Goal setting is as important in personal life as it is in business.
The most common denominator in all the self-help literature and books is the importance of goal setting. We’re told to set long-term goals, short-term goals, lifetime goals and personal goals.
The benefits of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results orientated, Time-framed (S.M.A.R.T) goals have been written about in self-help books for years. So, it follows that goal setting is obviously a powerful process.
It is about ‘eating the elephant, one bite at a time’ and of turning vision into achievable, actionable things. It’s the common denominator of successful individuals and businesses.
Despite their obvious value, our experience with goals have shown that some are good at setting goals and sticking to them, achieving great results and others can’t keep a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking for two days in a row.
Failure to set goals can be seen as a fear of failure. That is, the blow to our integrity when we don’t reach our goals. When we make and keep commitments, such as setting and achieving goals, it reflects the amount of trust we have in ourselves. We increase our confidence in ourselves to make and keep commitments to others and ourselves. However, when we don’t achieve our goals we lose confidence in our ability to make and keep commitments and to trust ourselves.
There are many reasons why we don’t achieve our goals. Sometimes the goals we set are unrealistic. New Year’s resolutions are typical examples. Suddenly, we expect to change the way we eat, or the way we exercise just because the calendar changes. It’s like expecting a child that’s never ridden a bike to suddenly jump on and go, or to run a marathon without months of training. These goals are based on illusion with little regard to natural growth. You must be able to crawl before you walk.
So, how do we set and achieve goals? Stephen R. Covey says it best in his book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal might look something like the following:
My goal is to maintain a healthy body.
I can be fit to do the things I enjoy.
I can be an example to my children in health management.
I can build my personal character strength.
Good Nutrition. I will increase my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and decrease my intake of sugar, fats, salt and red meat.
Physical. I will exercise aerobically 3 times a week for 30-minute periods.
Focus. I will be aware of my body and look out for any health problems.
Focusing on the smaller, short-term goals and achieving success will give you the confidence to set other goals. So, remember, set your goals based on the S.M.A.R.T. principle to have the best chance of achieving your goals.