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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Simple Goal Setting - One Step At A Time



With the end of the year approaching, now is a good time to think about your goals for the next year, but you can do this any time you need to get focused. First take a look at what you've achieved so far. What did you learn, what were the highs and lows?
Then think about what you would like to achieve in the coming year. Do you have one BIG goal that you would like to achieve, or perhaps three or four goals that you would like to complete next year - and no, I don't mean those New Year 'resolutions' which rapidly fade from view by about the middle of February.
I mean some specific goals that you really want to achieve next year and to which you're going to make a commitment to yourself, and preferably someone else, that you're going to do them. Perhaps you do want to give up smoking, lose weight or get fit - that's fine but give it some purpose and put a plan in place so that you can actually achieve it.
Here are a few key steps to enable you to turn your goals into reality:
  • What is your big goal or dream? Whether it's a small hill or high mountain - what do you want to change in your life? Where do you want to be - physically, mentally or emotionally - by the end of the coming year? Write your goals down and pin them up where you'll see them every day.
  • Think about what will it look and feel like to have achieved your goal. Why do you want it - what will it mean to you? How much do you really want it and what impact will it have on your life? This step is important, as if you have a solid underlying reason for doing something and can see the benefits of doing it, you're more likely to achieve it.
To make more sense of your goals, make them S.M.A.R.T. goals. If you haven't seen this acronym before - it means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Specific - don't set a goal to 'lose weight' - set a goal to lose 10lbs or if you want to get fit - set a goal to walk or run a certain distance without getting out of breath or complete a sponsored walk or run a 10k.
Measurable - give your goal a series of targets that you can measure as you go - 10lbs so you can check off each pound on a weekly basis, or if you want to save or earn a specific amount of money, or rate your goal on a scale of 1-10.
Achievable - don't decide to climb Everest if it's so way beyond your skills and ability that you're just setting yourself up for failure. Think about the time, resources and skills available. Stretch yourself but be realistic, otherwise you won't commit to it.
Relevant/Realistic - make sure your goals fit with your bigger vision for your life or business. Don't make them so easy that they're not a challenge but not so difficult that you'll never achieve them either.
Time-bound - set a date for when you plan to achieve this goal. This stops it drifting off into something indefinite and gives you a target for which to aim.
It also helps if you make yourself accountable to someone. If you tell someone else about your goal, not only will this keep you motivated but they can help to keep you on track. This could be your partner, friend, colleague, a mentor or a coach.
Now break up your big goal into smaller, more achievable steps. What information or skills do you need? Perhaps there are some additional training courses on to which you need to book yourself. Who could you talk to; what do you need to know first?
What do you need to do within the next 6-12 months towards your goal? Put a plan in place with smaller goals, actions and stepping stones along the way to help you achieve it.
  • What do you need to do this month?
  • What can you do this week?
  • What can you do today?
Now that you've set your goals, go do it!
Clare Evans is the author of a time management book. She is a personal and business coach and enables individuals and business owners to get more out of their day and make better use of their time.
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