Life is a journey with both valleys and mountains along the way.
Sometimes the top of the mountain seems so high that you simply want to give up altogether.
Sometimes you slip and fall, and may lose your grips.
Sometimes you may not feel like you have the strength and courage to get back up, dust yourself off, and continue on the journey.
But life is a always a journey, and only you can determine which direction and what distance you will travel.
Like any other journey, the journey of life begins with a single step…
And the first single step on your personal Pilgrim’s Progress is to establish goals…
After all…Those who fail to plan, plan to fail…and no one wants to fail, right?!
So why should establishing goals be the very first step along the journey…
- 1. Goals allow you to see those people with common interests and dreams that are also starting along the same path as you, or are a little bit further ahead. Goals assure that everyone in your caravan is pulling in the same direction.
- 2. Goals establish identity. Established goals allow you to decide how to distinguish yourself from other wolves in the pack and impact your positionwithin the group..
- 3. Goals make it easier to plan ahead and start working on tasks that actually support your mission.
- 4. Goals help you understand whether you aresuccessful or not. Having measurable goals allows you to see how far you have traveled already, how much further you have until you reach your destination, and if you are still on course.
- 5. Goals improve productivity. Youknow what needs to be accomplished both in the present and in the future to reach these goals. You can now direct your actions and efforts toward goal-related activities…instead of unrelated, unimportant, non-strategic activities.
- 6. Goals enable you to make smarter decisions. Having well-defined goals allows you confront the decisions you encounter along the way with greater confidence and a greater chance of success. Goals give you a framework within which to work and eliminate uncertainty and actions that won’t contribute to achieving the goals you’ve set.
- 7. Goals provide motivation. Looking at your endeavor from a broader perspective gives you greater confidence in what lies ahead. Goals that have already been achieved give you a reason to celebrate along the way.
- 8. Goals provide cohesion. Each wolf traveling along the same path towards the same destination understands the meaning behind the group’s activities. Having well-defined goals enables the wolves to be consistent and encourages communication and cooperation.
- 9. Goals provide direction and set the course. Carefully established goals help you clearly define and understand where you are and where you want to be…and that each activity or task works toward your established goals.
- 10. Goals provide focus. Goals enable you to understand how smaller decisions impact larger goals. Goals focus attention on achieving desirable big-picture outcomes and channel brain power toward finding smarter solutions to the “small fire” issues when they come your way.
Setting goals is simply SMART…
Many business schools and professionals use the acronym SMART as a guide to set company goals…
This acronym can be used for goals that we set individually also, so let’s take a closer look.
Specific…Goals should always be stated in a way that can easily be understood….and should always be written down so that they become something tangible to focus on, evaluate, and refine on a regular basis. As you are establishing your “chosen frozen” goals, ask yourself…
- What needs to be accomplished?
- Why is reaching this goal important?
- How can I spend my time in a way that is consistent with these goals?
Measurable…Goals should be stated in a way that can be easily measured….and shared with your support group, your significant other, or even your own mother. These people can walk along beside you on the journey, provide accountability, and encourage you to keep on going when you really feel like giving up. Ask yourself…
- Can I track and measure at least one statistic related to this goal?
- Can I easily evaluate my overall progress by knowing these numbers?
- Will there be enough information to know if and/or when I should set new goals?
Attainable…”We can only climb the mountains because there’s a valley that makes the mountain a mountain.”
But if the top of the mountain is light years and light years away, then are you really being realistic…
Honestly evaluate where you currently are in order to establish a solid foundation before setting long-term and short-term goals. Ask yourself…
- Are the goals that you set achievable, yet challenging?
- Are you starting off with smaller targets and then challenging yourself as you have had more practice and time to get comfortable with the path?
- Are the goals merely unattainable wishes?
Realistic…Goals must also be realistic and flexible, not carved in stone. Setting goals should not only be a one-time event done only when creating your business plan or settling on your life path. Life happens.
So take some time periodically to re-evaluate your goals, to see exactly how successful you’ve been at achieving them, and to ake any minor changes needed to redirect your efforts. Ask yourself…
- What is the probability of ever reaching this goal?
- Do I have the resources needed to actually reach these goals?
- Are these goals actually goals or simply wishes?
Timely – Goals should be based on a timeline…Long-term goals should be substantially greater than short-term goals and can be charted for even five, ten, or twenty years away. Short-term goals are stepping stones towards achieving these long-term goals and should be attainable in a period of weeks to a year. Ask yourself…
- Does your goal have a fixed time-frame?
- When will you start working toward this goal?
- When will you hope to have reached this goal?
- How does this deadline influence your daily activities?
Another smart way to set goals and figure out “Now What” is to ask yourself the same questions that many of us learned to use back in high school English class when we were writing themes and stories, questions such as…
- Who benefits the most from me achieving this goal?
- Who can help me achieve it?
- Who else believes in me and my ability to reach this goal?
- Who else is or should be involved?
- Who will support me?
- Who won’t support me?
- What did I learn during this last year?
- What do I need to learn this year?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- What excites me about the coming year?
- What is hindering me from achieving my goals?
- What is my biggest passion and dream in life?
- What is my first step?
- What one wildly bold goal would I like to accomplish that would truly inspire me to get up each morning?
- What scares me about the coming year?
- What skills do I you need to acquire and master in order to reach this goal?
- What tools and resources do I need?
- What will be my biggest obstacle?
- What will success look like?
- When can I find the time to do whatever it takes to reach this goal?
- When will I know that I have reached this goal?
- When would be a realistic time for me to have reached this goal?
- Where are some places where I can find other people with similar goals?
- Where do I want to be this time next year?
- Where will I acquire the necessary knowledge?
- Where will my goal be accomplished?
- Where will this take place?
- Why am I going to do this in the first place?
- Why am I willing to invest time, energy, and money in doing this?
- Why is achieving this goal so important to me?
- How can achieving this goal make everything else I am doing better?
- How will I benefit from reaching this goal?
- How will I integrate this new goal with with everything else I have going on?
- How will I market this idea or product?
- How will I stay focused?
- How will this be different one year from now?
- How will this goal be achieved?