If you want to achieve a goal, the first and most important thing to do is to ensure it’s the right one! Here are some guidelines to help you to identify and set a goal that’s achievable.
“All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind.”
One of the keys to being able to achieve a goal, lies in the process of correct goal setting at the outset. One of the major reasons people fail is because of the inappropriate goals they set.
I suggest that you need a goal that:
- Is realistic
If your goal is to become a singer but you’re tone deaf, that’s probably not going to work. If you want to become a millionaire by the time you’re 20 years old and you’re currently 19, it will be an uphill struggle! Your goal needs to be set within the realms of what is realistically, possible.
Setting a goal that’s way beyond your reach will set you up for failure because you won’t believe you can achieve it, and therefore you won’t! That will consequently undermine your confidence and affect your motivation.
- Is based on your desires, values, beliefs, and interests.
Desire can be a great motivational force in our lives if combined with other factors such as values, beliefs and interest. If you feel something is of value, you believe you can achieve it and you have a keen interest in it, then you’ll work harder to attain it.
If it goes against your values, beliefs or interests however, you’ll have problems.
Although it may sound unlikely, if money is the greatest motivation in your life you may well be tempted to take on something that you believe will make your millions for you – even though the other factors would suggest it’s a bad idea! Chances are that at some point down the line you will regret a decision made purely on financial gain.
- Is clear and unambiguous
Many people fail because they were not clear when they wrote their goal. It’s no good stating merely that you’re going to start a business – detail is important.
You need also to state whether you plan to do it alone or with a business partner; if it’s to be a garage or a coffee shop, whether you plan to rent business premises or work from home; have products or work on the internet etc. etc.
The fact that there’s ambiguity will make it very difficult to home in to anything in order to even get started. If you don’t know what you’re aiming at it’s difficult to know when you’ve hit it! In fact, because you haven’t set yourself clear goals or deadlines, you’re more than likely to procrastinate as you have no clear vision and no clear tasks.
- Is specific and measurable
If your goal is not specific and you can’t measure it – how will you know when you’ve achieved it? If you say, ‘have customers in my business by March’ – you could well have two, but is that what you meant?
If you say ‘have 50 regular customers by the end of March 2009’, that’s both specific and measurable.
- Is challenging and realistic.
Take into account both your strengths and weaknesses when setting your goals, By all means challenge yourself – that’s what life’s for! But recognize that setting goals which require skills far beyond your capabilities is unrealistic and unrewarding.
- Is written down.
This makes it more real and shows your commitment – not just to others but to yourself. Include everything – the goal, the steps, the practical tasks – It’s your proof and your guide to what you’re planning to achieve. It will help you keep check on your progress.
- Also has short-term, interim goals, if appropriate.
Many goals will not be quickly achieved and may have many stages. Therefore, set smaller, interim goals (milestones) that will lead you to the ultimate goal. This will keep you motivated as you reach each of the smaller targets. It will also keep your interest and enthusiasm going as you see the progress being made towards your ultimate goal.
- Has a start and completion date.
The problem with many goals is that they’re just set. Without a starting point so that you can prepare and identify a timescale, and with no completion date, the project just drags on and on. Tomorrow will do – or the day after that – but it never comes because there’s no sense of urgency.
- Has action steps
Every goal needs some action steps. A goal is just a dream or a desire until you DO something. Therefore, a goal without ACTION is pointless.
In fact, you’re likely to tend towards procrastination because you haven’t set yourself any deadlines, so you have nothing to work towards.
- Is flexible
Achieving a goal, like life, is rarely straightforward. Though you think you may be able to take a direct route, you end up in cul-de-sacs, dead ends, one way streets and holes in the road which you have to navigate. Be prepared to make changes when necessary.
- Be accountable to others
If you keep your goal to yourself then it is more likely to NOT happen. If you let others know about it, then your chances of success go up. If you agree to explain to others the progress, or lack of progress, then there is even more chances you will succeed. For many this it part of what a coach can do for them.
You should review progress on a regular basis and you may need to modify your goals along the way. What you think is possible at the outset might not be, or you might want to change in the light of what you discover on your journey.
One powerful strategy is to visualise yourself achieving your goal, to see that success and to see how your life changes as a result. If you can see it and feel what it’s like, it will change your attitude towards the goal. You’ll believe you can achieve it and work with much more motivation towards it.
Things can go wrong, you can lose your way, you can find obstacles you can’t overcome, and you can become disillusioned. Work out why these things have happened and work out how you will overcome them. If you need help, hire a coach. This is someone who can help you to fathom out the next steps, someone who’s prepared to listen and to help you to find the best strategy for you.
Don’t forget, however much you want to achieve a goal, most don’t happen overnight. They’re the result of a deep desire and a small amount of consistent action over a period of time.