Setting goals in life is important to give your life direction. For most people, creating their goals is easy, it’s the execution that is the struggle. This may be because you haven’t spend enough time thinking about your goals and creating SMART goals that will lead to action plans to reach your goals.
“Goals are just dreams with a deadline” and if you are going to reach your goals you must take the time to create a plan to do so. This is where having concrete, solid goals will help. Use these techniques and tips to help you define your goals and create a strategy to achieve them.
Choose SMART Goals
SMART goals meet five specific criteria; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Each aspect turns this type of goal setting into an action plan that will help you reach your goals. While goal setting, grab a piece of paper and write down answers to address each of these criteria:
It’s important to develop well-defined and focused goals. If your goal is too vague it will make it challenging to know when you accomplish it. It will make it more challenging to build a plan of action to reach it. A specific goal will usually answer the “six Ws”:
- Who: Who is involved? Will these goals include friends or family members?
- What: What exactly do you want to accomplish?
- Where: Identify a location, where do you want to complete your goals – work, home, the gym?
- Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing each goal.
- When: Establish a time frame – 6 months, 1 year, 2 years?
- Which: Which constraints or requirements may get in your way of achieving your goals?
After you set a specific goal, make sure that it is measurable. If you can’t measure your goal and don’t have benchmarks for along the way, how will you know when you are making progress. Ask yourself these question to create a timeline to help you reach your goals:
- How much? How many? – lose “X” pounds, save “X” dollars, ect.
- What is at the finish line?
- How will I know when my goal is accomplished?
One of the biggest issues in goal setting is reaching for goals that are unattainable. It is important to be realistic in your goals. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t dream big, it simply means that make sure you can reach your goals in the allotted time and also consider if there is a smaller goal to work towards first.
- Identify ways to make your goals come true.
- Make sure you are both willing and able to work towards your goals
- Are you willing to make the commitment and sacrifice other things to reach your goals?
The goals you are considering must be important to YOU. If your goal doesn’t mean anything to you, then it’s not worth pursuing. Make sure your goal excites you. It should be something that excites you each day and makes you want to jump out of bed. If it excites you, and is relevant in you life, it will make it easier to stay motivated to achieve it.
Setting a deadline for your goals creates a sense of urgency, creating more commitment and pushing you to work harder to achieve them. If you don’t set a deadline, your dream will never come true, because it lacks the urgency.
Create both Long-Term & Short-Term Goals
Having one BIG long-term goal can seem overwhelming. That’s why its also important to create short-term goals that will help lead to your overall goal. Creating both long-term goals and short-term goals will keep you focused and on track. Creating yearly, monthly, weekly, and even daily goals will make your goals more manageable.
How to Create Long & Short-Term Goals
- Work your Way Backwards – Think about you BIG goal, then think about what you need to achieve, each year, month, week, or day to get you to that goal.
- Create a Timeline – If your goal is to lose 50 pounds in 2 years, after one year you should lose 25 pounds, and each month you should lose 2-3 pounds, which means a half to one pound per week to reach your goal. Losing half a pound seems much more attainable than 50!
- Make a Daily Plan – List all of the things that you need to accomplish each day to work towards your long-term, big goals.
More Tips for Goal Setting
Write your Goals Down
As soon as you write your goals down they become tangible. You can see your goals everyday and remember why you choose them. It will also further force you to specify your goals so that they make sense in writing as well as in your head.
View them Everyday
Place your goals somewhere you can see them everyday, perhaps on your refrigerator, at your desk, or on your bathroom mirror. This reminds you of your goals daily and forces you to take action towards your goal daily. It will also allow you to see your success when you reach shorter term goals.
Make an Action Plan and Stick to It
Once you have your small term goals specified, take time to organize them into, yearly, monthly, weekly, and even daily goals. You will feel successful knowing each day you did something that is helping you reach you big, long-term goal.
Set Goals in Multiple Areas of your Life
Your goals shouldn’t just be fitness related, or work related, or money related. All aspects of your life deserve goals. If your main goal is to lose 30 pounds, once you are able to start achieving that goal you will feel more confident to improve other aspects of your life. Perhaps you would like to own a home in the next five years, or get a promotion at work. Whatever it may be, once you start accomplishing smaller goals, you will feel more comfortable reaching out and improving other important things in your life.
If your Goal Doesn’t Work, Change It
As we age and progress through life, things change, and maybe so will your goals. That’s OK, your goals should be a journey and on that journey it is alright to take different directions. As long as your goals are making you a better person and giving you happiness, you are on the right path.