“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen Covey
Goal setting has been defined as ‘identifying something that you want to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and timeframes’.
Before setting any goals, you need to be clear on two things:
- what you want, and
- how much you want it.
If you do not want it enough, then you are setting yourself up for failure.
According to John Assaraf:
“If you’re interested, you’ll do what’s convenient. If you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.”
I therefore recommend that you link your goals to your values, to what is important to you. You must WANT to reach the goal. A goal with anything less than focused desired is not really a goal at all; it is a fantasy.
We tend to think of goals relating to our career or business only, but goals can relate to many aspects of our life.
Here are a few questions to stimulate your goal setting process:
- Financial– How much do you want to earn this year? In five years’ time? How much do you want to invest? Is residual income a goal? When would you like to retire?
- Physical– Are there any fitness goals that you want to achieve? Do you want to increase your strength or lose a certain amount of weight? What steps will help you achieve this?
- Education– Is there any field of study that you would like to increase your knowledge in? Is there an academic level you would like to achieve?
- Family– Do you want to have children? What would you like your family to look like? What kind of parent will you be?
- Attitude– Do you want to improve your mindset? What can you do achieve this? How will you measure it?
When setting goals, it is wise to consider the key component parts which will aid success.
SMART is an acronym that can help you. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
Addressing each in turn, the goal should be
Specific, in other words, clear and unambiguous.
Measurable, so you can monitor your progress and stay on track.
Attainable, meaning achievable and within reach.
Relevant, paying attention to all the circumstances.
Time-based, giving the achievement of the goal a deadline.
The absence of any of these factors can prove fatal to any ambitions. If a goal is not SMART, there is likely to be confusion, frustration, and resentment, which will lead to the subject quitting and the goal being abandoned.
Once you have established your goals, the next step is to create a plan. This should include actionable steps which move you towards your desired result.
Having small achievable milestones in the plan will help you map your progress and keep you focused.
So, enumerate the tasks that you need to accomplish and list any support that you might need along the way.
To consolidate your goal plan and keep you on track, consider also adopting the following strategies:
Share your goals with others. Your family and friends are mostly likely to be your biggest champions. Share your dreams and vision with them and let them hold you accountable.
Advertise your goals. Write your goals down and post them in obvious places for you to see several times a day. Use motivational quotes and affirmations keep you focused.
Remove blocks. What is standing in your way? Eliminate anything that is not serving you well. Ignore naysayers. Commit to doing whatever it takes.
Measure your progress regularly. Reviewing where you are and how far you have come with motivate you further, so have a measurement and tracking process.
Celebrate occasionally. Reward yourself when you achieve even a minor goal. If there is still work to do, press on, do not dwell on how much further there is to go. Celebrate and move on to the next milestone.
As time moves on, you might notice your desired goal is not so attractive or appealing any more. If this happens, it is time to review the goal and reset. Do not be concerned about doing this occasionally; give yourself permission to change the goal if it no longer inspires you.
“The great secret about goals and visions is not the future they describe but the change in the present they engender.” - David Allen.
If you are not yet sold on the idea of goal setting, here is a list of the potential benefits the process brings.
- Focus your energy
- Provide a measure of your progress
- Inspire you
- Strengthen your will and commitment
- Motivate you
- Give you reasons to celebrate
- Allow forward-thinking – present and future, not past
As David Allen says, it is the change in the present that the goals engender which is the true gift. When you strive for improvement, YOU are immediately improving, developing, learning, and growing.