5 Goal Setting Exercises

Goals – be they large or small – often take a structured approach to achieve. The following are 5 great goal setting exercises that you can use as an individual or as a team to clearly define your aims and help you power towards success.

1. Your retirement dinner

Your retirement dinner

So, the aim of this exercise is to imagine that you’re at your own retirement dinner. During the speeches all of your friends, colleagues, and family are going to stand up and describe the type of person you are.

So, what would you like them to say about you? How would you like to be remembered? What about your work colleagues? What would you want them to say about you?

What this is doing is helping you to define what you’d like to be, and what you’ll hope to have achieved in the future. And by creating this vision, you’ll be reflecting on the personal values that are most important to you.

Once you’ve defined what you’d like people to be saying about you in the future, then you can compare this to the person you are today. This should give you some clarity into the goals that you want to achieve and need to work towards.

2. Play ‘the last time’

Play ‘the last time’

Emotions play a powerful part in out success or failure when we’re working towards our goals. They can assist you, or can have the effect of sending you astray. By understanding more about the effect emotions have on our ability to achieve our goals can help you realize where you need to focus more time and energy.

On a piece of paper write down the following questions:

  • The last time I felt proud of myself was…
  • The last time I did something I didn’t want to do but forced myself to do it anyway was…
  • The last time I developed a new skill was…
  • The last time I felt truly successful was…
  • The last time I felt amazingly and truly happy was…
  • The last time I felt true inner peace was…
  • The last time I felt completely focused was….

3. Play the ‘imitation game’

Play the ‘imitation game’

OK, so you’re not really going to imitate another person here. But what you are going to do is think of someone you respect and admire. Why do you feel this way about them? What are the qualities they have that make you feel this way about them?

Write these down, and focus on their qualities in each of the important areas of life, such as career, family, finances, health, fun, and health. Then, write a paragraph on why you think they are like this, and what you can do to make your life more like this.

When doing this, don’t limit yourself by any fears or doubts about yourself. What you’re doing here is writing an ideal scenario. When you’ve finished, you’ll be clearly able to see the areas in your own life that are important to you, and the goals you’d like to achieve.

4. Pick your ‘average perfect day’

Pick your ‘average perfect day’

The title of this goal setting exercise is pretty much given away in the title. What you do is to write down what your average perfect day would be. Now, we’re not talking about those once in a lifetime events that make everything super special. It’s not your wedding day, or the day you get that much coveted promotion. It’s, as the title says, an average day.

So, you’ll need to answer questions such as:

  • What time do you wake up?
  • Who are you with?
  • What do you do on awakening?
  • How do you get ready to start the day (for example, some meditation, go for a run, read the newspapers….)?

There’s no right or wrong questions to ask yourself – just be sure to make them as detailed as possible. When thinking about the questions, imagine that it’s a day you have to re-live over and over again, without getting exhausted, bored, or overwhelmed.

Once you’ve done this (and it may well take a while), you can begin to look at the differences between your current average day and the perfect one you’ve envisaged. OK – so there’s probably some huge differences. But the key here is to understand them, and to then start to put some small, easy to achieve steps in place to begin your journey towards that perfect day.

Start with the smallest change possible. For example: if you’d like to start the day with mediation, then set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and use that time to clear your mind. Did you know that it only takes around 30 days to create a habit? And by making small, achievable changes to your life, you’ll actively be creating larger (and as yet unseen) opportunities.

5. Play ‘priorities’

Play ‘priorities’

Goal setting is great, and can truly help us get where we want to. But the downside of goal setting is that on occasion, we can actually set too many goals. And the upshot of this is that we then fail to achieve any of them.

So, once you’ve defined what your goals actually are, it’s time to prioritize. And doing so isn’t as hard as you might think.

  • Write down your goals.
  • Categorize them. For example, in terms of work and career, finances, family, health etc. Some categories may have more goals in them than others – and that’s OK. This is YOUR life – not anyone else’s.
  • Then take some time to think about which area of your life you’d like to achieve your goals first. Don’t rush this – it doesn’t matter if you take hours or even days to understand this.

What’s critical here is to understand where to focus your efforts. If you concentrate on achieving too many goals at the same time, you’ll simply spread yourself to think and not achieve any of them.