How many goals are too many? It depends on how you manage them. Setting and achieving multiple goals means paying particular attention to how you allocate your time and energy. If you attempt to work towards more than one goal without a plan, you will quickly feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. It’s no wonder, then, that less than 10% of people end up achieving their goals.
However, with a bit of proactive consideration, it is possible to successfully achieve multiple goals across your personal and professional life while enjoying yourself along the way.
How many goals do you have?
When you think about your goals, what comes to mind? Do you have a personal goal, like improving your health or financial well-being? Do you have some assigned to you at work? If you own a business, do you have goals to support your growth?
One of the biggest mistakes people make when working on multiple goals is not taking a complete view of all the different areas of their lives. You may have one or two personal goals and another couple of work-related goals on top of that.
Each goal needs some of your time every day or week until you complete it. You will also be spending time on your ongoing tasks and commitments. This could include BAU (business as usual) tasks, meetings you need to attend, and time helping others you work with. At home, it’s the to-dos that you make up your daily life. The dishes still need to be done even when you are working on a life-changing goal!
To achieve multiple goals, you need to ensure you have enough time to spend on each of them. You need to look at them together to avoid underestimating the time required and putting yourself under unnecessary stress and pressure.
What is your priority?
Do you know which goal is a priority for you? If you are confused about ranking your goals from the beginning, it can cause confusion and procrastination as you work towards them simultaneously. If things don’t go according to plan, it will be more difficult to choose which goal should be de-prioritised, and all of them could suffer.
Think about the goals you are working towards and pick the one you must achieve, no matter what. You might speak to a partner, friend or colleague to help you with this. If you have multiple goals at work, you will want to ensure you and your manager agree on the priority goal.
When you know what your number one goal is, you must ensure you have enough time to achieve it. This goal won’t always be the thing that takes up most of your time, but you should have protected blocks of time every day or week to work on it. If needed, reduce your other goals to ensure you can have this time.
How are your goals connected?
The third mistake I see people making when it comes to multiple goals is not considering how they impact each other.
Are they sequential, linked, complementary or independent?
Some goals are sequential; you have to complete one before you can do the next. This is good to know because it’s better to use your time to focus on one goal at a time if this is the case. Knowing this in advance is excellent because you won’t feel guilty about not tackling everything simultaneously.
Goals may be linked to the same bigger, overarching goal. If you have linked goals, monitoring the bigger goal is crucial in ensuring that you continue to work towards the same overall objective.
You may have complementary goals. These can be worked on in parallel but can positively or negatively impact each other. Often work completed on one goal can change what needs to be done to achieve the other. If you make significant progress, it might speed up timelines for the other goal or, on the other hand, could reduce the amount of work that needs to be done. Complimentary goals should always be reviewed together.
Sometimes, goals are independent of each other. This can happen if you are looking at your goals holistically. For example, your work goals could be completely separate from your fitness goals. You can also have independent goals at work if you are on different projects. The important thing to remember is that you only have 24 hours in the day and your energy doesn’t double to match your multiple goals. You need to be intentional about where you spend your time on any given day.
Do you have existing, open goals?
Goals aren’t just set at the New Year. There might be longer-term goals or ones set at another time of the year that you are also working towards. These don’t automatically stop because you set new ones.
When considering your goals together and deciding which is the priority, you must include existing goals. Do you still have time for them? Are they still important?
How are the new goals connected to the ones you are already working on?
Just like goals need to be set to begin with, they need to be closed out when they are done. Whenever you set a new goal, review all your open goals and decide what you will continue working on.
How do you measure progress?
When working on multiple goals, you will make progress at different times and speeds. To help you stay motivated and ensure you are still on the right track, it is essential to measure your progress regularly.
You can use the popular SMART acronym when setting your goals to help you measure progress.
And in addition to this, you can set milestones that will help you identify key moments on your journey. This is more effective than measuring progress by tasks. The outcomes or results are important; the individual tasks may change along the way.
Considering the risks and issues which could prevent your goal success should always be considered when you measure your progress. Risks are things that could go wrong. When you identify them in advance, you can decide if you want to reduce the chance of them happening, if you need help from someone else or if you are going to accept that there is nothing you can do about it and it needs to be monitored.
Issues are things that have gone wrong. These are things that are actively impacting your ability to achieve the goal. Issues must be resolved, or you must change your plans to find a new path to success.
Finally, when tracking progress, you must check for goal conflict. Even if your goals appear to be independent initially, things may change as you progress. Check whether work in one area puts another at risk, and decide what action you need to take.
Working towards multiple goals brings variety to your week and can give you a sense of satisfaction as you achieve each milestone. When you look at your goals as a complete set and know how they are connected, you are more likely to make better decisions about how much time you spend on each one. Tracking your progress will help you better manage any issues and risks, and knowing your priority will keep you on track even if things don’t go to plan.
Review your goals today and make any changes you need to set yourself up for success.