You’re probably rolling your eyes at me right about now – “goal setting – come onnnn!” but bare with me for just a few. This is *really* important stuff for a lot of reasons. You need to be purposeful, you need to know what it is you are going after if you ever want to get it. You can’t be wishy-washy or timid, unsure, or waivering in any way. Thoughts (wishy-washy vs. determined) determine actions (not pursued/skipped/bailed on versus done/completed/attempted). Goals are your blueprint to change – they set the framework or the foundation.
“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives” – William James
How many of you know someone who says “I want to do …” and never gets it done? Goals are little mini action plans to making something happen. So let’s stop saying “I want to” or “I’d like to” and get into some ACTION.
I’m sure you’ve heard of SMART goals, whether applied in business or academic settings, they can also be applied to your personal goals, a valuable way to start because you can’t help but be mindful/purposeful with your goals if you follow the framework.
Let’s start with a very general goal and build it to fit the SMART criteria.
“I want to get in shape.”
Ok – great idea! But what does getting in shape mean to you? To some it may be just being able to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath, while to others it may be stepping adding in some strength training, or being able to compete in a specific event. This is why it’s important to meet the first criteria in goal setting…
Get Specific – the first criteria is that the goal must be specific, so there is no mistaking what the end result will be. Let’s change it to: “I will run a 5k race”
Measurable – how is it that you will know you’ve succeeded or that you are on the right path towards meeting your goal? The goal must be measurable in a way that allows you to determine if you are making progress towards that goal and should be stated as such. This is sort of like the “action plan” part of the goal – how are you going to do it? Is it simply the act of covering the distance or is there a time in mind? Let’s change our current goal to: “I will run a 5k race in under 40 minutes by training with the C25k program.”
Achievable/Realistic – I haven’t actually figured out the difference in these two yet (just being honest, and if YOU know – please leave a comment and share!), so I usually combine them together. This criteria is just a reality check – can you reasonably expect to reach your goal in the manner you describe? In the case of 5k goal, yes. If I had said I will complete an Ironman Triathalon …. well maybe that is achievable/realistic but not within the bounds of under 40 minutes or by training with the C25k program.
Time-Bound – your goal should be within a set period of time. You can have long-term goals and short-term goals, but all should have some sense of urgency defined by the time frame you designate. You don’t want to be floundering for years and years in pursuit of a goal. A lot of factors may influence your time frame designation, so it’s important to keep the Achievable/Realistic criteria in mind. For instance, if I’ve never run before and I say “I will run a 5k race next week in under 40 minutes by training with the C25k program” that’s probably not going to happen. Something more appropriate might be, “On December 11, 2011 I will run a 5k race in under 40 minutes by training with the C25k program.”
In many cases I’ve seen goal setting stop here, and in many cases I think that’s ok. But let’s talk about achieving or not achieving your goals…then what?
Re-evaluate! If you’ve achieved your goal, what is it that you’d like to do next? Build on that one, or try something completely new? On the other hand, what if it’s December 11, 2011 and you either didn’t run that 5k or it took you 43 minutes? Stuff happens, and not reaching a goal for any number of reasons is no reason to quit or to give up. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. If it’s something you truly want, you will re-evaluate the methods used to reach that goal, and simply reset it and try again. That’s it, simple as that. SMARTRR goals (in my head that reads like “smarter-er” ;)!
You can set smaller goals to work towards larger ones, acting like rungs of a ladder moving you closer to the top. Goals can be used to build confidence and belief in one self, make a new behavior habit, or to push the limits and improve on something.
Need some help getting some action in your life? Start here, and if you need help – I’m here.