Goal Setting

A goal is a way of determining where you are going. It is the “there” that you identify from your vantage point of “here.” Between where you are and where you want to go is an invisible cord; when you stake out and define where it is you want to go, you energize that cord. The promise of your goals are what creates the dynamic tension that pulls you automatically towards their realization.

We all have visions; what we want to accomplish, what we want to achieve or attain, images of how we would like our lives to be. What transforms those visions into reality is the willingness to establish them into real goals. By doing this, you begin to chart a course that will take you to the heart of your highest visions and dreams and make them into reality.

“Goal setting” has become a rather over-used term in the fields of career and life guidance, but there’s no way around it: it is still the most effective way to get you from where you are now to where you want to go. Conventional wisdom may seem ordinary, but the power of it lies in its universal truth.

I have been using goals with my clients and myself for over three decades and I know that the process works. It activates the “Laws of attraction” by having you articulate your wishes and desires, by being really clear and specific and also by being brave enough to specify a date. All the people that I have “mid-wifed” to success have started the process by establishing their goals. If they didn’t have a goal, I never would have known how to support them, nor would they have known what steps to take or when to take them.

Your goals are what move you along your personal game board of success. As you achieve each one that you set for yourself, you move yourself closer to the vision of success that you have created in your mind’s eye. Goals are mileposts along the road that help motivate you as you reach for your finish line. The size and scope of the goals are not important- they can be small or significant; what matters most is that you take the time to articulate them.

A Goal is a statement of a measurable result to be achieved. Goals provide a means for translating wishes into reality. They help you “know when you win” and provide a basis for determining where effort should be focused. All of your goals should follow the S.M.A.R.T. acronym.

specific

To make your wish specific, you must articulate precisely what you mean and exactly what it is that you want to achieve. For instance, if your goal is to climb the corporate ladder within your company, you need to articulate what that means for you. Perhaps your goal is to eventually become president of the company. Or, another example I recently heard from a workshop participant, if your wish is to play professional basketball, you might specify which position you want to play and for which team.

Measurable

The second criteria is that it must be measurable. You must be able to count, or mark, the outcome in some way. In the corporate situation, the marker would be your appointment by the board to the position of president.

Attainable

The third criteria is that is must be attainable according to your personal profile. Is it possible for you given your features, characteristics, assets, and limitations to achieve this goal? You can’t be five feet tall and realistically play center for a major league basketball team. If your firm requires all executives to have a college degree, you can’t expect to become president of the company without one. In other words, the goals must be within your realm of capabilities.

Realistic

Is it realistic for you to play professional ball if you have bad knees? Is it realistic for you to become president of your company if you know it means relocating to another continent with aging parents who require your care and attention? In other words, does your goal make sense? There is a fine line between reaching for the stars and losing your grip on reality. The best way to test to see if your goal is realistic is to notice how you present it to yourself or to others. If you are defensive about your goal, it probably lacks realism.

Time Based

Fifth, you want to anchor your statement of outcome in a timeframe. Every goal must have a completion date attached. If a date is not attached, the desired outcome turns into an intention rather than a goal, postponed by the eternal promise of “someday,” crippled by the “not now syndrome.” Dates commit intentions to calendar realities. They target the timeframe for the goal and prevent it from withering away into infinity.

Take your goals and make each one “SMART.” Make sure you put down the date when you want them accomplished.

Action steps always start with a verb such as: write, research, e-mail, call, buy, etc…

Starting the task with a verb enables you to immediately know the action you must take. Take one goal and create mini action steps for it.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How do you feel about your goals?
  • How do you feel about the tasks?
  • Are they aligned?
  • Do you see a direct relationship between each goal and the tasks you have established?
  • Can you see the path to fruition?

Post your goals at your desk, on your refrigerator door, on your bathroom mirror, or on a sticky note on your computer desk screen. You want to consciously focus on your goals every day to make sure that you are on track.

Once per quarter, review your goals to ensure that you are focused on your highest priorities. Most of all manage yourself so that you produce the results that you are capable and ultimately get what you want.