Upstart Your Life: Introduction to Personal Goal Setting for Beginners | Kariuki Mugo | Skillshare

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Upstart Your Life: Introduction to Personal Goal Setting for Beginners

teacher avatar Kariuki Mugo, Director, Coach, Writer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (31m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Understanding Your Priorities

    • 3. Defining Goals

    • 4. Importance of Goal Setting

    • 5. How Goals Work

    • 6. Six Strategies for Good Goals

    • 7. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Upstart Your Life: Introduction To Personal Goal Setting For Beginners

How is your life today?

Do you live with daily intention, or do you just manage to get by year after year? Either way, you get to live and achieve something. Because it is possible to achieve stuff with or without planning. But without a plan, many things can go wrong without you knowing.

I have lived longer without goals, so no judgement here! But I have learnt my lessons the hard way. And that is why I have created this class for you. To help you take control and set you up for success in the game of life.

Who am I?

Hi. I’m Kariuki Mugo. For the last two decades, I have successfully managed and directed projects and programmes for leading development organizations that have served millions of marginalized people worldwide. Meaning that goals have been at the heart of my career all along.

Sadly, I did not know how to use this professional know-how to organize and supercharge my own life until about five years ago. Back then, everything started to feel empty and worthless without any visible cause. Through hours of painful reflection, I finally found my way out of this misery by learning to set and manage my values and goals. And that completely transformed my life for the better.

This class is intended to give your life a big boost!

I invite you to share my experience in the power of setting personal goals. In this class, I will make you:

  • Understand what goals are to help you build a strong foundation from the base.
  • Know why you should set personal goals and reveal how goals transform your life.
  • Demonstrate how goals work using simple models to unravel this go-getters’ secret.
  • Practice prioritization because change begins when you know what matters most.
  • Sharpen your techniques to upgrade you from a novice to a good goal setter.

Whether you are a beginner or not, this class will give you the starter skills to ultimately achieve anything your heart desires at personal, career or business life.

Welcome on board, and let’s begin the journey now!


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Meet Your Teacher

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Kariuki Mugo

Director, Coach, Writer


Hello, I'm Kariuki. 

I am a Director of an international not-for-profit organization, where I build and manage high-level partnerships and influence the global water and sanitation community of practice to serve the poor better.

I enjoy spending time with family and friends when I am not hiking in the mountains or walking on lakeshores, sandy beaches and lush green forests.  Moving gets me to relax and replenish my creative energy, which comes in handy in my story writing practice.

I write short stories about my childhood in rural Kenya because everyone’s early life experiences hold a treasure of wisdom. Writing has connected the dots in my past and revealed how that has shaped my life today. It has made me understand that a good and happy life is no... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Kariuki Mugo welcome to my class, upstart your life. An introduction to personal goal setting for beginners. This is the first in a series of three classes designed for complete beginners and for those who practice goal-setting and want to get better. For the last two decades, I have designed and managed projects and programs in rural and urban areas with much success where goals have been part and parcel of my career. But this professional expertise did not turn into a personal practice until five years ago. By then, I had realized that achieving much success at a personal level and in career does not translate to happiness and fulfilment. So I started to reflect and journal regularly and slowly by slowly, I set my vision, I set my values and finally had my goals and that really turn my life around. Today. I teach, I blog, I coach to share my experiences and also to help build a community of high achievers. You know, in life, it is possible to achieve things without setting goals, but we must all know that. Failure to put a structure behind a very strong intention only makes it hard to achieve. It is a fact that goal setting is a practice of high achievers. And this class will somehow set you on the path in one way or another. By the end of this class, you'll gain broad knowledge on how to set goals, particularly what they are, why you should set them, how they work, and what makes them top notch, the skills you'll acquire can easily translate into positive change in business and career. Thank you for being here and let's get started. 2. Understanding Your Priorities: Welcome back. This practical class project takes you through the simple process of understanding the priorities in your life. Often, we assume that we know our priorities and live according to them. But a careful look at how things are can have big surprises. The project uses a wheel of life in an Excel. Worksheet. It is expected that you will clearly see your current priorities and the adjustments that you need to make in your life to head in the right direction. At the end of this class project, the project uses an Excel worksheet provided in the resources section, so please check it out. The first step would be listing your life categories using generic spheres of life priorities of your own. List the ones you think matter to you most in the provided table. The second step is to estimate the time spent, at this point, estimate the percentage of time daily or weekly, that you're spending on each of the categories that you have created that should add up to a 100 percent. Please do not spend too much time on this step to avoid over thinking and changing the data to be what you believe it should be. Step number 3 would be to generate the actual wheel of life. Here your entered data will automatically show you your time allocation and how it generates looks. Think about what it means. Take time to think whether how you're spending time at this point in your life is consistent with what you value most. Step number four, projects the ideal. At this point, estimate the time that you want to spend on each of the priority areas from now into the future, that should also add up to 100%. Step number five is to generate your aspired Wheel of Life, the data you have just entered, will automatically generate how you'll need to allocate your time from now onwards. The next step is, compare the ideal and the actual situation now, that you have generated an aspirational Wheel of Life. We can decode the difference between the real life priorities today and how they need to be given preference for you to achieve your future ambitions. Just see if this surprises you. And please let me know in the comment section, you are not alone if your results came as a surprise. In most cases, it turns out that what we think we do is not exactly what we do. The displayed charts represent actual and aspirational priorities of one of my coaching students, in this case, the student thought that their two top life priorities were family and personal well-being. It turned out that he had almost no time for himself and spent half of his life in the office and not with his family. This exercise brought in new perspectives that enabled him to adjust his life priorities while setting his future goals. The last step is submission. Once you have completed your exercise, please download the worksheet and share with the rest of the class. See you in the next lesson. 3. Defining Goals: Welcome. In this class, I'll be teaching you about how to define goals and explaining what goal-setting means. What is a goal? A goal is a spiritual intention to achieve something in a known future. It is a target meant to direct your life to attain something that has true meaning and leads to a sense of achievement and happiness. A good goal determines what one wants to achieve, how they want to achieve it, and at what point they want to achieve it. What is goal setting? Goal setting is a process of framing, structuring goals. In simpler terms, we all set goals in our lives. For example, we decide the things we want to do in the morning when we wake up. Whether it is at work, business of family, that is how we manage to get things done now and then, however, personal goal setting for future targets is somewhat complex and requires a different skill set. It involves looking ahead and determining what needs to be done and achieved in the future. It also consists of some level of analysis to help you draw the path required to achieve the target that you have set for yourself. It involves breaking down your life into categories and determining what matters most and what does not. In the end, you set priorities, draw a plan, and develop the commitment to see it through. We have now learnt what goals are, at this point let me try and explain what goals are not. First, goals are not resolutions. A resolution is a firm and sweeping decision to do or not do something. While a goal is an objective expression of ambition with a desired target set to be achieved within a defined time window. Resolution is a vague one off decision, while a goal is a more detailed, well thought out statement of intention. Second, goals are not wishes. A wish is a mere desire or longing for something. It lacks a careful assessment of the possibility or not of achieving it. I wish lacks ownership and a reasonable basis for making it. On the other hand, a goal is a careful thought out aspiration with a defined area of achievement, tact and effort. Lastly, goals and not the goal while goals set targets to be achieved. They are not the end unto themselves. Achieving a set goals is not the most meaningful achievement. Instead, the purpose of a goal is to provide meaning and routine for changing your current habits and replacing them with new and more progressive ones, meaning that when we start pursuing a set goal, you begin to form a new life routine. This transforms a much wider area of your life than what is required to meet that goal. Therefore, the benefits of pursuing a goal, are more than just achieving it. It is the process of achieving the goal that is particularly important in bringing the change you desire your life. In the next lesson, we will learn about the importance of goal-setting. See you then. 4. Importance of Goal Setting: Welcome back. There are many reasons why goal-setting is important and what it can enable one to achieve in life. But the best way to illustrate this, is one of the most famous studies in this area. The Harvard MBA study conducted in 1979. During the study, the graduating students were asked a single question on whether they set their goals and whether they had plans to implement them. The findings at the time of the study, were as follows, 84 percent of the class had set no goals at all, while 13 percent of them had set goals, but had no laid out plants. And lastly, 3% of the class had written goals and developed concrete plans for execution. Ten years down the line, a follow-up study revealed the following. This clearly underscores the importance of setting goals and developing execution plans in determining financial outcomes in life. Money aside, we have several reasons why goal-setting needs to be part and parcel of our life improvement plans. First identity. This is about designing life and not living by default. Goals help us determine and pursue whatever defines us and makes us unique. They help us decide what we want to become and align our actions towards that. Number two clarity. This is focusing on what matters most in life. Goal setting helps us to stop looking at life from a broad perspective and instead turn the lens on what is truly important. When we have goals, we pay attention to what brings us happiness in our day to day life, and what builds success in the long run. Number 3, commitment, staying anchored in everyday life. Goals, keep us constantly connected with what we want to achieve. In doing so, we remain committed to pursuing who we are and what we want to achieve by the end of our lives. Number four, freedom, knowing our choices and having the liberty to make them, knowing what to do in life is quite vital. But what is even more important is knowing what not to do and why we should not do it. Goal-setting logically connects reasons to do and not to do certain things. And in so doing, it liberates us from the guilt of making our independent choices that others may not agree with. Number 5, reality, knowing exactly where you are and not where you guess you are. In almost all cases, we underrate or exaggerate our actual life situation. Where we think we are is not usually where we are. We tend to assume things are better than they are. One may think they're physically healthier and fitter until their reality is checked. For example, in a medical examination or starting an exercise regime, the outcome or experience is usually very different from the initial assumption. Goal-setting therefore, brings one down to assessing their actual position and determining where they want to be. Number 6, integrity, admitting to do something, how to do it and when to do it. In everyday life, we hardly keep promises to ourselves or to others. Goals teach us how to walk the talk of our lives on a day-to-day basis to get the results we desire. And this practice becomes our new normal. Number 7, control. Knowing the right buttons to push and when to push them. We all feel that our lives are spinning out of control at some point in our lives. But even so, we can hardly pinpoint the source of the helplessness and how to seize back our personal power. Goal-setting helps us to put our lives in actual perspective and understand how things fit in together. We get better at understanding the power we possess and putting it into good use for our benefit. By so doing, we become fully aware of what and when to dial it when the right time comes. Number 8, contribution, living your life beyond the self. In most times, we hardly think about how our lives impact others and how other people's lives impact ours. True happiness does not come from what we do for ourselves, but rather what we do to make life easier and better for others. On the same breadth, happiness comes by doing things that we find fulfilment in and at the same time enriching other people's lives. In goal-setting, we consider important things to be those that improve our lives and impacts that of others. Number 9, learning constantly reflecting on the meaning and value of our experiences, our current state of life is primarily determined by our ability or inability to learn from our past experiences. One's life can only improve by reflecting on daily experiences and using the lessons learned to make better decisions. Besides, if we can relate why and how things happened in the past with what is happening now, we can most accurately predict what will happen in the future. This pattern recognition is only possible through constant and intentional reflection that enables us to decode the meaning of our experiences. This learning process creates a better understanding of ourselves and our living environment which generates the ability to predict our future and to take the necessary action to make it happen. They say, if you don't know where you're coming from, you most likely don't know where you are and where you're going. And lastly, number ten, growth. Fixing live direction and setting the pace of progress. Goals are about identifying performance areas of our lives that require improvement. Without goals, it is easy to remain where we are because we cannot know where things are and what needs to improve. And neither do we understand how we should improve and how to realistically confirm the improvements that we've made. Now, that we know why we should set goals. Let us now learn how goals work. See you in the next lesson. 5. How Goals Work: Welcome back. I'm going to explain to you how goals work using four basic models. These models show the long-term effects of minor improvements done consistently over time, and that is how goal process works. It is important to note that I have used this illustrations on a positive sense. However, the opposite is true that small negative habits repeatedly done over time, can create enormous effect on one's life. The difference between creating negative and positive habits is that negative behaviors are created around short-term pleasures and instant gratification. And hence, they are very easy to cultivate for all of us. But positive habits require effort and are created through a process of intention, sacrifice, and envisioning future rewards. And that is why we say life is a choice. Enjoy now and suffer later, or make sacrifices now, enjoy much later. Having said this, let's jump right in. The domino effect. This is based on creating a small force that has enormous knock-on effect over time. Pushing a small block at the beginning will eventually generate enough force to topple the largest standing block in the end. That is why in goal-setting, we prioritize what is simple and easy to achieve. That is, we start by selecting the low-hanging fruits. The things that are easy to achieve. Once you successfully do them, we progress to bigger and more challenging things as we go along. The stacking principle, this is premised on building from the ground up. When you start with a simple primary goals, you lay the foundation for layering other things. As you go along. The better you get your basics right, the more things you can layer and the higher you go, meaning that the more you build a stronger foundation for your growth, the more you can achieve. That is why in goal setting, we begin by working on what is authentically foundational and often unseen until we go through a goal setting process. The snowball effect. This effect is about compounding. Every good or bad habit starts with small actions. And every time these actions are repeated, they become easier and eventually solidify into routines. A snowball at the top of a hill usually starts as a pretty small lump, but as it rolls downwards, it gathers more flakes and becomes more immense. This increase in size makes it heavier and gives it momentum to move faster downhill, and gain more matter. In the same way, human habits follow this phenomenon. You start doing something new in a small way without much knowledge on how to do it or with the confidence in how you're doing it. But the more you do it, the better you become at it, and the easier it is to move in that direction. It continues to take less and less effort, and becomes unstoppable along the way. Whenever you pick a positive or negative action, it becomes easier to do over time and you become truly good at it in the end, this morphs into a habit that is usually hard-wired in you and easily integrated with your lifestyle. The 1% rule. And this rule is about movement and direction. If you know where you want to go, you can always navigate your way to that place. That does not mean that your path will be straight and visible. No. You can never see the endpoint at the beginning of a long journey. That means they have to be route markers along the way to help you correct your course whenever you deviate, the same case applies, if you don't know where you're going, you start with a vague idea of your intended destination. Since you have no pointers to tell you when you're losing direction, you begin to make minor deviations that will lead you to a totally different destination with time. And you will not know how much you missed your way until you get to the very end. The 1% rule implies that a vision is a destination. Values are the vessel you travel in and goals are our route markers. Having these three items means you live your life fully knowing where you want it to get to the very end. And without them, life would be a game of chance that most likely will end where we never, ever intended. Whether you have goals or not, there is forward movement and slight deviations. However, the direction of travel slowly distances between the person having goals and the ones who have none. These four models have helped us understand how goals work and that without good goals, nothing much can be achieved in the long run. In the next class will be discussing some of the strategies for setting good goals. See you there. 6. Six Strategies for Good Goals: Welcome back! Goals are essential in achieving remarkable things in all aspects of our lives. However, the fact that we set good goals in our careers and in our business life does not necessarily mean that we are able to set good goals for personal lives. The fact is, as much as personal goals are similar to business or career goals, they're unique in the sense that they require a higher level of emotional connection and self accountability mechanism. That is why it is easier to hit a monthly sales target than to lose a kilo of body weight over the same period of time. In this section, I want to introduce you to six elements of what makes good goals. Let's jump right in. To make good goals. first start from the bigger picture, a good goal originates from a big dream and narrows down to what exactly needs to be done. This may sound simplistic, but the fact is a goal that does not contribute to a long term dream and does not connect and compound with other goals, may never amount to much contribution in the end. A solitary gold lacks meaning, and even when achieved, may not be sustained because there was no long-term change expected, just like any organizational goals. Good personal goals are drawn from a long-term vision and backed by a set of personal values. Once we have these two in place, then we can develop goals depending on personal priorities. The goals can then be broken down into actionable activities. Second, balance your life priorities. Our lives are built in blocks of things that matter. And depending on your vision and values, you have a choice on what area of your life matters most, this varies from one person to another and from one season to another depending on your personal circumstances, the best illustration of essential areas of personal life is using the Wheel of Life. This is a pie chart representing various elements of a person's life. The generic wheel has between 8-12 segments. And again, the choice varies from one individual to another. When experienced in goal-setting, one can independently define their own categories. Good goals ensure that the various needs of a holistically thriving individual are taken care of. And in this way, you remain motivated to pursue the bigger dream to the very end. Next, give goals a good structure. Good goals need a structure to make them a reality. This is made possible by ensuring that your goals are SMART. That means specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This acronym sounds complex, but in real terms, it means the following, first, specific. This requires that we set goals that are clear and not ambiguous. Goals are our route markers. And as such, if they're not clearly visible, we risk losing our course altogether. They must therefore be clearly defined for us to know exactly what we intend to do and achieve. This should respond to the following set of questions. What do I want to achieve? Why is it important? And when will I do it? the next thing is to make your goals measurable. The progress of a goal needs to be measured during the process of taking action and when the execution period has come to an end. To do this, our goal needs to have metrics that can enable it to be measured. This require that you assign measurable units of quantity or other numbers to the goal. The goal therefore, needs to respond to the following questions. How much or how many will I achieve and how will I know that I have achieved it? The next thing is to make your goals achievable. Setting a goal is one thing, but achieving it is another. The ultimate purpose of a goal is to achieve it or get close there. Therefore, crucial that we set goals that make sense when it comes to implementation. And if not, the entire exercise will be a waste of time. We must therefore ensure that we have what it takes to make that goal a reality by asking ourselves, can I accomplish this goal by holding all other factors constant, or do I have what it takes to do it? Be careful. This is not meant to create an opportunity for you to make excuses, but rather it is meant to sharpen your focus. The next thing is to make our goals relevant. As stated earlier, a goal that is not connected to the bigger picture has little meaning to one's life. It should connect to other goals and contribute to overall well-being. Not only serve a short-lived purpose, but should become part of your future lifestyle. You can do that by asking yourself the following questions. Will this goal contribute to my overall life vision? Is it the right time to do it? is it worth my time and effort? And will it improve my life and that of others? The final thing in smart goal setting is making your goals time-bound. A good goal has a definite time window. Without it, there's no commitment to attain it. Therefore, a goal needs a deadline by which you can tell whether you've achieved it or not. Besides, it motivates you to try and beat the time limit depending on the realistic time you need, you could set your timelines. by day, week, month, or even a year. Strategy number 4, break down things. A broad goal with an extended timeline is a recipe for confusion and procrastination. What makes goals easy to achieve is breaking them down to manageable levels, both in milestones and the time required. For example, a broad, ambiguous goal, may read like this, I will become a physically fit person weighing 160 pounds by December 2022. This is a worthy goal to start with, but it is unlikely to be achieved due to its ambiguity, assuming that this goal is set in January 2022 and the goal owner weighs 200 pounds, then it is possible to break it down as follows. First, the target is becoming a physically fit person weighing 160 pounds by December 2022, that is 12 months. Then divide the 40 pounds that need to be lost in a year into quarterly targets. This makes it shedding about 10 pounds every three months. The monthly target then becomes 10 pounds divided by three months, which is roughly 3.3 pounds. But this is still ambiguous. So we need to know precisely what needs to be done weekly so that we can lose 3.3 pounds at the end of the month. To lose 3.3 pounds, you may want to structure your week like this. Walk three miles every Monday and Thursday evening, do 30 minutes of weight training on Tuesday and Friday afternoons and go cycling for five miles every Saturday morning. And then it is important to put in rest So you factor that in for Wednesday and Sunday. Therefore, we have decided what we want to do every day of the week. And with this, we can be able to monitor our daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly outcomes using this detailed type of week planning, this makes it possible to achieve the annual target of becoming fitter and losing 40 pounds. Our strategy number 5 is developing a tracking plan. In principle, you cannot manage what you cannot measure. And research has shown that over 92 percent of the people who do not develop detailed goal tracking frameworks are likely to give up altogether. A plan makes it possible to keep close track of progress by marking things done or undone regularly. This process creates frequent interaction with your goals and forms a strong bond and ownership, owning your goals and seeing your little achievements now and then makes it much more likely to achieve them. This is how a tracking plan from our earlier example of losing 40 pounds in a year may look like. It is possible to regularly tick the boxes and keep close to your progress daily or weekly. One of the things you can do to make this checking process easier is to keep this plan where it is easily accessible, for example, on your fridge door or inside your daily journal. At the end of the month, you can measure your weight compare it with previous months And you can see how you're doing if you find that you have not lost 3.3 pounds at the end of the month, you can easily return to the weekly plan and adjust the fitness targets. Alternatively, you may realize that you need to combine fitness and better eating habits. And in this case, you can make another goal for eating healthier and develop a weekly plan for it too. The final strategy is to handwrite your goals. In these days of computers and software applications, handwriting is a tiresome and unexciting piece of work, writing goals or typing them both serve the purpose of putting aspiration on record. Handwriting is considerably laborious and cumbersome by most people. As a matter of fact, it is not exciting at all, but typing is much easier and more familiar because we are doing it all the time. However, the benefit of handwriting isn't comparable to hard clunking a computer keyboard or thumb tapping a smartphone screen, handwriting triggers and encoding process. Handwriting takes imagery and a lot of cognitive processing, which improves long-term storage in the brain. It also enhances recall ability, meaning that the relationship with your goals is highly enhanced. When you handwrite your goals, you're likely to remember your aspiration and the commitment that comes with it is strengthened. With these two, you have the intellectual and emotional power required to deliver your goals. Research shows that those who write down their goals are 42 percent more likely to achieve them than those who don't. In this class, we have learnt six strategies that are important in making good goals. See you in the next lesson. 7. Final Thoughts: In this class, we have gone through the journey of understanding what goals are, why one should set them, how they work and what makes them first class. We have also practiced prioritization and compared what we think we do and what we actually do. I hope you found this exercise exciting and awakening at the same time. I also hope that you've enjoyed the content of this class and found it truly useful. As we close, always remember the popular saying that if you do not know where you'll be in five years, then you're already there. I hope that the knowledge you have acquired will become a tool to renew life, and set you on a new and highly progressive path. Thank you for your time, your comments, and for sharing with the Skillshare community. Goodbye and good luck all the way.