Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your ideal future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality.
First you create your “big picture” of what you want to do with your life (over say the next 5, 10 years), and identify the large-scale goals that you want to achieve. Then, you break these down into the smaller and smaller targets that you must hit to reach your lifetime goals. Finally, once you have your plan, you start working on it to achieve these goals.
This is why we start the process of goal setting by looking at your lifetime goals. Then, we work down to the things that you can do in, say, the coming year, next month, next week, and today, to start moving towards them.
For example, if your goal is to be able to lose 12 pounds in weight, do not focus on this goal.
Aim to lose one pound a week for the next 12 weeks and it will be a lot easier to manage and will increase your chances of success massively.
Re-evaluate your current goal after the 90 days has expired If you wanted to lose weight, what would you do? Decide how much you want to lose (your goal)
Make a Plan:
The first step in setting personal goals is to consider what you want to achieve in your lifetime (or at least, by a significant and distant age in the future). Setting lifetime goals gives you the overall perspective that shapes all other aspects of your decision making.
To give a broad, balanced coverage of all important areas in your life, try to set goals in some of the following categories (or in other categories of your own, where these are important to you):
Spend some time brainstorming these things, and then select one or more goals in each category that best reflect what you want to do. Then consider trimming again so that you have a small number of really significant goals that you can focus on.
As you do this, make sure that the goals that you have set are ones that you genuinely want to achieve, not ones that your parents, family, or employers might want. (If you have a partner, you probably want to consider what he or she wants – however, make sure that you also remain true to yourself!)
Productivity studies show that most people can’t focus on more than 5-7 items at any one time. My wife says that as I am a man, that figure is reduced to one Don’t try to take on too many things with a long list of objectives. Focus on a handful of objectives – the ones you care about most – and the ones that you can almost repeat from memory.
Once you have set your lifetime goals, set a five-year plan of smaller goals that you need to complete if you are to reach your lifetime plan.
Then create a one-year plan, six-month plan, and a one-month plan of progressively smaller goals that you should reach to achieve your lifetime goals. Each of these should be based on the previous plan. Then create a daily To-Do List of things that you should do today to work towards your lifetime goals.
At an early stage, your smaller goals might be to read books and gather information on the achievement of your higher level goals. This will help you to improve the quality and realism of your goal setting.
Finally review your plans, and make sure that they fit the way in which you want to live your life.
Staying on Course
Once you’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily or weekly basis. Have you achieved this weeks goals. If not why not and what do you need to do to get back on track?
Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary. I use this one, www.lifetick.com the basic version is free & the upgrade is only $20 a year)
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:
S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).
Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do.
Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model. WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc. WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish? HOW are you going to do it? (By…?)
Ensure the goals you set are very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.
In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, then it is a success.
However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.
Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read all the books in Marc’s library before my birthday” shows the specific target to be measured. “I want to read more” is not as measurable.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it’s too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.
A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.
Reward each small achievement.
If its a big goal then when you are in the planning stage set the rewards. “Once I get the sales to $1000 a week I will take the family to Disneyland,” tell the family first, you now have created yourself a fan club AND someone to motivate you if things go astray. The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.
This is not a synonym for easy. Realistic, in this case, means “do-able”. It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.
Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.
For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague.
It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.
Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART. SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.
In the next article there are some great goal setting tips to help you get started on your new life plan. To access it, go here: 18 Goal Setting Tips
Author: Marc Walton
In the previous article “Goal Setting Guide” I explained the initial steps of setting goals for your new life plan. If you missed it then go to that article first. Below we have some more top tips to help you set proper, achievable goals.
The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:
You now have a choice
If you choose options 1 or 2 then I have lost you already.
If you “choose” option 3 but don’t have time right now then you will forget or fail to do it.
These are the foundations on which your future prosperity will be built.
If you fail to complete this task for all the reasons stated then there is a very good chance you will continue to drift along. I had no plan for most of my adult life and basically drifted along. Yes I was successful BUT I could have done so much better and earlier if I had done this sooner.
If you do not like where you currently are or want to improve your prospects then give it a try, you have nothing to lose and plenty to gain.
JUST DO IT!
“We read and we forget – We do and we understand” - Dan Low
Goal setting and planning are fundamental to your success. Give yourself the best opportunity to improve your life, make the effort NOW to give your future some structure and a target to work towards.
Author: Marc Walton
The following story is an extreme example of goal setting in practice, but also serves to demonstrate that, if it can work in a life-or-death situation, it can be applied just as effectively in normal life.
He fell, severely breaking his leg. Storms were coming; he and his partner, Simon Yates, were out of heating fuel; and Simon and Joe were climbing Alpine style, which means that they had no camps along the climb, no extra supplies, no help.
They were all alone. Their story is brutal & yet heroic. Simon lowered Joe with a rope 300 feet at a time down the mountain. He lowered Joe over and over until he accidentally lowered Joe off a cliff. Joe hung on the rope looking at a 100 foot drop below him, unable to move up the rope or get down to the bottom.
At the same time, Simon hung onto Joe for hours, not knowing what had happened, and not knowing why Joe did not release the rope so he could climb down the mountain and meet him. Simon hung on during a storm until he, too, began slipping down the mountain. Simon had to make a terrible decision. He cut the rope and let Joe fall.
Joe fell into a crevasse and landed on a ledge. After realizing that Simon would not find him, he lowered himself 150 feet to the crevasse floor, and climbed up 130 feet through a side passage out of the crevasse.
He crawled, slid, hobbled and fell for miles and miles, across glacier and rock bed to get back to the base camp. He did this all with no water, no food, frostbitten fingers, and a leg that was completely shattered.
How did he do it?
“And then it occurred to me that I should set definite targets”- Joe Simpson from the movie “Touching the Void.” * Joe’s story is a gut-wrenching example of SMART goal setting. And while it may seem incongruous to compare how Joe survived his life and death ordeal to setting goals in our every day lives, I believe that Joe’s story is a testament to how powerful this technique is.
Over and over, Joe set small, doable goals to get his life back. He clung to these little tasks and had laser focus in their completion. He got his life back 20 minutes at a time.“I started to look at things and think, ‘If I can get to that crevasse over there in 20 minutes, that’s what I’m going to do.’ … And it became obsessive. I don’t know why I did it. I think I knew the big picture of what was happening to me, and what I had to do was so big, I couldn’t deal with it.”
Never have I heard such dramatic and poignant use of SMART goals. Crawl for 20 minutes to the next rock. Then crawl for 20 minutes more. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Timely. Over and over. Joe focused his mind on the small goals he could manage instead of being overwhelmed at the enormity of his situation.
“I’d look at a rock and go, ‘Right, I’ll get there in 20 minutes.’ Once I’d decided I was going to get that distance in 20 minutes, I bloody well was gonna do it. And it would help me because I’d get halfway through the distance and I would be in such pain, I just couldn’t bear the thought of getting up and falling again. But I’d look at the time and think, ‘I’ve got to get there.’ ”
His focus was complete. His goals were his only attention. One of the best ways to face a stressful situation is to break it into smaller tasks, and have each task very attainable and with measurable results.
As we looked at in the previous chapter, Joe used SMART goals to get himself to safety and save himself in 1985. Joe crawled off a mountain, with a leg that was so badly broken that his lower leg was pushed up through his knee, splitting the bone above. He crawled for miles until he finally reached safety.
For Joe, his SMART goals literally saved his life. Unlike most of us, Joe’s stress was not a function of modern life – stress which has perceived negative consequences but not actual life-threatening risk. Despite the difference between Joe’s circumstances and ours, Joe’s story offers great help to us all.
Extreme stories like Joe’s are beacons to what is important in less extreme circumstances. Whenever I feel a task is too big or against all odds, I remember Joe crawling 20 minutes to the next boulder. Completing one simple job within a big project, making it through one difficult day during an emotional crisis, reacting one time with patience and humor instead of anger, one step at a time, we can all make our bigger goals.
In the next article, “Marc’s Big 4 0 Plan” I show you how goal setting transformed and gave clarity to my life. For many years prior to this I had simply reacted to events rather than controlled my destiny. This became one of the best, most productive times of my life. I wish I had learned this skill earlier.
*Joe Simpson’s story is told in his book “Touching the Void”, published by Harper Paperbacks in the revised edition in 2004. It was also made into a stunning move, “Touching the Void” directed by Kevin Macdonald and produced in 2003.
Author: Marc Walton
In recent articles I have explained the importance of goal setting and planning. Of crucial importance is you WRITE DOWN the goals as explained in the article: Why Goals are VITAL To Your Success
It took me 20 years to actually get round to doing this but the results were incredible, in terms of what I was able to achieve in a relatively short period of time. The other major benefit was that I actually felt that I was in control of my life rather than simply reacting to events. The clarity that gave me was worth the time creating my plan, the extra money and success were an added bonus.
Not long after my 40th birthday a good friend of mine, Bob, who was only a couple of years older than me, dropped dead from a heart attack. This caused me to look extremely closely at my own life. I was working 70 hours a week and stressed up to the eyeballs. I was permanently tired and often in a bad mood with the few hours I spent with my young kids.
I hated the English weather and the politics. I was earning a serious amount of money and had the big house and the cars, but other parts of my life stank. So, following Richard Bransons mantra from an earlier post “Screw it, lets do it” – I really disliked the business so much that despite the great income I sold it.
My wife and I decided to go for the dream we had of living in the Canary Islands. That was our big, overall goal. The next step was to create a plan and milestones along the way. Working backwards from the goal…..
My wife & I had always made money via property and the sale of our main home which we had built ourselves was to be a part of that. We needed to decorate and tidy up, then appoint a sales agent. At the same time we needed to create a substantial income to fund our semi-retirement with 4 young kids.
We then bought 10 houses to rent out. Thanks to Martin, my property mentor, this only cost around $150.000. Martin showed us how to study the market. Where to buy and which areas to avoid. The type of properties for maximum profit. How to negotiate the purchases. How to fund them.
We used tradesmen for the skilled jobs and Sharon and I did all the painting and manual work. This gave us approximately $5000 a month income and a promise from me that I will never, ever, lift another paintbrush for the rest of my life .
We also developed (now sold and invested in gold and silver) a shares portfolio for additional income.
“Goals are dreams with snap, crackle & pop” – Keith Ellis
Most of my friends were convinced I had really lost the plot by this stage!
So the next part of the plan was to take singing and guitar lessons AND practise at least an hour per day.
Finally we all needed to learn the language for our new home. We employed a local Spanish lady who came to our house every week and over the next 18 months we learned enough to make a start in our new Country.
Most of this was ongoing over a 2 year period. We couldn’t do anything until the business was sold and that took 12 months for everything to go through which was the longest year of my life, but at least we were getting on with other parts of the plan.
The next step was we needed to buy a house in our new country. If you are thinking of emigrating my best advice is rent first or do as we did, buy something cheap to start with.
We chose the latter as it meant that we had made a commitment to carry the plan through. This took 3 or 4 visits and even more later on for the nonsensical Spanish legal system. Just over 2 years after the initial decision was made we were on a plane to our new home (the goal) with 1 suitcase each!
We reached the goal by following the plan. Along the way was one of the most enjoyable and rewarding times of my life.
Our goal was reached by following the plan.
Lesson Learned? Live The Dream, but make sure that you plan it first.
Author: Marc Walton