How to Set and Achieve Goals

One of the most liberating things that you can do is set goals and review them often. At one time I thought of goals as useless, and just more work on top of an already stretched day. Here are some simple ideas about properly setting goals, and the importance of setting goals. I will confess that we have “wondered” around rather aimlessly until recently. Here is the process that we went through.
My wife remembered seeing information in her college orientation book about goal setting. Here is a summary of the information that was included: Make your goals S-M-A-R-T. The acronym stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
  1. Specific. It is best to be as specific as possible when setting a goal. You do not want to say “I would like to make a ton of money in 2008.” This is to vague, and has no real value. Your idea of a ton may differ from the norm. A specific goal would be as follows: “To make $30,000 from a small business endeavor by 1JAN09.” It is very detailed, as well as having a deadline.
  2. Measurable. As with the above examples, the first one givs absolutely no clue as to when the goal will be achieved. It is psychologically important for me to be able to track my progress. I am a visual learner, thus seeing a line chart or bar graph showing progress is like a shot of adrenaline for me. Make sure that your goal is measurable and the progress can be tracked.
  3. Attainable. Nothing will kill your spirits more than a sense of hopelessness. When you set unattainable goals, it does nothing more than discourage you and lead you to abandon the entire goal setting process. For example, I am completely out of shape; I would not want to set a goal of running six miles in one hour next week.
  4. Realistic. Goals must be realistic, or again, you will become discouraged. I highly advocate setting challenging goals, but do not make them impossible. If you want to set a goal that may border realistic, consider if you are able to attain the goal as well as committed to making the necessary sacrifice to achieve the objective.
  5. Timely. It is vital that you place a time frame on your goal. “I would like to visit the Rocky Mountains”, is not a timely goal. When do you want to visit the Rocky Mountains? Without a time frame there is no sense of urgency. For us, if there is not a sense of urgency we will procrastinate like crazy.
It has been stated that less than three percent of the population have written goals. I can not stress the importance of this enough. If you do not write your goals down, they will sometimes slip into the realm of dreams, which are nothing more than nice thoughts. Study after study has shown that people who write their goals down are 10 times more likely to achieve them. Would you plan a journey to somewhere you have never been without a map? Just take off in the general direction and hope for the best? As absurd as this sounds, it is how most walk through the journey of life. Writing your goals relieves your mind from trying to keep up with them. It also can make you more focused on achieving them. We like to carry ours with us so that we can review them anytime we like.
I would also like to say that setting goals does not only apply to career and finances. Try to include all areas of your life. What would you like achieve as an employee? Father? Friend? Neighbor? Church member? Spouse? Citizen? When you are faced with tough decisions, knowing what you want to secure in these “roles” can help with making some of those decisions. Will this action bring you closer to any of the goals you would like to obtain?
We were kind of forced to get things in order rather quickly after our catastrophe.
Having goals has drastically improved our productivity, along with giving us a little peace of mind.
What method do you use to set goals? How do you measure your progress?

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