Here’s what my desk looks like: A good portion of it is taken up by a large Mac computer. To the left sits a three-tiered stand for papers and folders. Cushioned between them is a bowl that holds lots of tiny paper binders, jumbo paper clips, my favorite eraser, and a half-full bottle of pale pink nail polish, while in back is an old ceramic mustard jar stuffed with pens and pencils. On both sides of the desk are various-sized note pads. On each of the smaller pads are lists detailing my goals for the days or weeks to come, oftentimes broken down by morning, afternoon, or day of the week. My objective is to cross out what has been completed, which gives me an enormous sense accomplishment. It also signifies that I am getting things done. On the larger pads are my longer-term goals, which have great significance and are meant to reshape my life in ways that are important to who I am becoming and where I am going in my life. These goals are broken down into doable parts that keep me motivated and moving forward…not overwhelmed.
Yes, I am an unabashedly goal-oriented person. I love listing my goals, using the lists, and discarding the lists. They create order and prevent me from feeling like I am slogging around getting nowhere fast. And during those times that I am overwhelmed with responsibilities and deadlines, they provide a sense of control, as they help me to focus and see things more clearly.
“The most important thing about goals is having one.” ~Geoffry F. Abert
Why Set Goals?
In the simplest terms, having goals enables us to focus and concentrate our energies on specific, targeted items that will impact our lives in positive ways. Keep in mind that goals can be short term or long term. Both keep us moving forward.
• Goals give us something specific to aim towards
• Goals help keep us motivated
• Goals help us to determine our priorities
• Goals provide a vital framework to get us from here to there
• Goals help us to focus our time and efforts
A Few Examples of Goals
• to find space for me in my life
• to find a fulfilling career
• to improve a personal relationship
• to remove the toxic people from my life
• to travel to a new place
• to learn somethiny new every day
“The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach.” ~ Benjamin Mays
So you are thinking, “Well great. I need goals. I get that. But how the heck do I go about figuring out what they are and what do I do once I determine what they are?”
The SMART Goal Model
This great model is based on the concept that goals should be SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, RELEVANT, AND TIME-SPECIFIC, hence SMART.
Specific The goals you choose should state clearly what it is you want to accomplish.
• What exactly is your goal?
• Why is this goal important to you?
• Who will you be when you reach this goal?
Measurable This is the ability to measure your progress along the way.
If your progress can’t be measured, you can’t tell if you are working towards your goal. For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds, you might decide that you need to lose 2 pounds a week. Or if you are writing a book, perhaps you decide that you will write a chapter every 3 weeks. These smaller goals are doable stepping stones towards your ultimate goal.
Attainable In order for a goal to be attainable, it has to be something that you can accomplish.
If you choose a goal that is too far out of your reach, it will be very hard to stay committed to it even though you start out with enthusiasm and the best of intentions. The purpose of a goal is to stretch you within reason. For example, having the goal of losing 10 pounds a week is not achievable, but the goal of losing 1 to 3 pounds a week is.
Relevant The goal is important enough to you to make it a priority in your life.
• What difference will this goal make in your life?
• What are you willing to give up to make this happen?
• How important is it to reach this goal on a scale of 1 to 10?
Time-Specific Every goal needs a deadline.
Creating a timeframe by which to accomplish a goal gives you a target to work towards. Otherwise there will be no sense of urgency to get the goal accomplished. One of the most important things about a goal is to get working on it NOW.
Consider this: without goals life simply happens to us, but with them we make life happen.
Deborah Mintcheff is a certified life coach at LiveForwardCoaching. If you assistance in defining the goals in your life or achieving them, contact Deborah at 212.879.0383 or e-mail her at email@example.com and change your life.