How to develop the attitude of goal setting is one of the important requirements of success for the self-employed. Learn to understand the importance and the basic steps to master these principles.

Earl Nightingale wrote, “Happiness is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal or goal.” Goals fulfil the greatest need of human beings—a sense of meaning and purpose in life (Tracy, 2009). Goals are the key to all fulfilment and achievement (Meyer, 2008). They stipulate what you are committed to achieving. It describes what you want to achieve, how much you want to achieve and by when you want to achieve it (Hellriegel, Jackson, Slocum, 1999:220).

Take charge of your own life---Set your goals

Goal setting is vital for your success

What is Goal setting  ?

50 years of psychological research have determined that your locus of control determines your happiness in life. People who feel controlled by external factors, feel out of control, and as a result, they feel weak, angry, fearful, negative, hostile and disempowered. People who take charge of their lives, set goals and attain them, feel strong, confident and powerful (Tracy, 2009).

Setting goals is vital to success. Goals protect us from getting distracted or sidetracked. Goal-setting brings focus to our dreams and focuses our confidence, determination and whole personality towards achieving these goals (Meyer, 2008). One of the great benefits of goal-setting is that you control the direction of change in your life. Setting goals, working toward them day by day, and ultimately achieving them is the key to achieving your purpose (Tracy, 2009). Goals regulate our activities and measure our progress against the milestones that they set (Munroe, 2005:243). Where we end up in life is a direct result of the goals that we set or did not set for ourselves (Munroe, 2005:244). Goals protect us from the undue influence of other people and circumstances (Munroe, 2005:245). It gives us points to measure for progress toward our ultimate purpose (Munroe 2005:245).

Goal-setting is simply writing down your dreams, crystallizing your thinking and then developing a plan with a deadline for its attainment (Meyer, 2008). We cannot achieve success if we do not have a clear goal, a clear mental picture of what we want to attain.  We need to know where we want to go before we can go there (Hill, 2011). The goals give us the skeleton of our plan for achieving our purpose. They create targets for us to reach (Munroe, 2005:246).

Our goals need to be simple, written down and clearly defined. They must relate and lead us to the ultimate purpose.  They must be measurable and flexile (Munroe, 2005:246).

Basic principles of goal setting

Understand and apply these basic principles of goals setting to achieve your dreams

When you’re exploring possible goals, you need to unleash your imagination and ambition, put your reservations aside, and dream big dreams. However, make sure your goals are specific and clearly defined (Attitudes of Success, 2011). Your goals need to be measurable to enable you to determine if you are still working towards your dreams.
Once you’ve decided on a goal, make sure that it is realistic, and that you can actually achieve it in the time frame that you have set for yourself. For instance, if your goal is to run a marathon, it’s wildly unrealistic to sign up for one next month, unless you’ve already done several months of training. Or, if your goal is to become CEO of a company, but you have no experience, this goal might not be practical before you have gained the necessary experience (Mind Tools, 2014, Taylor, 2013, 8 Attitudes of Success, 2011).

If you don’t estimate goal completion time accurately, it can be discouraging when things take longer to achieve than you think they should. This can cause you to give up. Always take into account possible delays and setbacks (Mind Tools, 2014, Taylor, 2013).

Negative goals are emotionally unattractive, which makes them hard to focus on. We are less likely to achieve them. For instance, many people have a goal to “lose weight.” However, it is focused on what we do not want – our weight. A positive way to reframe this goal is to say we want to “get healthy.” Another example of a negative goal is to stop working late. A positive way to rephrase this is to “spend more time with family.” Reframing goals in a positive way can make a huge difference in how we perceive them (Mind Tools, 2014).
We often want to achieve so many things that we set too many goals. However, we only have a fixed amount time and energy. If you try to focus on too many different goals at once, you cannot give individual goals the attention they deserve. Work out the relative importance of everything that you want to accomplish and then set a few goals to focus on. Once you achieve those, you added others (Mind Tools, 2014).
When we plan, we often neglect to set goals for all areas of our lives. We tend to only focus on our work and omit goals for other parts of our lives. We need to also set goals for activities that enlighten our lives and bring us joy. So, when you set your goals, make sure that you strike the right balance between different areas of your life (Mind Tools, 2014).
Some people – family, friends, or the boss – may want to influence the goals you set. Perhaps they feel that they know what’s best for you, or maybe they want you to take a certain path or do certain things. Although it is important that you have good relationships with these people, your goals need to be your own, not anybody else’s. So be politely assertive, and do what you need to do (Mind Tools, 2014).
It takes time to accomplish goals. It is therefore important to take stock of everything that you have accomplished on a regular basis. Set small sub-goals, celebrate your successes, and analyze what you need to do to keep moving forward. Update your goals and priorities, based on what you have learnt. Goals are never set in stone, so don’t be afraid to amend them if you need to (Mind Tools, 2014).
No matter how hard you work, you will fail to achieve goals from time to time. However, your failures are what ultimately determine your character. They contain lessons that can change your life for the best, if you have the courage to learn from them. So take note of where you went wrong and use that knowledge to reach your goals next time (Mind Tools, 2014, Meyer, 2008, Chow, 2013).
Once we know what our goals are, what we are supposed to do, we need to prioritise. All activities that we undertake consume some of our time, talents, effort, energy and life. We therefore need a clear sense of what to do first; what action merits our primary attention; what should receive our primary resources; what should supersede all others (Munroe, 2005:239).  We need to manage our priorities. We have to set an agenda; make a to-do list.

In order to set our priorities, we need to look back at our vision and decide which goals must be pursued first to reach the dream. We need to distinguish between what is important versus what is urgent (Monroe, 2005:241). We need to distinguish between important opportunities and distractions (Munroe, 2005:242).

Once we know what our goals and priorities are, we need to decide the course of action we will take to achieve them. These strategies tell us how we plan to cope with threats and how we plan to take advantage of opportunities (Hellriegel, Jackson, Slocum, 1999:221). Once we have decided on the strategy we are going to follow to achieve our mission, we must plan how we are going to use the available resources that we have.  We need to look at the money that we have available to use; the people that can help us; the facilities and other resources that are on hand (Hellriegel, Jackson, Slocum, 1999:221).

Successful people work with what they have at hand— whatever comes along—and try to use everything at their disposal in achieving their goals. And that is why they are grateful for surprises, obstacles, and even disappointments. It gives them more information and resources to draw upon. And that helps keep them ahead of the other guy, and improves their odds of being successful (Brown, 2014, 8 Attitudes of Success, 2011)

You can find at least two ways to look at virtually everything. A pessimist looks for difficulty in the opportunity, whereas an optimist looks for opportunity in the difficulty. You can’t do anything to change the fact that a problem exists, but you can do a great deal to find the opportunity within that problem (Ziglar, 2014).

“The best way to treat obstacles is to use them as stepping-stones. Laugh at them, tread on them, and let them lead you to something better.” ― Enid Blyton, Mr Galliano’s Circus.
8 Attitudes of Success (2011): [Online] Available from http://yoursuccesshorizons.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/8-attitudes-of-successful-people.
• Chow, Anna (2013): Five tips for embracing thorns on your journey to success. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-chow/five-tips-for-tech-career-success_b_3679070.html
• Brown, Paul B. (2014): If you want to be successful welcome obstacles. [Online] Available from http://www.forbes.com/sites/actiontrumpseverything/2014/03/02/if-you-want-to-be-successful-welcome-obstacles.
• Hellriegel, D., Jackson, S.E., Slocum, J.W. (1999): Management 8th Edition. South-Western College Publishing.
• Hill, Napoleon (2011): Stepping Stones to Achievement. [Online] Available from http://www.success.com/article/from-the-archives-napoleon-hill.
• Meyer, Paul J (2008): It’s All About Attitude. [Online] Available from http://www.success.com/article/its-all-about-attitude.
• Mind Tools (2014): Eight Common Goal Setting Mistakes [Online] Available from http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/goal-setting-mistakes.htm.
• Tracy, Brian (2009): Take Control of Your Dreams. [Online] Available from http://www.success.com/article/take-control-of-your-dreams
• Ziglar, Zig (2014): Finding the Right Mental Attitude for Success from Success for Dummies. [Online] Available from http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/finding-the-right-mental-attitude-for-success.html.