Can a ship reach its port without compass? Can a runner win the race with out a finish line?….The great Jim Rhone said it perfectly. If where we want to go in life is our destination, then our goals are our direction. When used correctly, goal-setting can be a powerful and life guiding tool. For me, the moment I started actively goal setting, my life started changing for the better. Goals are what give our energy focus and keep us on track when we wander astray. Whether it be fitness, financial, or personal development, goals align our thoughts and give them direction.
However, the problem I find with goal setting, is that people simply don’t know where to start. Setting goals can seem intimidating and daunting, but the reality is they are quite simple. All you need is some motivation, and a little bit of direction.
1) Theme Your Year
This one has become an annual ritual for me and is one of the most important steps to goal setting. But before creating a theme for your year, you must analyze what the previous year was like for you. Think critically and ask yourself a some questions. These may include questions like, “What did I accomplish this year?” and “What can I improve on?”
Next, visualize what that year looks like for you. Try to be as specific as possible. Create your theme using words that will reprsent your year. Try and use action words as they are more likely to inspire you to action when you see them.
Tip: Use words like explore, inspire, or execute. Or any action word that resonates with you.
2) Write them down & put them in a visible place.
Gail Mathews, PhD at Dominican University did an extensive study on the effects of writing down goals. She discovered that those who set their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not. Until you’ve written down your goals, they are just thoughts. By writing down your goals and having them visible, you are much more likely to hold yourself accountable and achieve them. When writing them down, try and quiet your mind and really think about what goals you want to accomplish in the next year, or whatever time constraints you have.
Tip: Put your written goals on your bathroom mirror or someplace where you see them every day. (I.e., bathroom or bedroom)
3) Make your goals measurable and give yourself deadlines.
To truly measure the outcome of your goal, you need an objective measurement. Whether it’s a number, or simple yes or no, you need to know whether you actually hit the goal or not. Having a quantifiable number is also beneficial in when re-calibrating your goals. If you are unable to complete your goal, you can see how far off you are, and adjust your time management and effort.
Tip: Instead of writing “I want to get fit”, try writing “I want to lose 10 pounds by November” or “I want to run a marathon by the end of the year.” You either do it, or you don’t.
4) Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself.
Pick goals that take some effort. Pick goals where failure might actually be an option. If your goals scare you a bit, then great! These types of goals are where you really grow and find out more about yourself as a person.
Tip: Use the 10% rule. This one isn’t clinical, but its something I use. Try and set a goal that is 10% more than what you initially set. It may seem like a small thing, but having that extra push to attain your goal, will push you further outside your comfort zone.
5) JUST GO!!
Don’t be afraid to start. Obviously put deep thought into your goals, but not TOO much. It’s real easy to spend countless hours thinking about how to improve without actually doing any improvement. Its called paralysis by analysis. Avoid procrastination and choose action over inaction. This this is not a passive process, it takes effort and trial and error. But if you keep at it, your goal setting strategies will improve over time.
Tip: Set an action deadline for yourself and hold yourself accountable to that deadline.
So what’s next?…
Set aside some quiet time, grab a pen and paper, and start writing. Goals are not just for New Years resolutions. They are our life’s compass. Just like you and I, our goals are constantly evolving. We will succeed at some, and will fail at others. And thats OK!!… Often times you learn more in those failure, then you do in success. Just start writing them down and start working towards them…Your destination awaits!!