It is my belief that a person cannot reach his/her full potential without setting and working towards goals (Notice, I did not say attaining or achieving goals!). Some of the greatest thinkers and achievers in history, such as Emerson, Thoreau, DaVinci, Napolean Hill, and Dale Carnegie all stress the importance of goal setting in order to live a happy productive life and achieve one's dreams.
If you haven’t reviewed your goals lately, I encourage you to dust off those dreams and set new goals. Most people know that these goals need to be "SMART". That is, goals that are:
However, making a goal "SMART" is only the first step in making that goal a reality. Here are 10 practical steps to achieving your "SMART" goals:
1. Set a "SMART" goal
Make sure your goal can pass the SMART test. Is your goal clearly articulated (specific)? Can the results of your goal be quantified (measurable)? Does your goal cause you to stretch, grow and get out of your comfort zone but also have a degree of believability (achievable)? Will achieving this goal be valuable to you (rewarding)? Do you have a date by which you will achieve this goal (time-based)?
2. Align your goals with your values
Everyone values different things in life: family, creativity, honesty, spirituality, making a difference, having fun, wealth, etc. Goals that are not aligned with your values are goals that are doomed to failure. Take a moment and write down which values this goal will honor. Ask yourself: “Why do I really want this goal? How will it hinder me spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically if I don't make a change in this area of my life? How much happier would I be if I was making concrete strides towards creating a life I really love? Who will it make me become?"
3. Identify a support structure
What people, things or processes can provide you encouragement? You could find 2 or 3 other friends who are trying to lose weight, and have a weekly support meeting. You could post your business plan on your office wall as a constant reminder to what you're working towards. You could hire a coach! ?
4. Take inventory of what you already have
What people, things and skills do you already have from which to draw upon towards the achievement of your goals? Who do you know that has achieved the goal you desire, or is an expert in the field of your goal? For example, if your goal is to change careers, you may have a friend in the human resources field that can assist you with resume writing or sharpening your interviewing skills. You may have a good book on the topic of your goal or the needed computer skills that will help you excel.
5. Fill the gaps
Once you've taken stock of the people, things and skills you already have to assist you in reaching your goal, identify what is missing. Once you know what you still need, you can put a plan in place to obtain the assistance, resources, or skills needed.
6. Write an action plan
An action plan is just a series of baby steps you will take, in a logical order or flow, towards your goal with a date by when each will be completed. Some of your first steps may be filling the gaps identified in #5. When you break your goal into smaller pieces, it isn't as overwhelming. As the saying goes, "Inch by inch, anything's a cinch!"
7. Identify potential obstacles and ways to mitigate them
What are the things that you know, right now, which could hold you back from reaching your goal? Maybe you spend a lot of time playing computer games when your time would be better spent doing research for your new business; delete the games.
8. Establish a Backup/Alternative Plan
It's always good to have a "Plan B". Your action plan may be well thought out, but not leading you the direction you wanted. Having an alternate plan can make the difference between giving up on your goal and adjusting the sails for a new course towards accomplishment!
9. Determine the mile markers along the way
What are the indicators that will let you know you are on the right path towards attaining your goal? For example, if your goal were to write a book, some of your mile markers would include: Completing the characterizations, composing the story outline and writing the first chapter. Checking off a completed mile marker helps energize you and keep the momentum going.
10. Review & Reward
Did you know that only 5% of people actually write down their goals? If you've at least done that, you're ahead of the 95%. Did you also know that approximately 1% regularly review their goals? Set aside some time each day/week to review your goal, check your progress, and adjust your sails (action plan) for consistent and persistent action.
In order for a goal to be "SMART", it must also be personally rewarding. Little rewards along the way will make achieving your goal that much more fun. Maybe every time you lose 10 pounds you buy a new outfit. Maybe once you get your business plan complete you go to the movies with a friend. We all know what they say about all work and no play; remember to enjoy the journey.
So, what's next? No, not "what are you going to do after you accomplish your goal?" but "what will you do after you read this article?" The journey to achievement starts now, not tomorrow. Will you take the time to implement the above 10 steps for just one of your goals this year? If you will, you'll be on the fast track towards achievement!
By: Victoria Cook
Article By: Victoria Cook