How successful were you in 2008? Did you achieve your personal and business goals? If you are like the majority of busy people, you didn’t write your goals down. There are many reasons not to write our goals but unfortunately most of them are negative. Does this sound familiar?
o · If I write down my goals and don’t achieve them, I have a constant reminder of failing.
o · I like to be flexible, writing goals down puts limits on me.
o · I don’t have time; I’m busy trying to get things done.
There have been studies done over the years that confirm writing your goals and looking at them regularly greatly increases your success in achieving them. What is interesting is that goal setting works both personally and in business environments. Many years ago I learned about goal setting and have used it religiously to help me move forward both personally and professionally.
So what is goal setting? Goal setting is a process that helps you get clear on what you want, make an action plan to help you get there, launch into action, and persist until you reach your destination or find a better one.
Texas oil billionaire H.L. Hunt once said that there are only two ingredients necessary for success. The first is that you have to decide exactly what it is that you want. This is where he believed many stumble. They never decide what it is that they really want. They may think they want something from time to time, usually something generic and vague like “being rich” or “a better job,” but it’s just a fleeting thought; they never truly get clear on what these things really mean.
Hunt said that once you’ve decided what it is that you want, the second ingredient is to determine the price you have to pay to get what you want, and then resolve to pay that price by establishing your priorities and getting to work.
Many who get past the first ingredient never apply the second one. They don’t understand that you have to pay the price in full before you can claim your prize.
You can think of goal setting as a process that helps you to decide exactly what it is that you want, and then to systematically pay the price in order to get it. It is a process that helps you focus your time and energy on your targets through careful and deliberate planning.
Another area where many of us stumble is understanding what a goal is and how to write it effectively. A goal is a well-defined target that gives you clarity, direction, motivation, and focus. It must include all of these criteria!
When identifying my goals, I like to use the SMART acronym. There are several variations but I have used the following successfully:
S – Specific and Significant: Your goal statement should be very clear and specific as to what you want. This will facilitate the goal-seeking mechanism of the brain. Significant goals are the ones that will make a positive difference in your life.
M – Measurable and Motivational: There is an old saying that says “what gets measured gets done.” Making your goal measurable helps you see your progress, recognize if you are moving in the right direction, and see how far you still need to go. Goals need to be motivational. They need to inspire you to take action and make progress. One of the best ways to make goals motivational is to ask yourself why you want to achieve them.
A – Achievable and Action-oriented: Achievable doesn’t mean easy, just that you can have a reasonable expectation of achieving it. Action-oriented means your goal should focus on actions you can take that are in your direct control.
R – Realistic and Relevant: Realistic is another word for achievable. It means that the actions associated with your goal are things that you can do. Good goals are relevant to you and to your life. Relevant goals are meaningful and significant; they can make a difference in your life.
T – Time-bound and Trackable: For goals that have a natural ending (like outcome goals), establishing a clear deadline for them adds an element of urgency and motivation. All goals should be trackable so you can see what your progress is, either in terms of results you are experiencing, or actions you are taking.
From my experience, taking the time to complete this exercise has been invaluable. As a business owner, I used this format with my key employees to set both annual and quarterly goals. Writing them down is the first and most important step in the process. Reading them and internalizing every day helps to keep your mind focused on what is important.
Most of us have been exposed to goal setting during our careers. Unfortunately, what we know is common sense but not common practice. There is an old saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail.”