I have always been a huge believer and practitioner of the Stephen Covey habit “begin with the end in mind,” the premise being; know where you want to go and work backwards to determine all the things that need to be put in place to get there successfully. A few years ago I heard another saying by well known Canadian financial guru, Gail Vaz Oxlade, who said “the only place you get without a map is lost” this quote depicts the importance of putting a plan in place to reach your goals, so you will not get lost, off track or derailed from reaching your end goal. These two quotes encompass the value and importance of having well planned out goals if you have something you intend to accomplish.
Why set goals?
You have probably heard from parents, friends and coaches about the importance of setting goals; that setting goals are crucial to achieving and accomplishing great things in your life. Experts identify some of the benefits of having a goal.
- Gives you clarity on your end vision
- Keeps you focused and helps you stay on track
- Keeps you accountable
However, understanding the importance of goal setting and knowing how to set goals for yourself are two different things. To achieve your goals, you must get specific, and answer the following questions:
What do I want to accomplish?
Why do you want to achieve this?
Who is involved?
When do you want to accomplish it by?
How are you going to make this happen?
Goals need to be S.M.A.R.T.
Sometimes people get a little over zealous and make their goals a little too big, they make too many, they make them not specific, and they don’t write them down. These are surefire ways to end up not meeting your goals.You have probably heard of “SMART goals”, but do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for any goal to be achieved it must be designed to be SMART.
Your goals must be clear and well defined. You must understand what you wish to achieve. Vague or generalized goals are not achievable because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way.
Include precise amounts, dates, etc. in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you actually achieved something.
Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. If you set a goal that you have no hope of achieving, you will only demoralize yourself and erode your confidence. However, resist the urge to set goals that are too easy. By setting realistic yet challenging goals you hit the balance you need. These are the types of goals that require you to “raise the bar” and they bring the greatest personal satisfaction.
Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. By keeping goals aligned with this, you’ll develop the focus you need to get ahead and do what you want.
Your goals must have a deadline. This again, is so that you know when to celebrate your success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.
There is a lot of information on this very important topic. However, amid a plethora of information, here are the highlights:
- Write your goals down
- Set short, medium and long-term goals
- Visualize yourself achieving you goals
- Frequently review your goals
- Always reward yourself when you achieve a goal
I am not going to lie. It takes time, discipline and commitment to get into the habit of setting goals and sticking to the process but as Antoine de Saint-Exupery so eloquently put it “A goal without a plan is just a wish” so sticking to the plan will definitely be worth it!