[The Skills Series ~ #4] Goal Setting Skills
Part 4 of 11: Essential Skills Every Youth needs to Excel
Read the Skills’ Series Intro, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
”Phew! I hate thinking. I can’t stand planning. And besides, I don’t have enough time for all of this goal setting stuff”, a friend would moan habitually.
What she considers hard work and more activity to add on to her busy plate is a potential time management tool – which could direct her activities & enable her focus better on desired outcomes.
Since our main purpose in life is to worship Allah (SWT) with sincerity; aligning goals from all areas of life (spiritual, financial, intellectual, contribution etc) with this primary goal of worship is a responsibility that should not be compromised in any way.
Your goal setting skills & framework should thus be bound by proper knowledge, understanding & commitment to Islamic principles in words, thoughts, actions and intention.
To Set Goals or Not
Although it is not unusual to find yourself at a different position in life from friends and colleagues; what this simply means is that you are all taking different actions for different reasons. So it is perfectly okay to feel a lack of direction, uncertainty and fear due to various changes and choices. But it is not okay to move on without a game plan and tools to navigate through the game.
By planning for and managing your actions towards set goals, it becomes easier to prioritise in seeking relevant knowledge and resources from day to day; rather than being all over the place with no specific goal(s).
Consider an employee who has a goal of getting a promotion to the next level within a year and goes to work daily having this goal in mind and yet another employee who simply struggles to get to work from 9-5 without any career or financial goals.
Who do you think will have higher focus concerning the future and likely do better with managing time, effort and resources?
Setting goals helps you carve a direction in life. It also gives the ever purposeful Muslim an opportunity to set a sincere intention, make focused supplications & take guided actions. You can set goals in all areas of your life so that they connect to the hereafter and an ultimate vision of Paradise.
Tools to Consider
Using S.M.A.R.T goal setting strategies is recommended for a greater possibility of achieving your goals. These are goals that are clear and specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely.
Rather than making a goal of ‘memorising the Qur’an’, the SMART alternative is to ‘memorise the Qur’an in 2 & half years by memorising + reviewing 1 page every day & 1/30th in a month’.
To set successful goals from career to personal ones, you need the right tools for goal setting. Build your tool box with the following; good planning & review, writing, thinking & brainstorming, seeing the big picture, making choices, balancing your worldly and hereafter goals in all areas of life, making choices, right focus & observing progress.
These tools will allow you to work towards your goals while navigating through the challenges and trials in your youth. These goals could range from launching a project; Earning a degree with distinction; Publishing a book; Going for Hajj/ Umrah & Running a marathon.
– Balance your dunya (worldly) with akhirah (hereafter) goals.
– Write down your goals + action plan.
– Be clear about outcomes.
– Consider your resources.
– Spot distractions.
– Visualise the BIG picture [long term goals] & break down into smaller goals [short term].
– Be unrealistic.
– Be negative.
– Have no end target/ purpose.
– Forget to prioritise.
– Use vague words.
– Obsess with only results, focus equally on progress.
Goal setting is more than simply having a dream or announcing to the world what you want to happen. Achieving success with goal setting is largely dependent on clarity of intention – what you want and why you want it.
Staying on Track
Since your goals are uniquely yours, set them with the mind of doing the required work as you aim for the target. You can use small manageable markers along the way to check your progress.
Goals guide your actions but they are not set in stone. So learn to be flexible and always have room for creativity with your goals & ideas. Remember each step you take is a learning experience, because you will surely make mistakes but grow when you learn from such mistakes.
It is not possible to know for sure what the actions of others are based on, but you know what you want out of life and what contributions you want to make. As such you are accountable for yourself & the goals you set will help in taking purposeful steps.
Now that you are on the track to setting some goals, what comes next?
You should remember that your life and time in it is an Amanah (trust); you can invest in every minute as you work towards those worthy goals. It is not only for today but will remain as part of your records forever.
Successful goal setting ensures meaningful progress, through inner emotions and outward actions, knowing that you are bound by Allah’s plan (SWT) and a foremost desire to earn His pleasure.
”… And Allah is the best of planners” [Quran 8:30]
Do you set goals? If you do not, you can start right now and watch your drive increase, as your every action becomes filled with inner purpose. If you do already, sharpen your skills and aim for even better progress for the upcoming year. Make a decision NOW! What will you aim for today?
What are your top goals for the coming year? And how do go about your goal setting?