The Correct Way to Set Goals for Success
We set goals so many times through our lives, New Year’s resolutions, education, health and fitness, climbing the ladder at work, earning bonuses, buying a new car, saving money, going on holiday, getting to the next level in your own business. But how often do those goals work out?
The problem is we often don’t know how to set a goal properly. Our destination is hazy, the road map non-existent. Our inability to meet our goals can be frustrating, demotivating, even demoralising.
The underlying problem is that a dream or a wish is not the same thing as a goal.
A true goal is an action plan. You need a dedicated system in place that you pay attention to every day. It takes careful consideration followed by well structured hard work.
With the right action plan you can get your goals met, and rapidly. All you need to do is make sure your destination is well defined with stepping-stones to bridge the gap from here to there and keep you moving forward.
When you know how, you can set goals for any area of your life or business. When you understand the formula for a successful goal strategy you can continue to implement working goals at every life stage and business cycle for growth and continued success.
In this article we will go through:
- Setting your destination.
- Planning your route.
- Executing any goal.
Set Goals: Know Your Destination
When you set goals, they need to be inspiring and motivating. Without these ingredients you will have no power or energy to see them through.
Part of an inspiring and motivating goal is that it is in line with your personal values and priorities. If you find yourself procrastinating, you have most likely set a goal that is a low priority or low personal value. Take the time to connect to the outcome of your goal. Is this what you want for your business? Are you excited about how your future would look if this goal were to be achieved?
When you have a goal that inspires you to excel, it’s time to write them out in the I’M SMART formula.
The I’M SMART goal is a tried and tested goal-writing system. You will need to complete every level of I’M SMART to be successful in reaching your goal.
I = Inspiring. It almost goes without saying, your goal must inspire you!
M = Motivating. Your goal needs to motivate you enough to be excited about setting your alarm for 5am and working for it, even when it would be easier to hit snooze and sleep until 8.
S = Specific. This means detailed. You need to have a clear, defined picture, feeling or knowledge of the end result. Be as vivid and specific as you possibly can and include the impact to other areas of your life. If you meet your business goals, what will that mean for your personal finances, your relationships, your health?
You are looking to reinforce positives over every aspect of your life to give you the willpower to go the distance.
M = Measurable. The measure is solid proof that you are making progress as well as creating a solid and tangible finish-line. When you are creating your goal use as many numbers, dates, and comparisons as possible.
If no existing numbers are available create your own scales, i.e. 1-10, and rank where you are now, and where you want to be in that area. Include as many exact numbers as you can. That can be the number of lives you change (X), the healthy weight you achieve (X), the exact dollar amount in your savings account (X). Include months, weeks and days as counters.
A = Attainable. Having accurate expectations of what you can achieve is important. If you overestimate what you can achieve and your goal is un-achievable you will not be motivated to continue, you may even reject the idea of starting a new goal plan.
Be realistic about what is possible, have a solid understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and set a goal that you can reach.
On the other hand, if you make your goal too easy, you won’t have the desire to chase it. There is a thrill and excitement when it comes to achieving a big goal. It’s this risk that enables you to push when things are tough and put in the work required to get there. If there is no risk involved, you’ll get bored and distracted. So set the bar high, but not out of reach.
R = Relevant. When you set goals, they need to matter to you personally. The impact to your life needs to be significant. If you are only doing something because you should the goal will fizzle out after a few weeks, because it is not bringing you fulfilment or satisfaction. For example, you can’t lose weight to please someone or because you’ve been told to. Make sure your goal is relevant to your life.
T = Time Bound. Set goals that have a deadline. Without it you will have no motivation to get started. Look forward to celebrating your success. Knowing success is coming at a set date allows you to get excited about your achievements.
That excitement creates powerful forward moving motivation (a lot more powerful than negative motivation of what will happen if you don’t achieve your goal). Looking forward to the success of your goal will keep you motivated longer.
A good time-frame for a long-term goal is five to seven years.
A good time-frame for a short-term goal is six to twelve months.
Set Goals: Know Your Route
Now that you know where you are going, you need to plot a route to get there.
Write down your I’M SMART goal to give it a feeling of tangible risk.
Writing down your goal helps you stay accountable and keeps it firmly in your mind. You can use mind-maps, create a fictional diary entry set in the future, make a vision board, or just write out your goals in a bullet journal.
Your goal needs to be stated in the positive and stated in the present time – as if you are already there. For example, ‘my business is turning over five million dollars a year,’ rather than ‘my business will be turning over five million a year.’
Once you have your goal set you can break it down monthly, fortnightly, weekly, even daily to know what you are required to action right now to get you moving closer to your destination.
State for yourself ‘to achieve this goal in five years time I will need to be doing X in two years time. To achieve that two year milestone I will need to have achieved X in one year. To get to that one year milestone I need to action this plan in six months. To action that in six months I need to do this step next week.’
Simply focus your energy on doing what comes next and you will have completed your goal.
Having set milestones and a big picture outcome also helps you prioritise and stay on track. Check in with your goal and milestones often to make adjustments and stay on track to your destination.
If you come to a critical decision or temptation to go in a different direction, simply ask yourself, ‘Will doing this help me get to my goal?’
When you remind yourself just how incredible your life will be when you reach your destination you can effortlessly bypasses short term ‘fixes’ and bad habits that might previously have sabotaged your efforts.
Achieving a goal is rewarding on so many levels. You not only get where you want to go and have the life you want to live, but you gain skills along the way. Every time you achieve a goal you strengthen and increase your ability to achieve the next one.
For assistance generating ideas and creating your goals in the I’M SMART formula, book a time with me and I’ll show you the correct way to set goals for success quickly and easily.