5 September 2009 – Design Your Life through Successful Goal Setting. By Karen Boyes
There are two choices you have about the future… let it happen or make it happen. Take a moment to reflect on what your life was like ten years ago. What were you doing? Where were you working or were you studying at College or Uni? Who did you spend time with? What was your personal life like?
Could you have imagined back then that your life ten years in the future would have been like it is today? If you answered yes to this, chances are you had some goals, a plan or a vision for what your life would be like. Now imagine ten years from today. What will your life be like?
Setting goals and having a vision for the future are sensible if success is something you aim for. Not just New Year resolutions that are forgotten by the next month, but meaningful goals that give you a direction and a purpose. Nearly all the successful people, whether it be in sport, politics, career, family etc have had goals and/or a vision to make it happen. It rarely happens on its own if left to chance.
There are seven simple steps to SMARTER goal setting.
Your goals must be very SPECIFIC. If I set a goal that states “I want to be successful” it doesn’t say at what. You get what you ask for in life. “Ask and you shall be given.” How can you get what you want out of life if you don’t tell anyone, especially if you are not even sure yourself?
Your goals must be measurable. What would happen if you ran a marathon and there was no finish line? How would you know when you had completed the run? You would either stop short or keep going. If getting fit is a goal – how will you know when you are fit? Does it mean you can run to the letterbox and back without puffing or does it mean you have 15% body fat? How will you determine that you have completed the goal? Make your goals measurable so that you will know when you have achieved a goal and celebrate your success.
Set your goals so they are achievable. If you want to be an Olympic swimmer and you don’t know how to swim, this goal may be too big. If you want to be a Mechanical Engineer and you are good at language and not so good at maths, you may want to reconsider your goal.
A friend once set a goal to run a particular half marathon in 2 hours and 22 minutes. She wrote her goal down and displayed it so she could see it daily. This goal was an achievable goal for her – but not for me because I don’t run! When she ran the half marathon the stop watch stopped at 2 hours and 22 minutes!
I asked my friend “What if you had set your goal for 2 hours and 18 minutes?” She replied that at the time this was not realistic, however it is now. The difference between achievable and realistic is that it is achievable for every student this year sitting exams to pass. What will be different is realistically are those students willing to do what it takes? Are they willing to study, ask questions if they are not sure, learn the information they got wrong, practice old exam papers, use colour and effective note taking. Are you willing to do what it takes to achieve your goals?
It’s also essential to put a date or time frame on your goals. When do you want to achieve this goal? A time frame creates urgency. If you say your goal is to complete all the marking on my desk, it doesn’t say by when. If I say “My goal is to complete all the marking on my desk by the weekend” there is a bit more urgency to get on with it.
Goals are all the more powerful when they EXCITE you. When your goals are aligned with your personal vision or mission they are more likely to come to fruition. If you are not sure of your purpose, consider for a moment the answers to these questions? If you had 25 hours a day, what would you do with the extra hour? (You are not allowed to answer sleep! That will not aid in finding your mission.)
What three things would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Think of 3 people who know you best, what would they say your strengths are? When was a time you were really excited, passionate about what you were doing? If you had $1 Million to give to a cause, which cause would you give to and how would you advise them to use it?
Find or design a vision or mission that is bigger than yourself and you will discover an energy and liveliness that you have never imagined.
The very last step to successful goal setting is to RECORD and REVIEW. Write your goals down and read them as often as possible or display your goals in a pictorial form by cutting out pictures and words from magazines and hang it somewhere you can see it each day. The impact of having a written set of goals is demonstrated by this study. A 1953 survey of the graduating class at Harvard University, revealed that only 3% of the class had a set of written goals. Twenty years later this 3% had obtained more wealth, happiness and success than the other 97% combined.
Dreams don’t come true magically. They usually become a reality slowly through experiences, encouragement from others, examples from people you know or personalities on TV or that you have read about.
Once you know what your goals are, it is essential you plan the steps involved to complete them. If you are not sure of the steps involved, you could use the Planning Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) that NASA used to put a man on the moon. You start with the final outcome and work backwards asking “what happened just before that.”
Reviewing your goals is also essential. Once you head on your journey towards your goal it is important that you reflect on the journey – are you continuing to head in the desired direction? Have you slipped off course? Once you start taking action, you may slip up on a step as all the steps are not the same height. If you do – learn from your mistakes and attempt it again.
A way to fast track your goals is to model successful people and find mentors. Successful people love helping others become successful. Just ask.
Find people who have already succeeded at something you want to do. Find role models who have overcome obstacles. Read books about successful people. Watch documentaries about people who have achieved. Take a successful person out for lunch.
The exciting part of goal setting is that you are in command of your future. It may not happen exactly as you expect, but what if it does?
You only get one shot at this life – design it and live the life you dream of.
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