I was talking to a friend the other day who is a successful life coach. He was telling me about a situation where he had asked a guy what his goals were. The guy responded the way you might think, saying I want this and that, I want to retire with this money and so on. My friend asked him what is his plan to achieve these things. The man replied “no plan, I just like to dream”.
It’s important for you to know that a goal and a dream are drastically different, even though they can often seem very similar.
A dream is like a wish, it lives only in your brain. It’s something you’d like to but don’t have a plan of action or a real desire to do whatever it takes to achieve your dream. A goal, on the other hand, could be the same thing as your dream, but it resides both in your head and in your heart, driving you to do whatever it takes to achieve it. Your goal is your model, your action plan to achieve your dreams. Your dreams are still wishes without goals and they come true when goal setting is implemented. And then your dreams move from your head to your heart.
After my conversation with my friend as mentioned above, I decided to do some research and find out what people’s perceptions of dreams and goals were. After speaking with several people, I noticed a few questions and misconceptions that kept coming up. So, I decided to write an article to answer those questions.
This article serves as an introduction to the skill of setting smart goals. It was created to answer some basic questions about goal setting. And to help you start implementing goal setting in your life right away.
What is goal setting?
Goal setting is an extremely powerful practice that will bring about positive change in your life. It can help you succeed in your health, sports, education, career, business, community activity, causes, and relationships. It can help you improve any area of your life in general where you choose to implement your goal setting skills.
Mastering these basic yet powerful techniques can make a drastic positive change in your quality of life by opening your mind to what you really want from your balanced life. Positive changes in your health, wealth, relationships, spirituality, and much more are closer than you think now that you’ve taken the first steps.
Why is it so important to set goals?
Goals are your blueprint for success in any situation. Look at them like a blueprint, no great architect or builder would ever start a structure without first having a detailed blueprint for the project. If he did, he would surely fail. To end up where you want to be, you have to know where it is before you start. Without this simple principle, we are stuck, going through the motions every day because we don’t know where we want to go or how to get there. Change today, stop being stuck or going through the motions without a plan and a destination, and start setting goals.
In what areas of life should I set goals?
Remember, the areas of your life where you want to have positive change (big or small) are the areas where you need to set goals.
Health – weight loss, diet, etc…
Community – causes, volunteering, leadership, etc…
Relationships: parenting, friends, business partners, marriage, etc.
Sports: skill, training, coaching, tutoring, etc.
Education: studies, degrees, teaching, learning a new field, etc.
Faith – Spirituality
Anything worthy of positive change is worthy of a well-defined goal.
I hear people talk about short term and long term goals, what’s the difference?
-Short-term goals: Short-term goals are goals that you want to achieve within the next year. These can be individual goals or smaller steps towards some medium or long-term goals.
-Mid-term goals: Mid-term goals are goals that you want to achieve in the next 1-2 years. Again, these can be individual goals or steps toward a long-term goal.
-Long-term goals: Long-term goals are goals that you want to achieve in 2 or more years. Long-term goals are often broken down into multiple short-term goals.
First goals: How big do they need to be and what should I expect?
Anything new to us can seem like a challenge, and goal setting is no exception. When you start, it will seem like a challenge, but persevere and the challenges will soon pay off in the form of goals achieved and positive results.
Consider your first goals as a learning experience and start small. Don’t set yourself up for failure as you are just learning these new skills, but by all means challenge yourself. Growth in your personal development comes from overcoming challenges that may have previously held you back.
How do I start?
A good way to start is to ask yourself the following 5 questions. This will help engage your creative side and you will begin to see your goals take shape. Keep this part simple as it is an exercise to get your mind on the right track.
Which is my goal?
When will I reach my goal?
How will achieving my goal improve my life?
What is the first step to achieve my goal?
How will I know when I have reached my goal?
Which is my goal? My goal is to lose 10 LBS.
By when will I achieve my goal? August 20, 2009 (total time 4 months)
How will achieving my goal improve my life? I will feel better and be healthier.
What is the first step to achieve my goal? Eat healthy and start an exercise routine.
How will I know when I have reached my goal? I will weigh 190 LBS.
Let’s take a quick look at this example.
In what area of life is the goal? Health, fitness or sport.
Is it realistic? Yes, if I were to lose 75 LBS in a month, I would be a bust.
Will this person’s life be better? Yes, they will feel better and be healthier, which leads to many other positive things like self-esteem and more.
Do you have a plan? Yes, diet and exercise.
Do you have an end result? Yes, 190 pounds.
Now, as you progress in using your targeting skills, there will be a lot more detail in your target. This is just an exercise to get your mind going. When you answer these questions, write down your answers.
What is the SMART method of goal setting?
Many successful coaches teach goal setting using the SMART method. I am no exception. The SMART approach is a great tool for goal setting.
A- Focused Action
The SMART method is just one way to set goals. However, the evidence shows that goals are more often achieved when they are written in specific detail, have detailed actions to achieve them, are realistic but challenging, and have a deadline. That said, the SMART method comes into play.
Following this type of goal setting will instantly start helping other areas of self-improvement, such as time management. We will delve into those topics in future articles and lessons.
Do you have any other advice for me?
Start a goal journal. A goal journal is something tangible that your mind can relate to. Read from your journal several times a day. At least once in the morning and once before bed. Track your progress and check off goals as you reach them. Make changes to dates and details as needed. We’ll go into the goal journal in detail in another lesson.
Use index cards and carry your goals with you in your wallet, purse, briefcase, etc… This will serve as a constant reminder of why you are working, studying, exercising, eating a certain way, or whatever. This is just one way to keep you on track. Using tokens is great advice, but I’d still suggest the more detailed journal along with this.
Stay positive, read positive books, engage in positive conversations, get help with your goals if you need to. Don’t let discouragement, fear, negative environment, people or obstacles get in the way of what you really want. Persevere, learn to overcome your fears and obstacles, there are many resources to teach you and help you in this area.
Use goal setting as often as you can. Small targets with small details to large targets with great detail.
Write goals for various areas of your life. Do not limit yourself, you are great and you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Start now, go and put these ideas into practice. Start now, do it as if it were already a habit. Prepare to be the best you can be.