If you want to succeed, you need to set goals. Without goals, you lack focus and direction. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction; it also provides a benchmark to determine if you are actually succeeding. After all, having money in the bank is only proof of success if your goal is to create wealth and all that comes with it. However, if your real goal is make a difference in this world, the money may only be a milestone on the way to your final destination – or may not play into your life goals at all.
As mentioned earlier in the week, goal setting is a process. While it is both necessary and critical to set SMART goals, it is particularly useless if you cannot operationalize the process and incorporate it into something you will leverage for your own success. Having established the meaning and specifics behind SMART goals, let’s look at a way to operationalize the process:
1. Take the most efficient route: State each goal in one sentence – make it SMART.
The single sentence guideline forces you to be focused – stating clearly and plainly what you intend to accomplish. This clarity, right at the beginning of the goal setting process, makes it incredibly powerful. It also makes it straight-forward to check that you are meeting ALL SMART criteria within the context of the guideline.
2. Appreciate the journey: Understand WHY you have chosen specific goals
Goals, as important as they are, need to have a deeper why or they are not sustainable. There must be an engine that drives them – a commitment to something that matters. Failure to address this challenge will almost certainly result in lack of motivation and failure to attain the milestones necessary to achieve your goals. Answer this question thoroughly in your own mind and you will be motivated to follow the route to your ultimate destination.
3. What is waiting for you at your destination: List the main benefits of achieving each goal.
When you attach benefits to your goals, they become powerful motivators for change. Brainstorm the positive outcomes of each goal to exhaustion – the more benefits are associated to each goal, the more you will be motivated to accomplish it.
4. Plot the map: Detail the action steps for achieving each goal.
Here is where the rubber hits the road – note, step by detailed step, what it will take to achieve each goal. What is your level of commitment to following through on each level of detail? Consider this carefully before committing to the specific goal. Each step should be given a date and a deadline that is then placed on your calendar. As you achieve each milestone, don’t forget to celebrate! If you miss a short or mid-term milestone, make a midcourse correction and move on down the road…
5. Check your route in advance: List the potential obstacles that may inhibit your travel plans.
Most goal planning maps omit this critical step – much to the detriment of the driver. Ask yourself, “What can go wrong?” If there was nothing standing in your way, you would have accomplished this goal by now. By uncovering as many obstacles as possible early in the process, you can address them before they derail you.
6. Reroute: List the possible solutions to the obstacles of each goal.
Often, the same obstacles emerge in different forms in various areas of your life. By recognizing what these obstacles are, you can begin to design solutions or work arounds before they become an issue. Again, an exhaustive brainstorm session is in order… it will not negate the obstacles, but will allow you to think through the challenges and prepare for what is on the horizon as you move forward.
7. Alternate destinations: Realize that occasionally goals change – remain flexible.
Goal setting is an on-going process and needs to be flexible enough to allow for interesting detours and opportunities discovered along the way. Your priorities (and therefore your goals) may change as circumstances and other goals change . When this happens, it is critical to sit down and go through the goal setting process again to make sure your goals still have the personal meaning that makes you want to achieve them. If you need to change a goal, do not consider it a failure – consider it an informed detour with a course correction. The important concept is that you have the insight to realize something has changed and that you have the ability to do something about it!
Setting SMART goals, simply put, is not enough. If you are serious about arriving at your desired destination, it is important to consider your motivations and navigate through the details of your goals. If you are not committed to thoroughly plotting your course, it is likely you may not be entirely devoted to your goals and the process required to achieve them.
How committed are you to arriving at your desired destination?
I hope you learned something new to consider in your goal setting process this week. Please engage the discussion and let us know how you ensure your commitment to your goals is fulfilled. Always feel free to contact me at Sheri.Mackey@LuminosityGlobal.com or by visiting our website at www.LuminosityGlobal.com. Check back next week to find out some additional tips that will help you to arrive at your desired destination, the next installment of Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.