Nuts & Bolts of Smart Goal Setting

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Introduction

I was talking to a friend the other day who is a successful life coach. He was telling me of a situation where he had asked a guy what his goals were. The Guy answered the way you might think, saying I want this and that, I want to retire with this much money and so on. My friend asked what is your plan to achieve these things. The man replied “no plan, I just like to dream.”

It is important that you know that a goal and a dream are drastically different even though they can often seem very similar.

A dream is like a wish, it lives only in your brain. It is something you would like but have no action plan or true desire to do what it will take to acquire your dream. A goal on the other hand could be the same thing as your dream but it resides both in your head and heart, it drives you to do what it takes to acquire it. Your goal is your blueprint, your action plan to acquire your dreams. Your dreams remain wishes without goals and become reality when goal setting is implemented. And then your dreams make a move from your head to your heart.

After my conversation with my friend as I mentioned above, I decided to ask around a little and find out what peoples perceptions of dreams and goals were. After talking to several people, I noticed a few questions and misconceptions that continued that kept popping up. So, I decided to write and article to answer those questions.

This article serves as an introductory to the skill of smart goal setting. It was created to answer some basic questions about goal setting. And to help you start implementing goal setting in your life immediately.

What Is Goal Setting?

Goal setting is an extremely powerful practice that will bring about positive change in your life. It can help you succeed in your health, sports, education, career, business, community activity, causes and relationships. It can help you to improve any area of your life in general in which you choose to implement your goal setting skills.

Mastering these basic but powerful techniques can bring drastic positive change to the quality of life by opening your mind to what you really want out of your balanced life. Positive changes to your health, wealth, relationships, spirituality and much more are closer than you think now that you’ve taken the first steps.

Why Is Goal Setting So Important?

Goals are your plan to success in any situation. Look at them as a blueprint, no great architect or builder would ever break ground on a structure without first having a detailed blueprint for the project. If he did he would surely fail. To finish where you want to be, you must know where that is before you start. Without this simple principle we are stagnant, going through the motions each day because we do not know where we want to go or how to get there. Change today, stop being stagnant or going through the motions without a plan and a destination, and start goal setting.

What Areas Of Life Should I Set Goals In?

Remember, which ever areas of your life you wish to have positive change (big or small) are the areas that you should set goals.

Health – weight loss, diet, etc…

Community – causes, volunteering, leading, etc…

Relationships – parenting, friends, business partners, marriage, etc…

Sports – ability, training, coaching, mentoring, etc…

Education – Studies, degrees, teaching, learning a new field, etc…

Faith – Spirituality

Anything worthy of positive change is worthy of a well defined goal.

I Hear People Talk About Long & Short Term Goals, What’s The Difference?

-Short Term goals – Short term goals are goals that you want to achieve within the next year. These may be individual goals or shorter steps to some mid or long term goals.

-Mid Term Goals – Mid term goals are goals that that you want to achieve in the next 1 to 2 years. Again, these might be individual goals or steps to a long term goal.

-Long Term Goals – Long term goals are goals that you want to achieve in 2 or more years. Long term goals are often broken up into multiple short term goals.

First goals – How big should they be and what should I expect?

Anything new to us can seem challenging and goal setting is no exception. When you first get started it will seem challenging but persevere and the challenges will soon pay off in the form of achieved goals and positive results.

Consider your first few goals a learning experience and start small. Do not set your self up for failure as you are just learning these new skills but by all means challenge yourself. Growth in your personal development comes from overcoming the challenges that may have previously held you back.

How Do I Get Started?

A good way to start is to ask yourself the following 5 questions. These will help your creative side to get involved and you will start to see your goals take form. Keep this part simple as it is an exercise to get your mind on track.

What is my goal?

When will I achieve my gaol by?

How will achieving my goal better my life?

What is the first step in achieving my goal?

How will I know when I’ve reached my goal?

Example:

What is my goal? My goal is to lose 10 LBS.

When will I achieve my goal by? August 20th, 2009 (total time 4 months)

How will achieving my goal better my life? I will feel better and be healthier

What is the first step in achieving my goal? Eat healthy and begin an exercise routine

How will I know when I’ve reached my goal? I will weigh 190 LBS.

Lets take a quick look at this example.

What area of life is the goal in? Health, fitness or sport.

Is it realistic? Yes, if it was to lose 75 LBS in one month that would be setting up for failure.

Will this persons life be better? Yes, they will feel better and be healthier which leads to a lot of other positive things like self esteem and more.

Does it have a plan? Yes, diet and exercise.

Does it have an end result? Yes, 190 LBS.

Now, as you get further into using your goal setting skills, there will be a lot more detail in your goal. This is just an exercise to get your mind going. When you are answering these questions, write your answers down.

What Is The SMART Method Of Goal Setting?

A lot of successful coaches teach goal setting using the SMART method. I am no exception. The SMART method is a great tool for goal setting.

S – Specific

M- Measurable

A- Action Focused

R- Realistic

T- Time Limited

The SMART method is only one way of setting goals. However, evidence shows that goals are more often achieved when written down with specific detail, have detailed actions for achieving, are realistic but challenging and have a deadline. That said, the SMART method falls right into play.

Following this type of goal setting will instantly begin to help other areas of self improvement like time management. We will get more into those topics in future articles and lessons.

Do You Have Any Other Tips For Me?

Start a goal journal. A goal journal is something tangible that your mind can relate with. Read from your journal several time a day. At least once in the morning and again before bedtime. Track your progress and mark off goals as you achieve them. Make changes to dates and details as needed. We will get into goal journaling in detail in another lesson.

Use index cards and carry your goals with you in your wallet, purse, briefcase, etc… This will serve as a constant reminder of why you are working, studying, exercising, eating a certain way or what ever it may be. This is just a way to keep you on track. The use of index cards is a great tip but I still suggest the more detailed journal along with this.

Stay positive, read positive books, engage in positive conversation, get assistance with your goals if needed. Don’t let discouragement, fear, negative surroundings, people or obstacles stand in the way of what you really want. Persevere, learn to overcome your fears and obstacles, there are a lot of resources out there to teach and assist you in this area.

Use goal setting as often as you can. Small goals with minor details to large goals with great detail.

Write goals for several areas of your life. Don’t limit yourself, you are great and can achieve anything you set out to do. Get started now, go and put these ideas into practice. Begin now, go do it like its already a habit. Set out to be the best you can be.

GO!!!