Giving Ourselves the Tools to Accomplish Our Goals
Having well-defined goals gives us the focus we need to achieve our dreams; without that focus, living the lives we are capable of — a Theory of 5 life — is a near impossibility. Last month, we discussed the tangible benefits of setting goals as a way of mapping our life’s journey. Some of these benefits include:
Giving us daily focus on the actions and behaviors we need to succeed
Giving us a tool to more easily overcome procrastination
Giving us a framework for our time management needs
Giving us a sense of daily purpose and vision
These are the “whys” of goals. This month let’s examine some of the “hows” of goal setting.
I first became aware of the idea of “S.M.A.R.T.” goals when I worked with the Saturn Corporation and, since then, I’ve heard it used by several trainers, teachers and coaches. It has become a widespread philosophy because of one simple reason: It works.
In this concept, goals have five components:
Specific — Goals are detailed (“Five pounds off by the end of the month” rather than “lose weight”)
Measurable — Vague goals are hard to gauge; our goals should have some quantifiable element so we can determine how we are doing
Achievable — The goal must be something we can actually realize, but should also be a stretch so we can maintain the energy necessary to accomplish something worthwhile
Relevant — Our goal should have an impact on our lives, and feed into our daily purpose and vision; we should be better for having accomplished it
Timely — There should be a deadline on accomplishing this goal (“by the end of the month” rather than “someday”)
The strength of a S.M.A.R.T. goal is that it forces us to think specifically about what we’re trying to accomplish. Instead of a vague idea, a fully analyzed goal presents as a plan, with the steps necessary to achieve that plan clearly defined.
For example, say you want to lose weight. It’s a common desire, but most people fall short because “losing weight” isn’t much of a goal. It’s a wish and wishes rarely come true without work.
Apply S.M.A.R.T. thinking, however, and a plan starts to form:
How much do I want to lose? Ten pounds.
Can I measure this? Yes — the bathroom scale doesn’t lie.
Is this achievable? Certainly, but I’ll have to watch what I eat, how much I eat, and get physically active to burn calories and increase muscle tone.
Is this relevant to my life? Absolutely. I’ll feel better — both physically and mentally — and have more energy to accomplish the other tasks that will move my life forward.
When do I want to have this done? In six weeks, so I need to get started now.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals not only gives us the vision of what we want to accomplish but marks the path we’ll take to get us there.
Accomplishing our goals takes consistent action and the development of positive daily, weekly and monthly habits. When the everyday world clamors for our attention, however, it’s easy to delay the work we need for tomorrow’s goals because we need that energy to meet today’s challenges.
This is a mistake. Our goals are too important to set aside, because they’ll allow us to live a better, more productive, more fulfilling life. We need constant reminders of our targets. Hiding our goals in the pages of a journal won’t bring them to life. We must confront ourselves regularly to make our goals a reality.
My mentors have taught me to place written goals in places I’ll see every day. Some of these places might be the bathroom mirror, a post-it on my computer monitor, a note on the dash of my car or any other place that I know I’ll see it. When we do this, we’re challenging ourselves.
Are you up to the challenge?
If you’re committed to living a Theory of 5 life, the answer is “yes.”
Having Others Challenge Us
Keeping our goals to ourselves gives us an “out” if the going gets rough and our determination lags. When we share our goals with mentors and trusted friends, however, it’s much harder to give up. Because we know they want the best for us, slacking on our efforts to reach our ambitions isn’t only letting ourselves down — we’re letting them down, as well.
When we have external pressure added to our own internal pressure, we’ll generate extra inspiration, motivation and passion for those times when our energy lags. Used properly, peer pressure isn’t a negative thing; we want people we respect to be proud of us, and we’ll go that extra mile to earn it.
Make It Happen
The differences between a dream and a goal are simple: A dream is a wish, while achieving a goal requires planning and effort. We can accomplish what we set out to do, but we can only accomplish this through work, positive habits and clearly defined goals. By using the above tools, we give ourselves the best chance of hitting these goals, thereby making our dreams come true.