Remember when we used to be frequent flyers, jetting here and there for business and pleasure? I remember one such trip; I lumbered down the aisle, carry-on baggage in hand, and found my seat. I buckled in and grabbed my boarding pass, planning to stuff it in my pocket. That’s when it struck me…. a boarding pass represents much of the information needed to set effective, personal goals.
The boarding pass contained my name, “where I am now” and “where I am going”. It listed my boarding and departure date and time, my boarding group number, my seat number, and other valuable information.
You might say that living without properly set personal goals is a lot like walking through the airport, intent on flying somewhere but having no boarding pass.
The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help that story by setting goals.
If you feel like you are wandering through life without the proper direction, there’s hope! People who take the time to explicitly set goals and resolutions are ten times more likely to attain them than those who don’t make the effort.
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.
You may be thinking, “But goal setting can be so intimidating. How do I get started?” I’ve written about the first two steps in the process here:
- Pause and reflect – read about the four benefits of reflecting back on the past year in preparation to advance to the next.
- Dream and ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve?” and “Whom do I want to become?”
Now it is time to look at the next step in the goal-setting process, writing down your goals.
Prepare to Write
The following three questions can help you think through and plan out your goals before you actually write them:
What do I want to happen?
What do you want to accomplish? By doing so, you need your goals to be…
- Specific – Your goals must identify exactly what you want to accomplish.
- Action – Your goals should lead to an action verb.
- Realistic – Remember you are looking for progress, not perfection. Your goals should be challenging and should stretch you. You should use common sense for the results you want to achieve.
How will I know it happened?
This is about measuring for example: “I want to lose five pounds.”
- Measurable – You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Be specific about the results you desire.
- Celebrate – You must know when you hit a goal so you can celebrate and reward yourself.
When do I want this to happen?
When is your start date and when do you want to finish by (completion date)?
- Time-Bound – A goal without a date is just a pipe-dream. Make sure that every goal has a start date and completion date because “what gets scheduled gets done”.
- Staggered Dates – Pick a couple of your goals to start in January. Then, perhaps quarterly, begin working on a couple more goals. This staggered schedule helps you intensify your focus AND prevent burn-out.
- Reviews – Regularly review progress so that you stay on course. And celebrate even the smallest milestones.
Time to Write
Literally writing down your goals is an important step. There is something that emotionally connects us to our goals when we write them down.
Fact: You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals, simply by writing them down!
Set aside time to write a goal for different aspects of your life. I evaluate and set goals for seven areas of focus. For example, I set goals concerning my health, personal growth, and spiritual life, among others.
Why don’t you get started? The hardest part of any important task is getting started. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you will be naturally motivated to continue.
The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen. –Lee Iacocca