“The most important thing about goals is…having one.” –Geoffrey F. Abert
I am a HUGE believer in goal setting. I am also a huge proponent of setting goals using a method that works. Stating a goal is only the beginning. We usually set a goal to help us obtain something that will require us to stretch ourselves in some way and work outside of our comfort zone. So, going about the whole process in the right way will more likely ensure success.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This is where the method comes in to play. Setting SMART goals (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) that are ABC (Achievable, Believable, and Conceivable) using the SORT steps makes achieving your goal much more realistic. And, yes, that’s a bunch of acronyms!
“Believing is a fine thing, but placing those beliefs into execution is a test of strength.” –Kahlil Gibran
I believe people often miss some really crucial steps to goal setting and find themselves abandoning their goals because they just did not have the necessary knowledge to get where they wanted to go successfully. So, here is a run-down of those steps that just don’t need to be skipped:
When you set a goal, state it in the positive (“I will. . .) and make darn sure you can VISUALIZE SUCCESS! This ensures that you have chosen an ACHIEVABLE goal. Make sure your goal is SPECIFIC. (“I will exercise 4 days a week for 60 minutes” instead of “I will start exercising regularly.”)
Your goal should be one that can be MEASURED. (“I will drink 8 glasses of water 5 days a week.” Measurable goal. “I will drink more water.” NOT really a measurable goal.)
It sounds obvious, but make sure you choose a goal that is RELEVANT to where you are in life and to what will move you ahead to where you want to go.
Now, don’t even think about doing this on your own! Who is your SUPPORT SYSTEM? Name three people or groups that will help you get where you want to go. (Please don’t leave out this step!)
Okay, this is the biggy. . .Develop an ACTION PLAN using “SORT”:
STEPS. Write out the steps needed to meet your goal.
OBSTACLES. Write down the obstacles that will most likely sabotage your goal and then write down a plan to keep that from happening. (i.e. Goal is to not eat after dinner. The obstacle is staying up late and getting hungry. Plan is to go to bed before the typical time of hunger strikes).
RESOURCES. Write out everything you are going to need to meet your goal.
TIMELINE. Make a realistic timeline for meeting your goal. (i.e. Goal: Exercising for an hour 4 days a week. Timeline: 4 weeks to get into a regular routine.) This also makes your goal TIME-BOUND so it’s not just “out there” with no end in sight.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” –Napoleon Hill
But, there’s still more because sometimes even going through all the above is not enough. Sometimes life gets in the way or throws us a curveball and we find ourselves not being able to stay on that timeline. So, do we just abandon our goal because of this? No way!
“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal.” -anonymous
Instead, we MONITOR our goal work from the beginning and, every so often, we pause and reflect on our progress (I like every 2 weeks as a time to do this). How do we monitor? Well, it just depends on the goal but using a calendar, journal, or progress chart are a few ways to monitor. As we monitor, we REFLECT and we ADJUST our goal as needed. (i.e. “My goal is to run 35 miles a week, but the last two weeks I have only run 20 miles each week. I think I need to adjust my goal and make it more realistic. My goal is now to run 20-25 miles a week for the next 3 weeks.” After 3 weeks of monitoring this goal which is much more doable, I can reflect and adjust again as needed. Maybe after 3 weeks, I will be able to add mileage to my goal and, eventually, get to the goal of 35 miles a week—just a bit slower than I first thought possible.) All along the way, we want to be EVALUATING, ASSESSING, AND AFFIRMING our progress. We want to constantly being asking: What is working? What is not working? And, we want to be self-assessing:
A=Absolutely accomplished, B=Best possible, C=Could have been better, D=Distracted, F=Forgot all about it
If we do all these things along the way, we are setting ourselves up for guaranteed success! Guess what? That calls for CELEBRATION! So, from the get-go, plan to be successful! Plan how you will celebrate your successful goal accomplishment (i.e. a new workout outfit for working out consistently 4 days a week for a month). That is the fun part, and it gives you something for which to look forward when the hard work is over!
So, when you have met your goal, what then? Well, it’s time to start the process over. Set a new goal. Keep the process going so that you always have a goal ahead that keeps you moving forward!
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” –Nelson Mandela
I’ve created a worksheet to help you think through your personal goals. Click on the image below to download the PDF and get started!