How are you doing with keeping all those New Year’s resolutions you set at the beginning of the year? If you want to accomplish those resolutions you’ve got to understand SMART Goal Setting.
If you are like many of us, you may have forgotten all about them! It’s only natural, and we’re only human.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. ”
~ Lawrence J. Peter
I’m also sharing this key success factor because it’s a vital happiness enhancing strategy that you can take part in. People who are happy engage in the practice of striving toward meaningful goals in their lives.
What is this strategy? Reviewing and Refining Your Goals!
I want to share the specifics of SMART goal setting, along with a two-step process for keeping you on track with your progress toward those goals.
If you’ll engage in these exercises, you’ll keep your ship on course.
“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.”
~ J.C. Penney
Ships at sea can easily wander off course. Winds, currents, and even the every day distractions of taking care of business on the ship can cause the ship captain to lose sight of the main destination. In the same way, unless we are regularly reviewing our goals, we can easily lose sight of our goals and end up working on insignificant tasks, or seemingly urgent tasks that come up, but that don’t lead to our specific goals.
Take time daily, monthly, and each quarter, to review your mission, values, and purpose.
If you need some help figuring out your mission and purpose, I’ve written a couple of articles just for you, titled Have a Personal Mission You Can Be Proud Of!, and A Simple Formula: Find Your Mission Through Your Passion.
If you need some help clarifying your values, read my article What Everyone Ought To Know About True North, for some practical ways that you can set goals in keeping with your most important personal values.
As part of your review, think about the different areas of your life. Are you in the midst of achieving a balance in your success, or are you drifting off course in any areas of your life. You may want to consider using this life wheel worksheet from Mind Tools to help check what areas of your life you want to set extra goals in so that you will be happy with your balance at the end of this year.
Now that you have engaged in some journaling and reflection about where you now stand in terms of your progress toward your goals, you may need to further refine your goals. This is where SMART goal setting comes in. Here are the five criteria that make goals truly effective.
Is your goal specific enough? Think about WHAT you are going to do, and WHY you are going to do it. Both questions are vital to successfully meet your goals. Be careful to look for hidden goals run counter to achieving your important goal.
For example, one of my goals is: Take quiet time daily, practicing deep breathing and prayer/meditation 3x per day.
On the other hand, one of my unwritten rules has been: I will watch my favorite TV show once a day to relax and de-stress. I realized, upon reflection, that a) it’s unrealistic to think that I am going to practice this quiet time 3x per day. On the other hand, I realized that my main focus this year is Steve’s coach, which means that if I don’t take care of myself through prayer and meditation, I will not have as much spiritual/mental/emotional vitality to carry out what I need to. So, when I realize that the WHAT is a bit too much, and that my WHY was not clear enough, I have now refined my goal as follows:
Take quiet time daily, practicing deep breathing and prayer/meditation 1x per day, before watching any Television.
Now that I am now more clear on the WHAT and the WHY, I believe I will be more successful in achieving this outcome.
“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh
If you have a hard time measuring the specific milestones or next actions needed to achieve your goal, it’s unlikely you’re going to accomplish that goal. I’m very grateful to Sterling and Jay from Internet Business Mastery for a couple of concepts in this regard.
First, you can use their success strategy of backward planning to make your goal more measurable.
For example, another one of my goals is as follows: I will run one full marathon, raising money for a worthy cause.
Utilizing the backward planning method, I picture myself finishing the race. Then I ask myself, what happened just before that? Well, I had all the planning down for parking and for the racing equipment I would need in order to successfully run the race. I had successfully raised the $500 dollars I needed to raise for my charity. I had run more than 26.2 miles prior to starting the race. I had trained on hills to strengthen my legs and my mental mindset. These steps all become sub-activities I can then schedule into my calendar.
Attainable and Realistic
These two words actually seem to go together in my mind. If it’s not realistic, is it going to be attainable? I think not! Some of us are guilty of thinking too small. On the other hand, we can think so big that we actually don’t believe we will carry it out it on a sub-conscious level. For example, “I will earn $5 million dollars” is a big goal, but it lacks the specific WHAT, WHY, and action steps for attaining it. And most likely, unless you are going to play the lottery (I don’t encourage it :), and win, you won’t carry out that goal in one year.
On the other hand, if you are careful to follow the steps listed above, you will have a much more attainable and realistic goals. You want goals that will stretch you, but that are realistic and attainable.
This criteria goes hand in hand with setting specific and measurable goals. If you engage in the backward planning activity that I described above, you will have a set of actions for your goals. I urge you to set a date for accomplishing each one of those goals. The date may change, but it will motivate you to take action regularly to carry out your goal.
By writing down this date next to your goal, you can then set timelines for the activities that need to lead up to meeting your goal. Make sure that you are working on one activity every day to help you get closer to your end goal.
Once again, I am going to share a great idea from Sterling and Jay from Internet Business Mastery. Utilize Google Calendar or some other type of online calendar to schedule the different activities that you need to carry out for each of your goals. Set that calendar as your browser default. This is an invaluable strategy! You can also color code your different tasks to correlate with your different goals.
In order to keep this from getting too complicated, you may want to focus on one or two goals at a time. The encouraging part about this method is that you will daily have a reminder of the most important activities to focus on for the day. And you’ll know that your ship is staying on course despite all the cross currents and winds of distraction and hassles of every day living.
Here are Some Helpful Motivational Books for Your Goal Setting Journey:
Life Mission and Purpose
How to Find Your Mission in Life, written by Richard N. Bolles, one of my favorite authors, is a small and inspiring book to help you find your true life mission. He is also the author What Color Is Your Parachute? 2011: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, another personal favorite of mine.
The Path: Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and for Life, written by Laurie Beth Jones, is one of my all-time favorites on this subject as well.
Goal Setting Workbooks:
Make Success Measurable!: A Mindbook-Workbook for Setting Goals and Taking Action, by Douglas Kay Smith.How are you doing with accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions? Are you on track, or have you drifted off course? Please share your thoughts below!
photo credit: elbphoto