7 Steps for Setting Brilliant & Effective Goals
Overview: Define the goal using the SMART Goals approach
- S - specific, significant, stretching
- M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
- A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
- R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
- T - tangible, timely, time-based, track-able
The goal should be clearly defined. It needs to be clearly understood by everyone who has “buy in.”
Or in other words, anyone who will be participating, overseeing and or have any kind of accountability associated with the goal.
For a goal to be significant, it must be something that means something to you. In other words, it must matter to you. If it does not matter, there will not be any drive or passion to motivate you to take action towards the fulfillment of the goal.
Some people like to debate about the "stretching" issue. They will say things like you should not set your goals too high, because if you do not accomplish them it will affect your self esteem. I would argue that how does a person really know what they can truly accomplish unless they stretch to discover their maximum potential? Many are the men and women who accomplished great things in life who fell short of what they aimed for, but it was in the reaching, the stretching of their abilities that they accomplished the great things that they did. If you aim for the stars, but only make it to the moon, how much greater is that than if you had only aimed for the mountain tops?
“Our duty as men and women is to proceed as if there were no limits to our abilities. We are collaborators in creation!"
The results of the goal reached must be able to be measured, and or are demonstrable, and easily discernable. In other words, if you have a goal to be able to run the mile in 4 minutes, you must be able to measure your progress as you practice and reach that goal,
surpassing 6 minutes, and then 5 minutes and finally reaching your goal of 4 minutes. The action steps to reach the goal and the milestones need to be clearly indicated, knowable, and can be factually agreed upon along with a feeling of agreement by everyone who is involved and overseeing the goal as well. You should also be able to know when the goal has actually been achieved.
See Significant above.
This kind of goes along with significant and Meaningful. If your goals mean something significant to you, if they really truly matter, if they are so important to you that you feel passionate, excitement everytime you anticipate working on and fulfilling the goal, then you know it is a highly motivational goal. If on the other hand, when you think about your goal, you would just as soon watch TV as work on the goal, then perhaps you need to revisit and come up with a different goal.
Achievable, Agreed upon, attainable, acceptable, action-oriented, accountable.
It is possible to achieve the goal by those who are involved in the achievement of the goal. Agreement among those involved that this is the right goal, at the right time, done in the right way, for the right reasons. (In other words, it needs to be in line with the Values, Visions, and Roles of those involved.)
There needs to be an agreement on the time line by those involved, what the action steps are and the milestones. There also needs to be a consensual agreement about who is doing what, and by when will it be done. And finally, there must be Accountability must be clear – who reports to whom by when to discuss progress, hold ups, solutions, and action steps?
Realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
Consider the resources available, time, money, personnel available. Consider the emotional commitment and enthusiasm level by those who are involved. Tangible, timely, time-based, track-able Consider if the Deadline gives enough time to achieve the goal.
Too little or too much time can affect the successful achievement of the goal. Again, the Goal must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic, along with Tangible to be a SMART GOAL.
2. Set the Deadline for the Goal to be achieved.
Some people have a hard time with setting dead lines. They tend to second guess themselves and worry about whether or not they can actually get the goal done by that time. The issue is not one of absolutely getting it done by the time specified, but rather having a target to shoot for. If you get it done before the dead line, you then have reason to celebrate. If you get it done after the dead line, you also have reason to celebrate, because you did it! You got it done, which is so much better than sitting home thinking about doing it but never getting around to pulling the trigger, to taking action. You had a target to work towards, and you got more done than you would have if you had no dead line to aim at.
3. Use lists to guide the process:
First list to create is a list of all the benefits of obtaining the goal. In other words, how and why is your life or the lives of those affected going to be better because of the realization of the goal?
You will also want to make a list of all the obstacles that slow you down from obtaining the goal. This would include any weaknesses or other situations that could possibly arise that would have an effect on your ability to realize the goal. They could be as diverse as a lack of support from a significant other, to your possible tendency to give in to procrastination, etc.
Next, make a list of what you will need to know to complete this goal. This is pretty self explanatory. If your goal is to climb to the top of Mt Everest, you may need to know how much it costs to travel to Nepal, how much does hiring a mountain guide cost? Do you need to have a special permit from local authorities? What kind of equipment do you need to invest in and have on hand for the climb? Will you need to get a medical physical examination first? Will you be required to have a passport before you go? In order to make it all happen, how much training is required? etc.
Finally, you will need to make a list of the resources, individuals and/or groups you will require access to in order to achieve the goal.
Some goals can be achieved completely by yourself. Others will require tools, information, assistance, etc.
4. Plan of Action:
To achieve the goal you will accomplish more sooner by having written out specific action steps to be taken and completed. Keep in mind this Plan of Action may be dynamic meaning as you implement your plan, new steps may be added to your plan and others dropped as you do more and learn more through your actions.
5. Make sure you include a starting date and completion date for each step.
For many it helps to have a starting and completion date for the first three steps so you are not locked up in analysis paralysis, attempting to figure out all the steps and dates and never getting started. So, set the first three, complete them and then set the next three and so forth.
6. Write down on your Plan of Action and your Deadline Date for achieving the goal.
Forward check and backward check your action steps to insure that your plan will work.
7. Do it!
This may seem like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, there are many who will plan and plan and plan, and think they are getting things done because they are planning, but they never get around to actually "doing" the action steps they created. Your action steps do not need to be perfect before you act on them. Often times, you will learn and improve and change the steps as you go along. Like the old saying goes: The journey of a million miles starts with a single step.
© Copyright Adam Wade, 2005 - 2019