“A good goal is like a strenuous exercise … it makes you stretch”. Where would you like to be in 6, 9 or 12 months from now? Are you happy with the direction your career is headed in? What is the number one item on your bucket list that you’d like to accomplish this year? Life is a planned event. Wishing and hoping won’t make it so. You need to put a plan together to accomplish your goals. Think of your plan as a road map. There may be some roadblocks, detours and highways under construction, but if you don’t lose sight of where you want to end up, eventually you will get there.
Here are some basic guidelines on setting goals. Remember to always start with the end in mind and walk your plan backwards to the here and now. Think of it as setting SMART Targets.
S – Specific: You’ve got to name it to claim it. Write down what you want to achieve. Don’t generalize. A well written goal needs to be specific. (You need to have a Dr. Phil moment and be very clear on what it is you want to accomplish) How much weight do you want to lose? How much money do you want to save? What skill or skills do you need to learn to a get that promotion?
M – Measurable: You’ve got to be able to measure your progress to know if you are going in the right direction. Break long-term goals down into small bite size pieces. Do step one – then step two – then step three – etc. What results do you expect to see in a day, week or month? If you can’t measure it – don’t do it. If you can’t measure it how do you know you have the right plan?
A – Attainable: Don’t set yourself up for failure. You have to be honest with yourself. You have to be 100% convinced that what ever you set out to do is doable. If not – you’re beat before you start.
R – Realistic: To lose 20 pounds in a week might not be healthy or realistic. To loose one pound in a week may be more in line. Why commit to completing a task in 20 minutes if you think it might take 40?
T – Time-Based: An expected date of completion is a great motivator. It helps create a sense of urgency. However, don’t sell yourself too short. Add in some time to compensate for those roadblocks, detours, and highways under construction that you may bump into along the way. (A good rule of thumb suggests that however long you think it’s going to take for you accomplish your goal – times that by two.)
Be sure to commit your plan to writing. It will give you something to refer back to as you monitor your progress. Keep in mind that there are no perfect plans. You may have to adjust your plan if you see that it won’t accomplish what you set out to do. By committing it to writing you are giving it the same status that you’d give any contractual agreement. You are making a personal commitment with yourself. Remember – Success in life or for that matter success in any undertaking is a matter of staying focused. Have a plan – and work your plan. You’ll be amazed by how much you can accomplish.