Where the hell has 2014 gone? Scarily a quarter of the year has gone by already, and if you’re like me, you may be thinking that now is a good time to reassess your goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Even if you didn’t set specific goals exactly, maybe you had a few New Year resolutions that you toyed with the idea of accomplishing as you began the first day of the New Year… Loose a few kilos, further your education, look for ways to earn an additional income, spend more quality time with your family. Whatever your good intentions were, how are you going so far? Have you even made a start towards achieving them, or are these goals now long forgotten?
Do you even have any goals written down? Many of us are familiar with setting performance objectives with related KPI’s as a yearly task undertaken during our employment. Motivated by our employer’s promise of receiving a bonus if we achieve our objectives, we are usually all proactive at formulating our work related goals. But what about your personal goals? How many of you spend the same amount of time that you would on your employment objectives, thinking about and then formally setting your own personal objectives?
If you are guilty of neglecting to set your own personal goals, how about we make ourselves a priority and make a start together. After all YOU are “Number One”. Don’t you owe it to yourself to put yourself first and devote some of your valuable time to your own personal development?
You have the ability to write your own life story. Pretty exciting eh? Let’s do it!…
It is easier to set your goals on a number of levels:
First, create your “grand dream goals”. This is where you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life (over say the next 5, 10 years), and identify the grand dream lifetime goals that you want to achieve. These goals need to be on a grand scale, so don’t be shy, think BIG. As an example, one of my grand dream goals is to own a large villa in Italy (complete with winery, since I’m rather partial to a glass of red) where we can host our family and friends and enjoy “la dolce vita”.
These are then broken down into the smaller, more manageable targets that you need to achieve in order to reach your lifetime goals. Finally, once you have your overall plan, you can start working on it to ultimately achieve your grand dream goals.
We start the process by using the “top down” approach. We should firstly look at what our grand dream goals are, then we start to work our way down to what we could possibly achieve in the next 10 years, 5 years, one year, next month, next week, so we can start moving towards them.
Tip: Breaking down your yearly goals into 90 day cycles of achievement can be very effective.
For example, if your goal is to be able to lose 5 kgs in weight, do not focus on this overall goal. Break it down into bite sized chunks (no pun intended ) and aim to lose 416 grams a week for the next 12 weeks. This will be a lot easier to manage and will increase your chances of success massively.
Re-evaluate your current goal after the 90 days (12 weeks) has expired.
As another example, if your goal was to “earn an additional income of $500+ per week”, you would need to initially start by making a plan…
Additional Income Plan:
- Set a target – how much extra do you want to earn per week?
- Research various income generating ideas
- How much time can you devote each week to achieving your 2nd income?
- Would you prefer to earn this additional income working from home for yourself, or working for someone else at their premises?
- Do you require any additional skills or mentorship to assist you?
- If you really intend to succeed tell EVERYONE
- Set long term goals, ie. “I will replace my full-time income”
- Then set shorter term achievable goals “I will earn at least $100 per week additional income”
- Once this initial goals has been achieved, step it up to the next level, “I will earn at least $200 per week” etc
- Reward yourself when these milestones have been achieved
Step 1: Setting Your Grand Dream Goals
“As long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big”- Donald Trump
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.
To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):
- Career & Business – What level do you want to reach in your career, or what do you want to achieve?
- Do you want to start your own business? If so what type and how?
- Financial – How much do you want to earn, by what stage? How is this related to your career goals?
- Education – Is there any knowledge you need to acquire in particular? What information, skills or mentorship will you need to have in order to achieve other goals?
- Family – Do you want to be a parent? If so, how are you going to be a good parent? How do you want to be seen by a partner or by members of your extended family?
- Artistic – Do you want to achieve any artistic goals?
- Attitude – Is any part of your mindset holding you back?
- Is there any part of the way that you behave that upsets you? (If so, set a goal to improve your behaviour or find a solution to the problem.)
- Physical – Are there any athletic goals that you want to achieve, or do you simply want good health well into old age? What steps are you going to take to achieve this?
- Pleasure – How do you want to enjoy your spare time? Do you want to travel? Would you like to pursue a new recreational activity ie. Learn to play golf? (You should ensure that some of your life is for you!)
Spend some time brainstorming these ideas, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Next, you should consider trimming this again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.
As you go through this process, ensure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve. These should not be goals that your parents, family, or employers might want. Taking into consideration what your partner also wants is a good idea – however, make sure that you still remain true to yourself!
Productivity studies show that most people can’t focus on more than 5-7 items at any one time. Therefore, don’t try to take on too many things with a long list of objectives. Focus on a handful of objectives – the ones you care about most – and the ones that you can almost repeat from memory.
Step 2: Setting Smaller Goals
Once you have set your grand dream goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.
Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach in order to achieve your grand dream goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan. Then create a daily To-Do List of things that you should do today to work ultimately towards your grand dream goals.
Early on, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. You may also want to undertake courses, or find a mentor who can help direct you along your chosen pathway. Finally, review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life. Remember that you are ultimately the one writing your own life story, so write it well!
Staying on Course
Once you’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily or weekly basis. Have you achieved this week’s goals? If not, why not, and what do you need to do to get back on track?
Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience.
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants, SMART usually stands for:
S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model. WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organise, co-ordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc. WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish? HOW are you going to do it? (By…?)
Ensure the goals you set are very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to “lose weight” or “be healthier”, set a specific goal to “lose 2cm off your waistline” or to “walk 5 km at an aerobically challenging pace”.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, then it is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read all the books in Lisa’s library before the end of the year” shows the specific target to be measured. “I want to read more” is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it’s too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.
A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 5 kgs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable. But setting a goal to loose 500 grams and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 500 grams, will keep it achievable for you.
As you achieve a goal, then reward yourself with something special. Reward each small achievement. If it’s a big goal then when you are in the planning stage set the rewards also. “Once I achieve $1,000 sales a week I will take the family to Disneyland,” tell the family fi
rst, you now have created yourself a fan club AND someone to motivate you if things go astray. The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.
This is not a synonym for easy. Realistic, in this case, means “do-able”. It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organisation. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.
Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating lollies, cakes, chips and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.
For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set yourself up for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Set a time-frame for the goal: for next week, in three months, by the end of school. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.
Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART.
Goal Setting Tips
The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:
- State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively “Execute this technique well” is a much better goal than “Don’t make this stupid mistake.”
- Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
- Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
- Write goals down – This crystallises them and gives them more force. It also helps if you fail to remember things like I do!
- Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you’re working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
- Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control! In business, these reasons could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, they could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck.
- If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
- Set realistic goals – It’s important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (for example, employers, parents, media, or society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions.
- It’s also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.
- When you’ve achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you’ve made towards other goals.
- If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve.
- With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:
- If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder.
- If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier.
- If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.
- If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.
- Failing to meet goals does not matter much, just as long as you learn from the experience.
- Feed lessons learned back into your goal setting. Remember too that your goals will change as time goes on. Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience, and if goals do not hold any attraction any longer, consider letting them go.
You now have a choice…
- “This seems like a good idea but I don’t need it / I will do it tomorrow”
- “Too freaky, not for me”
- “Makes sense, I will give it a try.”
If you choose options 1 or 2 then I have lost you already.
If you choose option 3, don’t wait, do it now. By waiting, you run the risk of forgetting to do this at all and will potentially continue to drift along through life. Don’t let life dictate what it has planned for you. You dictate your own life story. Some advice from Richard Branson, which is also the title to his very inspirational autobiography…
SCREW IT, LET’S DO IT!
If you do not like where you currently are or want to improve your prospects then give it a try, you have nothing to lose and plenty to gain!
I would love to hear what some of your goals are and how you are progressing. If you feel like sharing them, please do so by commenting below…
Here’s to creating your own life story!
Screw it, let’s do it!