“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Napoleon Hill
It’s still the beginning of a new year – you have a new book with about 300 blank pages that you’re going to fill. But fill with what? Are you simply going to scribble your way, jotting a few notes here and there, or recording just the highlights as your parents may have done in your baby book? Or are you going to strive to fill every page, every day with extraordinary, sustainable success stories?
I like to believe that everyone’s ultimate vision is to lead an extraordinary life. By that I mean doing what you love and loving how you do it. The best tool I’ve found for helping you get to an extraordinary life, to have joy in your work, and of course to make the money you want to make is to set goals. Goal setting propels your vision forward. They are the things that allow you to maximize your resources: time, skills, knowledge, passion, etc. Goals are what help you make the most of your life and feel fulfilled with what you are doing.
Goals Need to be Written
When you write out your goals, you’re creating an external representation of your internal desires and reinforcing their value. Setting tangible goals allows you to break the big dreams of your vision into bite-size, achievable steps. But more importantly, goals hold you accountable. They get you out of that “if only” rut that so many of us fall into: if only I had this or if only I had that, I’d be happy. You can’t allow “shoulds” into your vision and you can’t allow “if onlys” into your goals.
Part of goal planning is becoming that person who is joyful and happy today even though you haven’t yet achieved your total vision. Goals allow you to celebrate your successes along the way. Celebrating is important. Celebrating reinforces your commitment. And more importantly, it re-patterns your brain to strive for more successes. To be effective goals should be S.M.A.R.T.
Specific – get exceptionally clear about what you are going to accomplish. The more specific you are the easier it is to accomplish a goal and celebrate it. So rather than saying I’m going to make $200,000 this year, you could say I’m going to contact 30 people in my database each week.
Measurable – set goals that you can measure. If you can’t measure it, then it isn’t specific enough. You can’t celebrate what you can’t measure and you are trying to generate feelings of success. Don’t assume because one of your goals is a feeling, i.e. I want to feel more gratitude, that it can’t be measured. It can. All you have to do is assign your feelings a scale where maybe 1 is I feel no gratitude and 5 is I feel gratitude for everything around me. Each day give yourself a number based on how you feel.
Action Oriented and Realistic – nothing gets done if you can’t take action. Make sure your goals are realistic and within your control. If you have to wait on someone else to do something before you can accomplish your goal then you’re back to relying on “if only.”
Time Sensitive – if something is going to get accomplished it must have a non-negotiable deadline. Set it and hold yourself accountable to it.
Goal Setting Process
Your vision encompasses your entire life, so your goals need to do so as well. You’ll need to balance your goals in four categories: Business, Financial, Health, and Family/Relationships. Make sure that the goals in one category are not in conflict with the goals in another.
So create a couple of short-term (3 months) and long-term (12 months) goals in each category. Next identify the top action steps you’re going to take to accomplish them. Then finally, you need to identify what you want to avoid the most – these are your away values.
Away values are the things that will cause you to self-sabotage and not achieve your goals. Examples of away values might be passivity, perfectionism, or judgement. Write these down next to your goals so you don’t lose sight of them.
I use a simple 4 step process for setting goals in each category.
- Make a commitment. No matter what you are committed to these goals.
- Identify what you really want. Not what your wife or your boss wants – what do you want?
- Recognize why you want it. Let’s say you want to make $20,000 a month – okay why? What difference does this number make in your life? Do you need to pay for a child’s college? Do you need to take care of sick parents? What is the why behind the goal?
- Create a plan in order to achieve it. Nothing gets done without an actionable plan. Writing your goals down but not taking action to accomplish them is a waste of time.
Every day I recommend that you review your goals so that they are set deep into your subconscious and conscious mind. At the same time review your away values. Were you able to keep them from interfering in the action steps you needed to take today to achieve your goal? If not, how will you keep them from interfering in the future? It is only when we are vigilant that we are able to re-pattern our brains to lead an extraordinary life and to find sustainable success.