Goals, resolutions, call them what you will. Do you have high aspirations? Do you establish goals for yourself, but never seem to reach them? How much better would your life be if you DID master your goals? How would that change feel to you? Can you smell it, taste it, touch it? Does it make enough of a difference to be worth the effort? The first step to establishing gluey goals is to set goals that really, truly, matter to YOU. Not your friends, family, or boss, but YOU. A goal that matters to you will be based on your unique values. For more on this step, see The Winning Why.
So, take some time and relax. Get in touch with what is really important to you. This blog might be all about the Benjamins, but your life is not. In order to make change that matters, your goals must relate to the things that really matter to you.
Once you’ve examined your values and set an initial goal, express in a way that helps guarantee your success. You want your goal to be SMART. What does this mean? Here’s how I see it.
S-Your goal should be a stretch for your to achieve. What is the point of setting goals if they don’t move you beyond your current situation? Imagine that I am sitting in my nice leather love seat at home. Sure, I can make sitting in my love seat a goal. It will be easy to check off my to do list, but it won’t change much in my life. A more exciting goal for me would be to take a trip around the world. Just typing that gets me excited! It is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h for me to dream of doing that financially, but if I work hard at my goal it should be a realistic stretch.
M-Your goal should be specific enough to be measurable. If I want to save enough to go around the world, I should know how much money I will need. That allows me to break down the goal into smaller chunks and to set benchmarks to measure my progress.
A-Your goal should be achievable. To have sticking power, your goal must be within the realm of possibility as you see it. If you don’t feel in your heart that you can reach your goal, it will be very hard to keep going. This doesn’t mean that you need to listen to all the naysayers in your life, though. Know your own heart and listen to that.
R-Some people say that the R stands for realistic. I don’t agree! Keeping your goals “realistic” can be an excuse for failing to strive for the things your heart really desires. I prefer to think of a SMART goal as ravenous! Because the goal is aligned with your truest values and because you can see its achievement in your heart, you become consumed with the goal. You are on the alert for opportunities to move closer to your goal. You have a driving desire for attainment that overcomes the natural tendency to prefer immediate gratification over future success. You are a powerhouse when you are this motivated!
T-Your goal should be time bound. This means you set yourself a deadline. Without the reinforcement of a deadline, achievement gets delayed until tomorrow. Then tomorrow becomes today and once again we delay. The deadline, used with benchmarks, keeps us honest.
It may be necessary to adjust our goals as time goes on. But if we have a clear vision of where we are going and take the time to review our progress against clear benchmarks along the way, we will keep moving in the right direction.
What tips do you have to help people reach their goals? Do you have a personal story of achievement you would like to share? Please let me know in the comments below.