comes to relationships, we are often advised to “live in the moment”.

That is all very well, unless, like me, you see moments as part of a larger context.

These very same relationships are the most important thing in our lives.

I can lose my job and find support, I can lose my money and find happiness, but lose my relationships and I lose the foundation that my life is built on.

We humans are social animals and disregard our relationships at our peril.

So how do you set the best personal goals?

How IMPACT Goals came to life

I came to realise that I needed a new approach for setting goals that embraced the challenges in everyday life.

I took the lessons from resolving my own problems and crises, and from business, complemented them with the more practical ideas from professional sports, modern psychology and ancient wisdom, to create a new way for setting goals, called IMPACT Goals.

The IMPACT Goal method is about integrating your goals with your values to give you the impetus to pursue your ambitions, aspirations and dreams, and enable you to be the best you can be.

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I have taken into account the reality that most of us cannot devote all our time to a single goal, instead need to manage the conflicting demands of daily life and the desire to achieve balance.

This new personal goal setting framework is there to help you work through crises, strengthen relationships and prioritise your aspirations, dreams and passions.

What are SMART Goals?

You may have heard of SMART goals, because it is probably the most widely known acronym when setting goals.

It has become part of the everyday lexicon in business, with people asking, “Is your goal SMART?”

So, what are SMART Goals?

There are variants of what S.M.A.R.T. stands for, though the most common and perhaps the original being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound.

Alternatives include changing Achievable to Attainable (which seem the same to me) or Assignable (which is useful when managing people), Realistic to Relevant (which is an improvement) and Timebound to Timely (I’m not sure what the difference is).

There is no doubt that this simple, memorable acronym is a useful tool for setting tactical goals in a business setting.

I use it frequently.

It can also be useful for setting practical goals at home or for any tactical goal that has a clear, measurable outcome, such as a monetary value or finishing a task.

What is wrong with SMART goals

I feel that there is something missing in “SMART” when it comes to setting personal goals that help us achieve our ambitions and desires, rescue us from a crisis or develop our personal relationships.

It is the “why”.

Without knowing why we are doing something, we lack the motivation to do it.

That is not to say we are lazy; generally, people are not.

We just need to be clear why we are putting time and effort into something.

Life is short – and busy – and we want to make the most of our time.

Understanding your personal “why” – your reason d’être – is about understanding your core values.

This can be critical to help give you the guidance to get through a difficult time or pull yourself out of a mess.

Crises are often caused by a conflict of values and expectations, in ourselves and in others.

Being in a crisis can lead to feeling overwhelmed.

This in turn can result in you lacking direction, being rudderless.

Having a clear sense of your core values – your own personal “why” –  gives you conviction as well as direction.

You could add “Y” to the end of SMART to make SMARTY.

Unfortunately, that reminds me of “smartypants” or “Smarties”, the colour-laden candy – it does not do it for me!

Also, it is putting “why” at the end rather than the beginning of the process of setting your goals, when your goals should follow on from and be fully integrated and aligned with your core values.

How do I set the best personal goals?

You maybe asking yourself “I want to set great goals. How do I do this?”

If you want to create goals so that you can be the best version of yourself, then you should put your values at the heart of your goal setting.

These values give you the “why”.

“Why” is so fundamental, because it is the engine that drives us towards achieving our goals.

Yet, “why” can be the hardest part for us to figure out when setting a goal.

Often we set goals without taking the time to make sure that they reflect our values.

You could set a personal goal that appears realistic and measurable, such as seeking a promotion or changing jobs, however, if you ask why you want these, there is a risk that the whole edifice could crumble:

  • Why do you want to be a manager, when it is a position where you spend much of your time being squeezed by those above and below you, and have little influence on the company?
  • Why do you want to move jobs when what you might move to entails risk and make take more time away from your family?

You need to fully understand your core values to answer these questions in the best way. 

Few of the personal development books in my library talk about the importance of “why”.

There are some books on business goals that address it, such as Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ Built to Last and Simon Sinec’s Start with Why, the latter being a complete book on the importance of “why” to companies.

But not books on personal goals, and I think that the reason is two-fold.

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The “why” in business goals

In the case of business, most people do not need to understand why they are doing something.

The outcome is clear because of the contract between company and worker: you do your job and the company will pay you so that you can fund your life outside work.

Knowing “why” can help motivate the workforce to greater efficiency, as in the case of companies like Apple, Body Shop or Google, where the workers may work harder because they believe that they are doing something greater than themselves.

For most companies, knowing why is not part of the workers’ contract, either explicit or implicit.

The “why” in personal goals

In the case of personal goals, taking the time to work out what truly motivates you can be hard, but is worth doing, because it gives you the opportunity to answer the question, “How can I be the best that I can be?”

It requires us to stop and assess our values.

Doing this can lead to a reassessment of our lives and this understanding may lead to profound dissatisfaction.

We might not like what we find.

Assessing our values can take us out of our comfort zone.

This in turn can lead to change for the better.

The power of IMPACT Goals

The power of integrating your goals with your values became clear through a better understanding of myself, as well as the nature of goal setting.

I came to realise that I could lead a more fulfilling life if I did this and applied lessons from other goal setting systems.

It also helped me get through crises more easily.

If we want to achieve our ambitions, aspirations and dreams, then setting IMPACT Goals makes this more likely.

What does I.M.P.A.C.T. Goals stand for?

IMPACT Goals are:

  • Integrated
  • Measured
  • Positive
  • Action-focused
  • Challenging 
  • Time-focused

You might be asking how do I set life changing goals using the IMPACT Goal method, so let’s look at these one by one.

Integrated

Life changing goals involve going through a journey with ups and downs.

There will be tough times as well as good.

Some people and events will hold you back and deflect you from your course.

Aspects of modern life, such as social media and 24 by 7 News, can distract you from your core values and cause “dis-ease”.

All this makes maintaining motivation and focus on your goals hard unless they are integrated with your core values.

Identifying and truly knowing your core values helps you focus and understand why you are doing something.

It can help you achieve what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “Flow“, so that your work becomes your passion, and your passion becomes your life.

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Measured

There is no doubt that making sure your goals are measured is fundamental to good goal setting.

It is easy to track business goals using measures like a revenue target, an increase in efficiency or a decrease in waste.

Tracking personal goals, particularly if the goal is to do with relationships, is more difficult and nuanced.

IMPACT Goals deals with this by enabling you to create “Gateways” to your dreams.

These Gateways can be:

  • Steps
  • Rewards 
  • Habits

When you set steps to achieve your goal, your next step should be crystal clear. 

Others, in the more distant future, can be vague, providing you with an outline of your path to success.

The smaller and easier the steps that you set, the more likely you are to quickly progress to your destination.

Rewards are there to help motivate you by pulling you forward.

Some people need a push, so a negative reward or penalty can give them a kick start.

Bad habits are a barrier to achieving your goals, so learning how to change them can be helpful.

Many people equate goal setting to earning more.

Most (all!) of us lead busy lives with many important and conflicting aspects to them.

We might believe that more money will lead to more time and better balance in our lives.

Often the opposite is true, as we juggle developing great relationships with family and friends, keeping our body and environment healthy, progressing in our work or career, as well as keeping mentally sharp and developing spiritually.

If our goals are balanced across these and many other areas, then we can consider them as “measured”.

Positive

It goes without saying that goals should be positive – there is no point in a negative goal!

But as well as being written in a positive way, do they have a positive impact on your life?

And how do you remain positive as you pursue them?

Especially in a world full of stress, fear and worry.

Elite Sports increasingly shows us that positive psychology and having a positive mindset can be the difference between being the winner or loser, number one or number two.

A key skill in achieving this is visualisation.

The IMPACT Goals model helps you set positive goals and maintain a positive attitude, especially in the face of fear.

Action-focused

Procrastination is the goal-killer.

If we do not have clear and concrete steps towards our goals, it will be harder to achieve them.

We desire rewards to maintain our motivation.

We want to develop good habits.

Our goals need to be action-focused.

Being action-focused is not the same as being results-focused.

One of the lessons of modern goal setting in Elite Sports is the recognition that you are more likely to be successful if you focus on you actions and the process, rather than on the result that you want.

The idea is that if you look after the process, the result will look after itself.

Challenging

One of the things about SMART goals that does not sit comfortably with me is the A and the R. 

I’m not really sure what the difference is between Achievable goals and Realistic goals: isn’t an achievable goal realistic and vice versa?

In any case, where is the fun in something that is realistic and achievable?

Surely it is better to push yourself.

To be your best.

For your goals to be challenging.

As the saying goes “Shoot for the moon, and even if you miss you will land among the stars”.

Elite Sports is about setting challenging goals. 

The ability to get into “the Zone” and keep cool under pressure are a fundamental skills to put you in the best position to achieve challenging goals.

I prefer the sports psychology mantra: “control the controllables” to achievable and realistic, because even if you set challenging goals, you can focus on what you can control.

Collins and Porras found, in their book Built to Last, that the companies that set themselves “big, hairy, audacious goals” were the ones that really excelled in their industry.

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Time-focused

If the goal is important to you then you should allocate time to it.

There is no doubt that time is key in goal-setting.

Time is important because time is scarce: it is the one resource that we cannot get more of.

Making goals timebound can be key to motivating yourself – there is little more motivating than a deadline! 

More crucially, if the goal is important to you then you must allocate time to working on it.

In short, goals need to be time-focused.

Interested to learn more about the best way to set personal goals?

IMPACT Goals are about integrating your goals with your values so that you create a timeless passion for pursuing your ambitions, aspirations and dreams. 

You can find out more about each part of IMPACT Goals in my blog.

I recommend both the books that were core to the creation of IMPACT Goals and which had something interesting to say under resources.

And finally, if you would like to set the best personal goals, then come to the next IMPACT Goal setting workshop:

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