Author Basil S. Walth once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?” These are words well spoken, because whatever you’re working toward, you will need a roadmap.
“Goals also build self-confidence by helping you grow as an individual”
Goals are indispensable. They provide direction, long-term vision and short-term motivation. They separate the important from the irrelevant. Goals also build self-confidence by helping you grow as an individual. In fact without setting solid goals you are meandering along the path of failure, do you think that Bill Gates achieved his success from simply guessing at what was required on a day to day basis? Or would Richard Branson have got where he is today by leaving things to chance? No I very much doubt it, so why would you want to either?
Olympic athletes, business people, and just about every successful person in the world are goal setters. You aspire to greatness too, don’t you? If you do, and you’re not already setting goals, now is the perfect time to start.
Five Things to Remember When Setting Goals:
1.Write Goals Down
Always jot down your goals-this is powerful. The process of physically seeing your goals helps crystallize them in your mind – often referred to as the “buy in process”, without this they might as well be somebody else’s.
Interesting Fact: A popular Harvard Business School study once found that only 3% of the population records their goals in writing. Another 14% have goals but don’t write them down, whereas 83% do not even have clearly defined goals. More interesting is that this 3% earned an astounding ten times that of the 83% group!
2. Make Goals S.M.A.R.T
The first term stresses the need for a specific goal over and against a more general one. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must tell a team exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important
- What is it you want to achieve?
- What is the benefit for completing the goal?
- Who else will be involved?
- Identify a location.
- Identify requirements and constraints
The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team is making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
The third term stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch a team in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.
- How can the goal be accomplished?
The fourth term stresses the importance of making goals relevant. A relevant goal must represent an objective that the goal-setter is willing and able to work towards. This does not mean the goal cannot be high. A goal is probably relevant if the goal-setter believes that it can be accomplished. If the goal-setter has accomplished anything similar in the past they may have identified a relevant goal.
A relevant goal will usually answer the question:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
The fifth term stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame; giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.
A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
- What can I do 6 months from now?
- What can I do 6 weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
Set attainable short-term goals that can be measured. This means setting quantifiable goals.
Here are some examples:
Commit to writing a certain number of articles each week
Find two new markets each week
Take at least one writing course a year
Attend at least one writer’s conference a year
Make your goals attainable so you won’t get discouraged. The short-term goals above are attainable for me, but they may not be for you. Or maybe for you, my short-term goals aren’t challenging enough.
Goals are very individual. You have to set your own goals…remember, you’re charting your own course to success!
3. Create Deadlines
Without deadlines, your goals are merely dreams. Set deadlines for both short- and long-term goals, and I promise, you’ll get there sooner!
Remember that deadlines can be flexible. Life changes and so do goals. Never be afraid to adjust the time frame for a goal. What’s important is to keep moving forward.
4. Look at your goals everyday!
Visual aids are an effective way to program your brain.
Reading and re-writing goals are two very effective visual aids. By physically rewriting your goals and pasting them in places you regularly frequent, you make them more real in your mind.
I read an article in this month’s Shape magazine that inspired me. The author mentioned that before Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the bestselling book & Oprah Pick Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy (Warner Books, 1995) became a bestselling author, she pasted her name on the #1 spot of the New York Times bestseller list and posted it on her computer. Visual Aids like these give you that extra ammunition that will make a difference.
5. Make Goal Setting a Routine
Begin every morning with a “To Do” list. This will help you organize and better manage your time. Plus, your goals will be right smack under your nose every day. Do not get discouraged over any unfinished items. Simply transfer them to the next morning’s list.
The above said, keep your goals front and forward in your mind. Remember…you only get one chance to live your dreams!
In the words of Cecil B. De Mille: “The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”
As always comments are appreciated and encouraged, cheers.