How to Get Things Done: Part 2 – Set Your Goals


How to Get Things Done

Now that we have explored the challenge of getting started and how it involves identifying a starting point, it’s time to look at how to move towards your endpoint: how to set your goals.

We have been told from a young age how important is it to have goals. Indeed, most of us have heard some proverbial line such as, “if you aim at nothing you will hit nothing.”

And that’s true. But how to begin?

Understand Your Goals

The first step is having at least a sense of what goals you wish to achieve for a particular time period. Take some time and get an idea, ANY IDEA, in your head. Don’t worry about whether your goals are too narrow or too wide.

For example:

  1. You want to master a particular passage or make it through a piece by memory.
  2. You want to complete two chapters of a book that you are studying in a single evening.
  3. You want to take your students through an entire topic over the course of one week.
  4. You want to successfully raise adequate funds for starting a new project within six months.

Once you have your initial ideas, your next step involves clarifying and refining them. Determine specific goals rather than just abstract concepts or wishes.

Manage Your Goals

Divide your objectives up between long-term, medium-term, and short-term goals. You need a balance between the “big-picture” and the everyday little details. Having only long-term goals often results in those goals remaining as dreams. Let’s look at the following goals:

         Becoming a world-famous cellist.

        Successfully performing and winning a competition before you finish college.

        Learning a movement of the Prokofiev First Cello Concerto this semester.

Which goal seems the most realistic to achieve? Which seems the furthest off?

Long-term objectives are often what drive us to consistently work hard over time. They can be as a grand as playing in Carnegie Hall or as (relatively) modest as developing a sense of confidence, performing in front of people. But, by definition, long-term goals take TIME. We cannot achieve them overnight.

Moreover, having only long-term goals without short- and mid-term checkpoints poses problems–it is far too easy to become lost in the pursuit of something way off in the future. Building in these checkpoints–to help keep us grounded and on track–makes long-term goals more manageable. In addition, short- and medium-term goals provide the following advantages: the successes one achieves in their pursuit, are more immediate and more easily measurable. These smaller, more immediately gratifying successes serve as positive reinforcements to keep us working at the longer-term goal. Short- and mid-term checkpoints also allow us a chance to re-examine our long-terms goals, and make necessary course corrections along the way.

Align Your Goals

Another key step in goal-setting is to make sure that your goal types have a logical contribution flow. You are more assured of success, if  your short-term goals help you move towards your mid-term goals, which in turn help you get closer to your “dream.”

This seems obvious enough, but you might be surprised at how often people engage in tasks that are irrelevant to their longer-term goals.

I often advise people to use some sort of flowchart to help them keep track of their objectives and progress, when they are dealing with a more complex set of goals.

Finally, throughout this process of goal-setting, it is vital to be mindful of what challenges lie ahead of you. Just as when you look through a piece of music before playing it to see what road bumps you may run into, you should have a sense of what you are going to encounter, in the short-, mid-, and long-term pursuit of your goals.

In the next part of this series, we will take a deeper look at how to put a roadmap together.

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One Response to How to Get Things Done: Part 2 – Set Your Goals

  1. James Valente September 24, 2017 at 11:18 pm #

    Excellent post on goals. I am very happy to read. Thanks for providing great information. Thanks.

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