I just spent 4 months planning a huge surprise birthday party for my mother. She turned 60, so it was kind of a big deal. For these 4 months, 40 of her closest family and friends kept this big secret from her.
Picture this: It’s the night of the party. She walks into the restaurant for what she thinks is a casual dinner date. We yell surprise, start singing Happy Birthday, present her with her favorite red velvet cake, and queue the waterworks! Taken aback, she musters the following words as tears trickle down her cheeks…”Oh my, thank you, thank you, thank you, I have NO more goals!”
Laughter erupts. It was funny…but also kind of sad, I thought. I was still thinking about it days after. So I asked her about it. “When you said you had NO more goals, what did you mean?” She said the following in only a way my mother, known in social circles as Sue Magoo, could get away with: “Well, I don’t really recall saying that. However, if I had, I know that what I would have meant was that I’m 60 now. I have everything I need. I have no more goals.”
This got me thinking…I actually can’t wait until I get to the point in which I have no more goals! Ironically, to reach this goal, I must set some goals.
No matter what you’re doing, if you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals, you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction, but it also provides you a benchmark for determining whether you are actually succeeding.
To accomplish your goals, you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration of what you want to achieve and ends with a lot of hard work. In between, there are some very well defined steps that transcend the specifics of each goal. Knowing these steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.
Here are our five golden rules of goal setting:
Set Goals that Motivate You
When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you. This means making sure that they are important to you, and that there is value in achieving them. If you have little interest in the outcome, or they are irrelevant given the larger picture, then the chances of you putting in the work to make them happen are slim. Motivation is key to achieving goals.
Set goals that relate to the high priorities in your life. Without this type of focus, you can end up with far too many goals, leaving you too little time to devote to each one. Goal achievement requires commitment, so to maximize the likelihood of success, you need to feel a sense of urgency and have an “I must do this” attitude. When you don’t have this, you risk putting off what you need to do to make the goal a reality. This leaves you feeling disappointed and frustrated with yourself, both of which are de-motivating. And you can end up in a very destructive “I can’t do anything or be successful at anything” frame of mind.
Tip: To make sure your goal is motivating, write down why it’s valuable and important to you. Ask yourself, “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” You can use this motivating value statement to help you if you start to doubt yourself or lose confidence in your ability to actually make the goal happen.
Set SMART Goals
You have probably heard of SMART goals Add to My Personal Learning Plan already. But do you always apply the rule? The simple fact is that for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. There are many variations of what SMART stands for, but the essence is this – goals should be:
- Time Bound.
- Set Specific Goals
Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction. Remember, you need goals to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can to get where you want to go by defining precisely where you want to end up.
Set Measurable Goals
Include precise amounts, dates, and so on 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 have achieved something.
Set Attainable Goals
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. Accomplishing a goal that you didn’t have to work hard for can be anticlimactic at best, and can also make you fear setting future goals that carry a risk of non-achievement. 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.
Set Relevant Goals
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. Set widely scattered and inconsistent goals, and you’ll fritter your time away.
Set Time-Bound Goals
Your goals must have a deadline. Again, this means that you know when you can celebrate success. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement will come that much quicker.
Set Goals in Writing
The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible. You have no excuse for forgetting about it. As you write, use the word “will” instead of “would like to” or “might.” For example, “I will reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year,” not “I would like to reduce my operating expenses by 10 percent this year.” The first goal statement has power and you can “see” yourself reducing expenses, the second lacks passion and gives you an excuse if you get sidetracked.
Make an Action Plan
This step is often missed in the process of goal setting. You get so focused on the outcome that you forget to plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. By writing out the individual steps, and then crossing each one off as you complete it, you’ll realize that you are making progress towards your ultimate goal. This is especially important if your goal is big and demanding or long-term.
Stick With It!
Remember, goal setting is an ongoing activity, not just a means to an end. Build in reminders to keep yourself on track, and make regular time-slots available to review your goals. Your end destination may remain quite similar over the long term, but the action plan you set for yourself along the way can change significantly. Make sure the relevance, value, and necessity remain high.
Tip: Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Unless you clearly define exactly what you want and understand why you want it the first place, your odds of success are considerably reduced. By following these Five Golden Rules of Goal Setting you can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.
So this is what I am doing…In honor of my 60-year old mother, I use the SMART strategy to map out my end goal of having NO more goals!