Goal Setting - A Guide for the Procrastinator
A Goal Starts with an Idea
Setting Goals - First you need to define them
Goal setting often comes up around the holidays, especially in anticipation of New Year's Day, the annual benchmark for making New Year resolutions. But resolutions and goals are not the same thing, although they are closely aligned. A goal is a stated intention for reaching a specific target. A resolution is your resolve to get there. We've all made New Year resolutions and we've all broken them.
Goal setting is a key component of the process of business planning. This article aims to help you come up with goals that are appropriate to you, and to help you keep the resolutions to achieve those goals.
Brain Storming - Your First Step to Setting the Right Goals
It makes little sense to come up with a bunch of goals only to discover later that they are not important to you. Think of a goal as a personal possession; it's yours and yours alone. Or it may be a family goal that you and your family can share. A great idea, if not an essential idea, is to work with your spouse, partner or close friend when coming up with a finite list of goals that you want to achieve. Someone close to you will help you to set the right goals because they know who you are, and can make invaluable suggestions.
Brain Storming Rules
There are only two simple rules for brain storming. First, just write down anything that pops into your head. DO NOT EDIT YOUR IDEAS at this point. If you think of creating a guppie fish tank farm. write it down without evaluating the idea. Set a time limit, say 10 minutes, and write down anything that pops into your head or is suggested by your brain-storming partner. Second, edit the ideas only after you have written them down, crossing off those that are not important. Go over the remaining list until you have come up with goals that are meaningful to you. A great way to do this is to use the SMART principle of goal setting as discussed in the next paragraph.
The SMART Principle
Nobody knows who invented the SMART Principle acronym for goal setting. It has been written about extensively in articles and books. It is a timeless idea for a reason: it works. Every goal should be guided by these principles. Follow them and you have a goal or set of goals that can have a powerful impact on your life. Every goal should be:
· Specific. "I want to improve my cardiovascular health." This is NOT specific. A better goal would be: "I will bring my resting pulse rate down to 60 beats per minute. According to the Mayo Clinic, a health heart rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-rate/AN01906
· Measureable. the above example of a heart rate goal shows how a measureable goal is a good one.
· Achievable. Again, using the heart rate example, you can come up with an achievable goal. Obviously this is something that you should discuss with a physician. A goal of, say, 40 beats per minute may be fine for a professional athlete, but may by beyond your ability.
· Realistic. A goal isn't an intellectual exercise; it is a target that exists in the real world. If you come up with an unrealistic goal, such as 40 heart beats a minute, you may be thwarted before you start.
· Timed. So you want your resting heart rate to be 60 per minute. By when? Without a time target you really don't have a goal.
So there you have the classic outline of the SMART Principle. Over the years another addition to the acronym has caught on, one that doesn't work very well syntactically, but does work very well in setting goals. It is the word Challenging. If you have set a goal about which you can't be excited, your chances of getting there are low.
Now that we've discussed brain storming and using the SMART Principle, it's time to look at some areas of your life where you want to set goals. My purpose here is to help you in your brainstorming and defining your goals. This list is suggestive only, but will help you to get started.
Categories of Goals
Before you begin your brain storming, you may want to peruse this list of goal setting categories to help stimulate your noggin to come up with some good SMART worthy goals.
· Fitness. Think of some reasonable exercise goals
· Diet. If ever the SMART principle works, it's here.
· Mental health - Meditation or other mind improving exercises
· Personal development. "I want to lose my New York accent." Okay, how?
· Giving to others. Set goals through your house of worship, community organization or just by yourself.
Using the SMART Principle, come up with some specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and timed goals to forward you business. Your business may consist of a lot of employees, or just you as a freelance writer. "I want to expand my customer or client base" doesn't cut it. Be SMART and see just how you can expand your base by a certain time.
In our technology driven universe, many of us constantly say things to ourselves such as: I want to learn Wordpress; I want to be more active on Twitter or Facebook; I want to learn how to use email marketing. Sound familiar? We do this all the time. Using the goal setting techniques in this article, these musing can finally become actions.
Family goals. "I want our family to have more fun this year" is not SMART. "I will plan at least one outing a month that we can all enjoy together." Now you're talking. This is one of the reasons that your partner should be in on your brain storming when you begin your goal setting journey.
Intellectual goals. Have you longed to write Haiku poetry? Do you hear yourself saying, "someday I'm going to read Jane Austen's books." "One of these days I'm going to take a memory improvement course." "I really want to learn how to speak Spanish." We think these thoughts all the time. Hey, I just realized that I've never read Dostoevsky, only about him. I just got a new goal! Goal setting and the life of the mind go together. Stop musing, set some goals.
The most important thing about goal setting is that it is fun. It's just plain enjoyable to work at a goal and getting there. It's also a natural cure for procrastinating. How many times have you sat down at your desk and said "Okay, what shall I do first?" With a list of exciting goals you won't have that luxury. You will be off on your journey of life.
Parts of this article were excerpted from The Apt Principle: The Business Plan That You Carry in Your Head by Russell F. Moran
Copyright © 2012 by Russell F. Moran