It’s really important to have an effective goal setting plan in place if you want to create the life and business of your dreams. Part of the process is having written goals, and most people don’t commit their goals to writing.
Research shows that those who write their goals rather than not are more likely to achieve them. Even more than that, those who developed action plans and shared their goals, action commitments and weekly progress reports with a supportive friend made even more progress.
What constitutes a good goal? I think using the SMART acronym is a terrific guide. SMART puts a structure to your goal and gives you focus. Here are the SMART criteria.
S = Specific. The more specific you are with your goals the better. Your goals need to well defined and understood by others involved in project.
M = Measurable. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. That does not mean that measures have to be in dollars. If your goal is not measurable, however, it’s actually an aspiration, a good idea or perhaps a hallucination. How will you know if you have succeeded at your goal if you can’t measure it?
A = Achievable and Actionable. When you begin setting goals, you learn a lot about goal setting and about yourself. Goals that seem like they “stretch” you too much initially seem perfectly reasonable shortly thereafter. Stretch goals engender commitment, activate energetic responses, stimulate the generation of creative action steps and “close the exit doors” on excuses. Make sure that “achievable” becomes more challenging over time. You could add another “A” to that idea with Ambitious. Be sure you are using an action verb when writing the goal.
R = Realistic and Relevant. Realistic is the first cousin of achievable. You need to consider conditions in your market and your life. You also need to consider if you have the knowledge, resources, or time necessary.
T = Time-bound. You need a target date for your goals. Unless you attach a time frame, it is likely you won’t reach the goal.
Sample SMART Goals
Not SMART: Sell more art in galleries
SMART: Obtain representation in five galleries for my art by June 10, 2017, by connecting and following up with gallery owners and artist reps on a weekly basis.
Not SMART: Lose weight in the new year
SMART: Lose 10 pounds by April 15 by eliminating sugar from my diet and exercising three times a week.
Other Goal-Setting Tips
Do not go overboard with setting too many goals. Five to seven goals are sufficient. Too many goals and you can lose focus or become overwhelmed.
Write the goals down. I like to use goal cards that I can review on a daily basis.
Track your progress. When you look at your goals on a regular basis, ask yourself what the next action step is. This helps you create tasks to move you towards accomplishing your goals.
Connect your goals to your why and to your values. You are more likely to accomplish your goals if you do.
Here’s a story from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll that relates to goal setting.
“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”
Have you set aside time to work on your goals for next year? Do you have written goals? What has your experience been with goal setting? Add your comment below or on the ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.