“What Keeps Me Going is Goals”
– Muhammad Ali
If you’re a human being, then you have dreams and goals.
In fact, there are probably a ton of things, big and small, that you’d love to accomplish.
You know what? That’s awesome!
Whether you’re trying to become a ballerina or lose a couple extra pounds, goals are great – they help keep us focused and push us to be better.
BUT having goals is one thing; achieving them is quite another.
Goal setting is probably one of the hardest things you have to do. Sometimes it just feels like a guessing game when it comes to picking the right goals. Or you’re throwing darts at a dartboard.
The reason why achieving goals is difficult is because of how we’re constantly setting goals ALL WRONG! (I know because I’ve made this error many times myself.)
If you’re able to avoid this mistake, you’ll start to PUNCH OUT your goals!
Do these sound like goals you’d set?
“I’m going to lose weight.”
“I’m going to eat better.”
Be honest now…let’s see a raise of hands
(Raising my hand)
…Yeah, I’ve been there. I’ve come up with goals like these. The intentions behind these goals are great, but the goals themselves are terrible. Just TERRIBLE!
Look at those goals again. Why do you think they’re bad?
Coz they’re vague.
There’s no way to measure them the way they are written. There’s no benchmarks, no milestones, no deadline. They’re impossible to complete.
What’s the finish line? Even if you got there, you wouldn’t even know it.
Goals are totally useless if they're not grounded in reality. Click To Tweet
In other words, abstract goals are unrealistic.
With any goal, you need to be able to measure whether or not you’re succeeding. The mistake most people make is that they don’t really know HOW.
They set poor goals (just like the ones above). Well, today’s the end of terrible goals! But to do that, you have to…
BE SMART, NOT DUMB
Setting better goals is going to be hard, right? Nope. In fact it can be pretty easy. You just have to be smart about it.
Opps…I mean, S.M.A.R.T. about it.
Wait…what does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?
- Specific – define and identify exactly what you want to accomplish
- Measurable – you want to know absolutely, positively whether or not you hit the goal, so you need to quantify the goal.
- Attainable – define a goal that is within your ability
- Relevant – a good goal should stretch you, but it has to be within your ability
- Time-based – set a date for you to achieve your goal.
SMART goal setting makes your goals and objectives trackable. Instead of vague goals like the ones above, you’ll have goals with clear milestones and, more importantly, goals that are attainable.
The beauty of SMART method? You can apply it to any goal! This goal, that goal, ALL goals!
Let’s look at the 5 things that make up a SMART goal in more detail.
What exactly do you want to achieve?
Your goals should be straightforward and should be all about what you want to happen.
You want your goals to be clear and easy. Making them specific helps you do that. It also helps focus your efforts and clearly defines what you’re going to do.
Think of “specific” as the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.
- WHAT are you going to do?
- WHY is this important?
- HOW are you going to get it done?
Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 5 lbs or to walk 10 minutes a day. The more specific you can get with your goal, the better your chance of achieving it.
So now you have a specific goal, but how will you know when you’ve reach your goal? Or if you’re even on the right track?
If you can’t measure your goal, you can’t manage it. (Plain and simple.)
Use your senses when you come up with measurable goals. What will you see, hear, and feel when you reach your goal?
Again – be specific!
“I want to lose weight” – not measurable.
“I want to lose 5 lbs over the next 30 days.” – measurable.
Once you have a specific goal, you need to make sure it has measurable progress, so you can track the change over time. When you measure your progress, you’re more likely to stay on track, to hit your target dates, and experience the joy of reaching your goals.
We’re not talking easy here. We’re talking “do-able”.
Can you make your goal happen?
“I want to marry Marilyn Monroe before January of next year” is both specific and measurable…but not really feasible, is it? (Unless you somehow invent a time machine.)
If you set goals that too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to them. (Or achieve them.)
There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the stars. A goal should stretch you slightly to get you out of your comfort zone, but they have to be attainable.
The feeling of success of attainable goals helps you stay motivated. You develop the swagger and confidence that you can actually reach your goals.
Is your goal attainable?
For example, if your goal is to lose 20 lbs in 1 day…that’s neither achievable nor is it a healthy goal. But if you set a goal to lose 1 lb in 1 day, you’ll be more likely to achieve that, and this accomplishment will keep it motivated to achieve even more.
Think about the sheer effort, time, and resources your goal will take and be honest with yourself. If you don’t have the time, money or talent to reach a certain goal you’ll certainly fail and be miserable. As we recommended previously, try to take your goals and figure out what 10% of the effort is, and make that your goal.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew!
So now, you have an attainable goal, but is it a relevant goal?
In other words, does this goal REALLY matter to you?
The answer better be YEAH and you better have a good reason! Your goal needs to align with where you want to go and who you want to become.
Achieving goals require time, effort, and commitment. You don’t want to be one of those people who set goals that look good on paper, but you have no real motivation to achieve it. Does your goal just sound good, or is this something that will still be important to you a month from now?
For example, you can have a goal of being fluent in Swahili, but how is that relevant to your life and your goals? If it is, then great – go for it. If not, you may want to find a different goal and not waste your time.
- Why is this goal important to me?
- What are the benefits and rewards of this goal?
- Why will I be able to stay committed in the long-run?
Your goals don’t all have to be life-changing. They just need to mean something to you.
The last step is to set a timeframe for your goal.
What’s your target date for achieving your goal? If you don’t set a time, then you’ll just come up with excuses or not prioritize your goal.You’ll feel like you can start your goal at any time – there’s no urgency. Setting a time sets a commitment.
You need a target to work towards, but it has to be attainable and realistic. Going from the couch to a marathon tomorrow is probably not the best timeframe.
By setting a realistic timeline, you’ll feel urgency, but will avoid feeling overwhelmed. Especially since we know life likes to throw surprises at us every now and then to keep us on our toes.
In addition to having a deadline, try to come up with some flexible goals for shorter timeframes like next week, a month from now, 3 months from, etc. These will give you checkpoints to see how you’re progressing towards your goal.
Your time is money! Set a deadline for yourself to make sure you’re Action Jackson with your goal!
Let’s Try Some SMART Goal Setting
With the SMART checklist, you can evaluate your objectives. SMART goal setting also creates transparency throughout the company. It clarifies the way goals came into existence, and the criteria their realization will conform to.
Let’s look at a couple of examples using the vague goals above. By using the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting approach, your goals will go from:
“I need to lose weight” to “I will lose 10 pounds over the next 3 months for my daughter’s wedding on August 15th.”
From “I’m going to eat better” to “I’m going to cut out sugary snacks for the next 30 days.”
When you concretely frame your goals, your expectations of success are more likely to be met in reality. On the other hand, broad and abstract goals bring unrealistic expectations.
An awesome bonus?
Research shows that concrete goals lead to increased expectations of achieving the goal. Nice!
Where to Go From Here
We all have things that we want to achieve in our lives — getting into the better shape, building a successful business, raising a awesome family, writing a best-selling book, and so on.
And for most of us, the path to those things start with goal setting. But we usually set horrible goals, which lead to us fail. Which leads to feeling discouraged. Which leads to us quitting.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
By following the SMART goal setting approach, you’ll find that following through on your goals becomes more of a certainty. All from setting specific and actionable goals – SMART goals.
SMART goal setting is one of the most effective and yet least used tools for achieving goals.
Go ahead and jot down the goals you want to reach. Look at each goal and make any changes necessary to ensure they meet the criteria for a SMART goals. Download our free template if you want some help.Goal setting is one of the easiest ways to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Click To Tweet
By following the SMART criteria above, your goals all of a sudden become clearer and instantly more doable. Your goals go from abstract to concrete…from vague to specific…from unattainable to CRUSHABLE!
From DUMB to SMART!
Thanks, DJ Khaled. You the best – keep on winning.
Thanks for reading!
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