How often do we hear someone tell us, “you need to set goals”, or “the only way to achieve what you need to achieve in life is if you have clearly defined goals”. It seems that every executive workshop or team-building workshop focuses to the point of absurdity on goals and goal setting. There may very well be a reason for the madness.
Without goals, how do you a) know where you are currently, and b) know where you want to be in six months, a year, five years etc? If you’re among the very few, you stroll through life moving ahead at a speed that is relatively admirable and experience a sweet amount of success… and you don’t seem to have to put forth much effort. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have that luxury. Most of us either need to write out our goals, or wallow in mediocrity.
Why do we need to write our goals?
When we write our goals, our subconscious mind is poked. It’s told to pay attention, something is important. While running the risk of sounding “new age-y”, our desires are sent out to be worked on while we may not consciously be working on them. When we take the extra time to write the goal down, we’re telling our mind that what we’ve written is very important to us, and it allows us to keep score in a way.
Should goals only be written for business? Sure… if business is the only part of your life that you want to attain more in. If you desire a happier home life, a more fulfilling spiritual life, a more padded checking account, a more svelte physique… you get the idea… then you absolutely should be writing goals.
Write goals for anything and everything that is important in your life:
- Career: Where do you want to be and when? How much money do you want to make annually? What kind of benefits do you desire?
- Do you dream of attaining a higher degree of formal education? When can you get it done? What will it cost? What school do you want to attend?
- Are you happy with your physical health/ physique? What do you need to do to attain what you desire? Granted, most of us will never look like Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt, but we can feel better about what we’ve been given.
- What would make you happier within your family? Do you want children? Do you want your children to attend college? What do you need to do to help in the process?
- What do you do to make yourself feel better about YOU? Do you want to volunteer? Do you want to take art classes?
Ok… so you get the point. We need to write goals… apparently for EVERYTHING in our lives. Don’t get too riled up… choose what is most important to you. Where do you need to focus your energies right now until you create the habit of setting goals? It’s not realistic to attack everything head on with fervor… you’ll get frustrated and give up. Nothing is achieved that way. Pinpoint one aspect you need to focus on. Once you form the habits of writing goals for, say, your career, write the goals for your physical health. Goal setting can be a chore, but if it is, you’re not as likely to keep at it. Make it into more of a game… and fun. Make it something that can be measured which brings me to the meat of goal setting… you got it… SMART.
Anyone that has ever sat through a training seminar for goal setting, or knows someone that has sat through a seminar knows the acronym SMART. If you don’t know it, you’ve either been very fortunate or have seriously missed out, depending upon how you look at it. For everyone that has experience with SMART, this is a review. The newbies… prepare to be AMAZED!
S: SPECIFIC. Set very specific goals. i.e. I will attain my MBA by 7/1/2012. I will learn to dance the Rumba by 1/5/2011 etc. Don’t leave room for not attaining… be SPECIFIC.
M: MEASURABLE: similar to specific, but the goal has to be measurable. I will lose GOBS of weight by 1/1/2011 just won’t cut it. I will lose 15 lbs by 1/1/2011 is MUCH better. The goal has to be MEASURABLE.
A: ATTAINABLE: Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you can never become an Olympic caliper athlete, don’t set yourself up for failure. If you want to be able to walk the mini marathon in May, and right now, you can walk a mile and a half, sure it may be tough, but your goal is ATTAINABLE.
R: RELEVANT: Make sure your goals make sense and are relevant to the big picture. Having a goal of reducing sick time by employees by 5%, may not be relevant if you already enjoy a 98% attendance rate. Time will be better spent on other things. Keep things RELEVANT.
T: TIME SENSITIVE: Put a deadline on your goals. “I will lose 15 pounds.” That’s great, but WHEN will you lose it? If you have no time frame, you have no motivation. We only have so many years in our lives… everything is TIME SENSITIVE.
In all honesty, goals aren’t going to bury or carry you if you choose not to set them, but find one athlete, or executive that doesn’t set goals that are SMART. You’ll be hard pressed to find one. There is a reason goals are set by top performers. Try setting goals for yourself for a week, and then a month… honest goals. Follow up and monitor them to see what a difference they can make in your life. You’ll understand why they are so vital.
Remember to Spend Some Quality Time on You!