“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
Setting goals seems easy enough, right? Think of some things you want to accomplish, then do those things. However there is actually an art to goal setting. The way you go about setting your goals can play a huge role in increasing your chances of being successful. Let’s go over some things that will transform you into an awesome goal setter.
“SMART” is an acronym for a popular goal setting system. This technique is proven to be helpful for both personal and team goal setting. This goal setting system breaks down five criteria for strong goals, they must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. As you go down the list, try to think of some recent goals (or make a new one!) and see if they meet the requirements to be SMART.
Make sure your goal is specific and lists clear objectives. Vague goals are less likely to be achieved. When your goal is specific, it should address the who, what, where, why, and how aspect of the goal.
You need to have a specific criteria for measuring your goal. This aspect answers “how much” and “how many” for your goal. This is a very important factor in being able to know when your goal is accomplished. Instead of making a goal to “read more books” make the goal to “read 1 book a month for a year.” Adding the number of books to read and time constrains clearly defines when the goal will be achieved. Without a set finish line in the distance, you might feel like your are working with no end in sight.
Your goals need to be something that is personally attainable. Now, there is a difference between selling yourself short and avoiding unrealistic goals. If you want to write a book, don’t say “I don’t even know where to start, I probably couldn’t do that,” because thats not true people write books everyday, even people who thought they couldn’t. However, making a goal like, “I want to invent time travel,” isn’t very attainable. I am going to have to say that is a bit unrealistic, but if you think I am totally wrong, have a degree in quantum physics, and are very ambitious, please prove me wrong because time travel is awesome.
When your goal is relevant it answers the question of “is it worth while?” and if it is related to another goal. This aspect of the SMART system is targeted more toward goal setting within teams, however it can still be relevant to personal goal setting. A personal goal is relevant when it is a stepping stone to a larger achievement or your overall life plan. For example, if I made a goal to “sail around the world”, chances are there are other goals I would need to reach to make that happen. I would first need to make a stepping stone goal to “learn to sail,” where learning to sail is relevant in my goal to sail around the world.
Making your goal time-bound, answers the question of “when” and adds a sense of urgency to meet the deadline. For example, a goal to “write in your journal once a day for a year,” has very specific time constrains that make it clear what needs to be done to achieve the goal.
Interestingly, the more specific and challenging a goal is, the more likely it is to be achieved. It also helps to foster an increased sense of effort and persistence. Working toward a goal consistently can even help form habits and make you a more dedicated goal setter.
Be Visible and Accountable
Once you have an awesome set of SMART goals, make sure they are visible and that you are accountable for them. Write your goals down and keep them somewhere where you will see them often. Maybe the refrigerator, bathroom mirror, or your phone’s wallpaper. This acts as a constant reminder and keeps you focused on what you are trying to achieve. Once goals are written down, they are no longer shapeless thoughts. They have become their own entity and look back at you as a challenge.
Next, make yourself accountable. Let people know your goals and don’t be afraid to talk about them. You don’t need to scream them from every social media outlet (though I suppose you could if you wanted), but let those close to you know what you are up to. They will act as a reminder and be someone to check in to see how you are doing while you work toward your goals.
Goals Can Evolve
There is a difference between being dedicated to your goals and feeling bound to your goals. Goals can evolve with you and they are not set in stone. As you work toward your goal, sometimes you realize that you want something slightly different or that there is something making your goal entirely unachievable. If you reach this point, it is okay to adapt your goal to the new circumstances. Just make sure to apply the same dedication to your goal’s new direction.
Goals Are Meant to Be Hard
Remember that goals are meant to be hard, so don’t be discouraged if they are difficult. If for some reason you stumble in the pursuit of your goals, or if you fall short. Don’t let it get you down, because you are closer than you started. The sheer fact that you are trying to improve yourself is admirable and remember that lessons are learned even in failure. Goals aren’t supposed to be easy. If they were, people wouldn’t make goal lists and write blog posts on achieving them.
Believe In Yourself
This is probably the most important. In both goal setting and every other aspect of life, believe in yourself. It seems simple enough, yet some people struggle to have faith that they are capable whatever they put their mind to. One of the deciding factors of people who have reached their goals is simple, they believe in themselves. They are persistent and they choose to not give up.
So if you want to be a super awesome goal setter, make sure your goals are SMART. Ask yourself if they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Once you have your goals, make them visible, spread the word, and be accountable. Don’t get discouraged if your goals are challenging and remember that it is okay to let them evolve. Remember that goals are just stepping stones to bigger and better goals. Your pursuit for personal improvement will never end and thats okay, because the journey is often more rewarding than the destination. Finally, don’t forget to believe in yourself.
I would love any feedback, suggestions, or constructive criticism. So feel free to let me know what you think!