Projects: the word weasels its way into all areas of our life, for better or for worse. We see projects in school, at our job, and in our personal lives. Sometimes we even view people—including ourselves—as projects.
Whether individual or group, projects don’t go away once you finish your education. That’s why it is important to learn how to manage projects through project goals. As some may call it, project management is an excellent skill to have in all areas of everyday life.
With a more in-depth look, we can understand the importance, the frequency, and the necessity of setting project goals. I think you will find that projects can be a lot easier to manage once you have a better grip on the benefits of planning.
Why Are Goals Important?
If you have ever set and accomplished a goal, major or minor, you probably don’t even need to ask this question. Goals serve a vital purpose in our life. They drive us to do our best and give us something to shoot for.
Without goals, it becomes too easy for us to aimlessly wander through life, letting anything and everything else control us.
If that’s not enough to convince you, take a look at a few more specific reasons why you should start setting goals as soon as possible.
When you set a goal, you’ve already taken the first step towards moving forward. And everyone knows, if you’re not moving forward, you’re either stuck or moving backwards. A written goal spells out your inner desires and gives you something to strive for.
Have you ever written down a goal? If you have, and you have delved into the process of making concrete plans, you know that feeling of excitement that overwhelms you as it happens. The motivation drives you like adrenalin, pushing you to that satisfying completion.
In the end, you wind up further than you were before. You’re stronger mentally—and sometimes physically, if that was your goal—and you experienced this confidence boost that makes you all-over happier and more content.
Conquer the “Impossible”
Has anyone ever told you that you can’t? You can’t possibly accomplish that goal; it’s too hard for you. You’re not good enough.
Maybe that person was you.
Sometimes our goals can seem like towering mountains looming over us, daring us to climb and warning us away at the same time. While it can be easy to walk away from that mountain and let someone else climb it, imagine how amazing it will fill to do it yourself.
When you look at goals like that—like something to conquer—rather than something to fear, it becomes a wonderful challenge. And when you accomplish it, you get to say that you conquered your “impossible.”
It’s a simple truth that goals keep us accountable for ourselves. Without goals, we have no scale with which we can measure our progress and failures. If you fail without that measuring stick, it’s much easier to brush it off. You weren’t really trying to accomplish anything anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you fail.
While failures are certainly not the end of the world and should never be a cause to give up completely, we can learn from them. A failure should teach us something, so while we shouldn’t let them crush us, we should still acknowledge them and use them to our advantage.
Having a goal lets us use our failures in the best way. They help us re-evaluate and make positive changes when we realize we haven’t made the progress we were hoping for. They force us to stay alert, stay focused, and stay accountable.
Living Life to the Fullest
We have already briefly mentioned how not setting goals causes you to live your life without direction. When you don’t have any goals, you’re missing out not only on valuable experiences but the idea of exploring your own potential.
Avoiding goals will only lead to a simple, closed-off life. Perhaps some people are okay with that, but the happiest people are the ones who constantly stretch themselves, never staying in one place for too long, progress-wise.
Setting goals allows you to keep moving, keep going, and keep achieving. The more you accomplish, the more you can try to accomplish. When you reach one goal, you’ve moved forward enough to tackle the next one.
Set goals. Live your life. Stretch yourself.
How to Practice Setting and Accomplishing Goals
Let’s assume that I’ve convinced you: goals are a great idea and you want to do it. Now what? In terms of setting goals, it’s important to get yourself organized. A clear thought process will do you a lot of good. These simple steps can help make it easier.
Choose a Goal
The first step in setting goals is to decide what you want or need to achieve. Think of something—anything—that you’d like to work towards. There are no limits in this step, really; choose something that you have thought about before but pushed off and set aside for whatever reason. There is no reason to wait any longer. Make today the day that you finally put that goal in writing.
Your choice can include fitness goals, a dream job, educational excellence, emotional health, and beyond. Think about what means the most to you and set your sights on it. Be creative and be bold. Challenge yourself but remember to be realistic at the same time.
Your options are limitless here, so don’t be afraid to go for what you really want. This step isn’t about what your parents want or what your friends think. It is solely about you and your personal drive. If you want it, go for it.
Write it Down
Possibly the best way to solidify your goal is to write it down. I’m not talking about sending a text to your friends and telling them about your goal. That’s all well and good, but I’m talking about good old-fashioned pen and paper.
Take a note card, a sticky note, a piece of paper, and hand-write your goal. Keep this written statement somewhere you will see a lot. Sticky notes are great because you can stick them practically everywhere. Put them on your desk, your laptop, or your bathroom mirror. Stick one on the fridge or on your nightstand.
Make your goal a strong statement, too. Don’t write, “I want to lose weight.” Write, “I will lose 30 pounds by…” Confidence will take you a long way, and writing it down will only help.
Think about your days in school. Throughout your classes, you took notes. You didn’t do this just to pass the time; you did this so that you would better remember everything your teacher was saying. In fact, you would even underline, circle, or highlight the extra important points.
Writing something down is a key component to remembering it and marking it as important. Your goals are important—write them down.
Now that you have literally written your goal down send that text to your best friend. Talk to your siblings or call up your parents. Tell someone out there that you have made this commitment. I recommend telling someone who can rely on.
Doing this gives you a kind of accountability partner. When you don’t tell anyone about your goals, no one can help you. While you may be confident that you can achieve on your own, it never hurts to have a friend in your corner, checking in and encouraging you to keep going on the days when you just don’t have it in you.
Never underestimate the power of an annoying, but consistent, accountability partner.
Determine Your Steps
Your goal on its own can feel a little daunting. However, if you take the time to break it down and figure out some steps along the way, it can feel much easier.
Look at your goal at large, then take a step back. What smaller objective can you conquer that will get your closer to the finish line?
For example, perhaps you’re a college student, and your goal is to graduate college. That’s anywhere from two to four years of classes, exams, papers, projects, and (hopefully) a social life. That’s pretty substantial.
Rather than focusing specifically on that degree, take it one semester at a time—set objectives towards passing with a specific grade point average and cross things off as you go. A smaller example might be rather than focusing on passing a class, set your sites on passing each exam.
These smaller objectives make your goals seem more achievable, which can be a huge morale booster.
Don’t Quit; Adjust
There may be times when you’re in the middle of a goal that it all seems too much, and you feel like your goal is conquering you, not the other way around. Discouragement is bound to happen; failures are a very real part of life, and we all experience them.
Don’t let your failures determine the outcome of your goals. Use them to learn, as we discussed before. When you hit a wall or even a small bump, learn to adjust. Making your workout plan is too difficult for your body to handle. That doesn’t mean you should stop going to the gym; it just means you need to make adjustments that work for you.
Perseverance is an admirable quality to possess, and it will get you far. Don’t quit because of a setback, and never be afraid to ask for help.
What do you do when you graduate high school or college? You throw a party! Why? Because you deserve to celebrate your accomplishments and all that you have worked for.
The same goes for our personal goals. While you may have been the only one to witness your journey, it’s still important, and it’s still an achievement. You should celebrate any goals that you accomplish, even if it’s with something small.
Treat yourself to a night out, a pedicure, a milkshake—anything you can think of that feels like a celebration to you. If you had people helping you along the way, invite them to celebrate with you. Your loved ones will be just as proud of all that you have worked for. Don’t hide that!
Where Do Project Goals Come into Play?
Project goals are no different in terms of personal goals, in that you need to define them, you need to plan out your objectives, and you should have an end date set.
When the word project comes up, it is usually in reference to one of three topics: work, group (school), and home. All of these projects can have similar goal structures, but they may have different meanings, outcomes, and steps along the way.
Let’s break them down a little.
Many people see work projects as the most important of the three. While everyone values different things in life, work projects are the only one of this list that could make or break your career. For that reason, work projects tend to be quite stressful.
At the same time, work projects can be individual work or team collaboration. Depending on your personality, you may enjoy one over the other. In both situations, it’s important to stay focused on the end game.
Your work projects are not only important to you and your career, but to your company as well. The worst part about a failure in this area is that you are not the only person who will suffer the consequences.
Group projects: the dreaded phase. If you were anything like me during high school or college, group projects were something you quite literally hated. Group projects at this level were designed to teach you how to work together with others and prepare you for the real world where you will encounter work projects.
However, at younger ages with no salary at risk, there was always that very real risk that your group would include someone who didn’t feel like pulling their weight. While I’m sure this happens in work projects as well, there was a greater chance in high school or college where some people just wanted to have fun and do the bare minimum.
Group projects require patience and encouragement. As much as you may get frustrated with your group members and worry about them not pulling their weight, it’s important to remember that you are receiving a grade, and therefore must do whatever it takes to get the project done.
Home projects are probably the least serious and most fun of the list. These projects can include things like painting, redecorating, landscaping, home repairs, and even do-it-yourself décor. While you may not enjoy everything included on that list, it’s true that some people view gardening as a hobby and others love to paint.
Home projects, while less serious, still requiring some form of planning with a goal at the end—especially if you want to get the project done with no to very little time in between steps. These are the projects that tend to get left unfinished. There’s less urgency, and more important things come up so that yard work gets put off and repairs are left half done.
But imagine if you were organized to the point where you could accomplish a home project in just one weekend. The satisfaction that comes with home project goals is much more personal than the latter two but feels just as good.
Why Are Project Goals Important?
Unlike other types of goals, project goals are often a part of a bigger picture, which usually means they affect someone other than you or your immediate family. The pressure is on with these ones; if you fail, you’re not the only one facing the ramifications.
That’s not to say that failure in a personal goal is no big deal. However, in terms of outcome, project goals can lead to worse consequences.
Let’s take projects in the workplace, for example.
Every project put into motion regarding business needs a few key things:
- Direction and Guidance
- Motivated Employees
- Defined Standards
- Set Budgets
- Structured Project Plans
The above list is full of points that are difficult to accomplish and manage in and of themselves. This is why most work environments have a hired Project Manager. Project goals are so vital in the workplace that businesses have employees who specialize in the management of all projects.
These professionals, along with their teams and higher-ups, coordinate all of the details that go into accomplishment business projects and goals. Without them and this detailed planning, businesses and companies wouldn’t be able to stay organized, ensuring they reach these goals.
All workplace projects will vary on levels of importance, but if your managers or business owners are asking for them, they probably play a significant role in your company’s success.
In terms of all projects, without structure, a plan, and some organization, you will never accomplish your goals. Like your personal goals, the completion of a project is an achievement. You should put as much planning into your projects as you do your fitness goals, your educational goals, and your career goals.
Working with a Team
Effective teamwork will get you very far within project goals. As we have mentioned, many project goals involve members of a team working in close collaboration towards the same goals. You can use some strategies to improve your chances of having a highly functioning team.
Take a look at these tips and implement them into your project goals.
Establish a Clear Goal
Nothing makes a project harder than poor communication and misunderstanding. That’s why it is absolutely vital that everyone on your team understands and acknowledges your project’s goal.
Every team project should start with a planning meeting. In this meeting, your project manager or team leader can detail exactly what your group is aiming to accomplish. They can open the floor up for questions and discussions, where your team members can voice their opinions and ask for clarifications.
Without a clear goal, who knows what your team members are all working towards. A lack of understanding and different interpretations of the project’s goals can lead to setbacks very quickly. Avoid having to extend deadlines and redo work by making sure everyone is on the same page.
On the topic of communication: your team needs it. And not just any communication, but good communication. Not only should everyone be made aware of what’s going on and the details of the project, but they should also feel free to voice their concerns, opinions, and ideas.
Without open, respectful communication, people can feel unimportant and unheard, which leads to discouragement and the feeling that someone is not needed.
Low morale and confidence will not drive your team. And a sense of general disrespect within your team will certainly not encourage members to speak up or be involved. Ensure that your team members feel like they belong in the group, rather than an outsider who submits work when they’re told to do so.
Encourage Creativity and Improvement
Project goals are never stagnant. The very fact that they’re called goals implies that your team is striving to make a positive impact and boost some sort of productivity. Your boss doesn’t tell you to complete a project just to give you busy work, and your professors don’t assign group projects for fun. There’s a goal in mind, so improvement should be at the forefront of everyone’s minds.
Likewise, creativity should never be discouraged. It’s innovative ideas that will make your project stand out from others. Without innovation, very few people would see success in the business world. Without creativity, your team’s projects would surely turn out unimpressive.
Promote the idea of continuous creativity and improvement. Keep your team members thinking. Never call someone’s idea dumb.
Solve Conflicts Immediately
In a team environment, it’s likely that you will run into some issues among your members. Group projects have a way of taking people from different backgrounds with a variety of personalities and forcing them to work in sync and in harmony.
We all know that’s not always the case.
If you see a conflict arising in your project team, address it as soon as possible. Personal problems and even professional differences can affect the goal your team is working towards. While you may not necessarily be able to solve any personal beef between your co-workers, you can do your best to make it very clear that these issues should not be brought into the workplace.
Make sure your team knows that you see the issue going on and that it is negatively impacting your project goals. Everyone needs to be able to work together to accomplish the end game.
If you are in a leadership role within a project, make sure you stay hands-on. Many leaders like to give orders better than they like to participate, and that’s not nearly as effective as getting your hands dirty and contributing to the work being done.
As a leader, it’s your job to make sure everyone is performing as they should be. But, it’s also your job to be an example and work alongside your team members. Most people appreciate a leader who lends a helping hand, rather than one who sits in their big office just waiting for results.
Get in there and help make it happen. Not only will your team appreciate your efforts, but you will feel much more satisfied with the completion of the project, knowing you were heavily involved.
Always Deliver Quality Work
If every team member isn’t giving it their all, then your project won’t live up to its potential. As a team or group member, you may not be able to control the actions of your peers; but, you can control your own actions.
If everyone has that mindset, all should go as planned. Lead by example, working your hardest without holding anything back. Your project goals are important to you, but they’re also important to the people working with you.
Sometimes, if you can’t deliver your best, you shouldn’t deliver at all. Ask yourself what your part is in this project and how you can best serve your team members.
Project Goals: A Visible Outcome
We know that project goals and personal goals are equally as important, but sometimes project goals can feel better to accomplish because they typically produce a tangible outcome. A personal goal may deliver huge results emotionally, but a project goal usually lets you see the finished work.
Whether you are working on a project among team members or simply want to redecorate your guest room, it’s still important to take the steps towards deciding, planning, pushing, and accomplishing. Projects may seem like a big deal, and maybe they are, but they don’t have to be impossible.