Sometimes the most difficult part of goal setting is deciding exactly what you want. For some, this question has an obvious answer: better health, more money, a good education. For others it can be agonizingly difficult to decide on a course of action because life offers so many potential opportunities. If you fall into the latter category, try envisioning your ideal life in 5, 10, or 30 years. What will your typical day look like? What kind of person will you be? How will you make a contribution in the world? What legacy will you leave behind? Making a decision doesn't just mean saying to yourself, "I think I'd like to ..." or "it would be nice if I could ..." No, a true decision is a commitment, something you will achieve in spite of obstacles.
Now that you've created a vision of what you want to achieve, start working backwards to identify the steps required to arrive at your destination. These steps shouldn't rely entirely on luck, but on action. If your goal is to live in a large house with a backyard golf course, winning the lottery isn't a realistic plan for getting there. Instead, your plan might include obtaining vocational training for a high-paying job, getting out of debt, investing wisely and learning how to golf. Your plan should cover every aspect of helping you get from where you are to where you want to be. If you are unsure how to move forward, it might help to talk to someone who is already doing what you want to do and find out how they got there.
Once you've completed your plan, begin working on the first step. If you find that your plan isn't helping you to achieve your goal, then you either need to recommit or change your plan. It's okay to try different approaches as long as you stay focused on the end result. If your plan looks good on paper but isn't working in real life, change it!
When you begin working towards a goal, it can sometimes be helpful to tell trusted friends and supportive family members about your plans. The simple act of telling someone else about your plans makes them seem more real.
The point of goal setting is to get across the finish line, otherwise it's no different from wishing or dreaming. When you get discouraged, and you will, affirmation can strengthen you. Write down your goal and your reasons for wanting to achieve it, then read it out loud to yourself each day, envisioning how you will feel when you achieve it. Remember, if anyone can change your life, it's you! Be confident in your ability to succeed, take in all the positive information and success stories you can, and surround yourself with people who have done or are in the process of doing exactly what you want to do.
It is important to celebrate every success along the way, even small ones. Look for healthy and inexpensive ways to reward yourself each time you complete a milestone in your plan, and take a moment to look back on the progress you've made.
When you've achieved your goal, your work isn't done. Most worthwhile endeavors require a certain level of lifelong commitment, but it is usually much easier to maintain a change than to create it in the first place.
After you've gone through the process of setting and achieving a goal, it's time to start thinking about your next adventure. As someone who chooses your own course, you won't just be drifting aimlessly in the meandering currents of life, wondering where the wind will blow you next. You'll come to understand that the power to change your life, your world, and your circumstances lies within you.