The vision must be followed by the venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps – we must step up the stairs. ~ Vance Havner
When it comes to getting what you want out of life, one of the best places to start is by setting goals and writing them down. Telling you to create SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound – is a common starting point for many coaching programs. While I’m not going to argue that SMART goals work, I am going to tell you that there are a few other things to take into consideration when setting goals.
Here are a few goal-setting tips to think about that may not have crossed your mind:
Is this the best goal for me at this point in my life?
Just because you can set a goal, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Consider all your possibilities before you select the topic of your goal.
One way to do this is to write out a list of 5 to 10 goals you are thinking of working on. Then go down the list asking yourself, “Which one of these goals resonates with me the most at this time?”
Pay attention to how you feel as you are answering the question. Your heart and intuition will provide the answer for you, if you let them.
What is the deadline for this goal?
The “T” in SMART goals stands for time-based, and it only makes sense that any goal you set must have a deadline of some sort. If you leave the completion date open-ended, you will not have much motivation to really achieve it.
Think about the time frame for your goal, and be clear in adding an end date to it. Using the phrase “On or before…” to start your goal statement gives you an opening to achieve it earlier than your self-imposed deadline.
Another thing to consider is how much time you want to give yourself. It is generally considered most effective to limit your goals to things you can accomplish in three months or less. If you are looking at a long-term goal, break it down into smaller steps that you can accomplish within the three-month time frame.
Could this goal have an open-ended result?
Just as you want to allow for achieving your goal in a shorter time frame, you might want to also consider achieving more than you think you can. Two examples of where it’s possible to leave an open-ended result are weight-loss goals and financial goals.
For example, when setting a weight loss goal you might include “I will lose at least…” in your statement. That way you allow for the possibility that you could lose more than the minimum. The same goes for financial goals. If your goal is to create an income of, say, $500 a week, adding “create income of at least $500” opens the door for you to receive more than what you are asking for.
What will I do to achieve this goal?
It always amazes me that people expect a goal to achieve itself, as if the act of writing it down is enough. You must take action and be willing to do what needs to be done in order to achieve the results you want.
When you are writing out your goal, be sure to include a list of specific actions you will take. Not only does this show that you are claiming responsibility for achieving your goals, it also gives you a checklist that you can use to keep track of your progress along the way.
Is achieving this goal a priority for me?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of setting a goal because you think you should, not because it is a priority for you. To achieve a goal, you must find a way to let your brain know that this goal is the number one thing that has to get done.
One way to get the message to your brain is to practice visualization. Visualize what you will feel like once you have achieved your goal. See it happening in the most ideal way you can imagine. What do you see, hear, smell, think, and feel? The more emotions and senses you can add to your vision, the more real it becomes to your brain.
A second way to let your brain know this goal is important is through repetition. Here is an exercise you can do:
Once you have set your goal, write it out 25 times. Pay attention to how you feel about it as you are writing. If you feel anything less than motivated and excited, there is some question in your mind about it. Take the time to figure out what's holding back your enthusiasm so you break through the block and move forward with confidence.
Whether you use them by themselves, or in conjunction with other methods, you will find that taking the time to ask yourself these questions, and paying attention to the answers may just give you an edge in achieving your next goal.