Goal Setting 101

Have you made New Year’s resolutions or set previous goals only to find yourself frustrated that you are stuck in the same place without making much progress toward your dreams?  Try this tried and true method to achieve those goals that really matter!

Set Goals that Motivate and Inspire You

Goals are very personal and unique to every individual. When you set goals for yourself, it is important that they motivate you and are a reflection of the priorities in your life.  Take time to reflect on what really matters in your life and set goals that support your values and priorities.

Use the SMART Goal Formula:  This time honored method of goal setting is a framework for successful goals and measureable outcomes.

Specific

Your goal must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don't provide sufficient direction or a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. 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.

Measurable

Include precise amounts, dates, and so on in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. If your goal is simply defined as "To reduce expenses" how will you know when you have been successful? In one month's time if you have a 1 percent reduction or in two years' time when you have a 10 percent reduction? Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with knowing you have actually achieved something.

Attainable

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.

Relevant

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.

Time-Bound

 You 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.

 Write Them Down

The physical act of writing down a goal makes it real and tangible.  As you write, use positive and use decisive language like "will" instead of "would like to".  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 with a To-Do List

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.

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.

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. You can set goals with confidence and enjoy the satisfaction that comes along with knowing you achieved what you set out to do.