By: Dr.Gwen Smith
Planning and setting goals have been long recognized as a way to be effective in what you are doing. Lack of a clear understanding of the goal-planning process has left some frustrated and short of achieving what they are aiming for. This article will give some basics on goal setting which when consistently applied will significantly improve your productivity and help you to achieve some of the things you have been working at for perhaps a few years now. Let’s get right to it:
First, in writing your goals it is important to remember the acronym: SMART (specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant and time-bound). Let’s look at each one.
Specific—goals should address a specific task
Measurable—you should be able to measure and know when you have achieved the goal
Action-Oriented—you MUST have action steps associated with your goals
Relevant—goals should relate to your overarching aim and to your passions.
Time-Bound—goals should have a time-frame for completion so you know the amount of time you will take
Now let’s look at an example:
What do you want to achieve in your life? Is it something that you have tried consistently without seeing the results you desired? For example, you may want to introduce a health goal for yourself, which will involve several different activities. So, you ask yourself what it is that you are trying to achieve. Your goal may be to become healthier. Does “healthier” have a measure? Can you measure healthier? No, however, there are other evidences or results that you can utilize as measures of a healthier lifestyle that can help you identify if you are reaching your goals. For example: exercising, reducing overweight, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy meals, etc.
None of these are specific enough, or measurable, so let’s look at the steps we need to take for the weight loss example..
“So, now we are going to write these goals as SMART goals. First you set a weight loss goal, let’s say 60 pounds. That is specific and measurable: you want to lose weight and you should weigh 60 pounds less. The Action-oriented will come in the next step. Ensuring that those action steps are aligned with the goals you have set for your life and passions is incredibly important to your success and makes it relevant to what you’ve set out to achieve.
Assuming your goal is relevant to your overall desires, you’ll need to make it time-bound. In what time-frame do you want to lose this weight? Maybe you want to do it over 12 months. This will mean that you want to lose 5 pounds per month (60 divided by12).
However, you haven’t said how this is going to be done. This is the spot where most people begin to fall off the cart. Doing random sets of behaviors will more than likely not get you the results you want to achieve and will frustrate your efforts.
This is where you’ll do some research or brainstorming to come up with the methods or actions that you are going to take to get you to the 60 pounds at the end of the year. Setting action steps that have no relevance to your goals and to what you are setting out to do is counterproductive to your intent.These are strategies that will help you to know and to keep track of how you are progressing. Here is a FREE template that you can download to guide your strategy planning.
Once you create your strategies, each and everyone one should never be left to chance for you to remember. Chunking down your action steps into daily actions to give you consistent results over each month can help you keep track to see whether or not your weight loss goals are on track.
Put the actions you’ll take in a structure or calendar system and check it everyday so you never have to commit it to memory. This is the final nail that’s driven into the coffin of failure in achieving your goals. People just simply don’t have the reminders, or they ignore this step altogether. Listed and possibly placed in your structure or calendar will more likely ensure that you’ll take the necessary actions to achieve your goals.
A digital reminder, connected to your phone is best to help jog your memory. So action is much more possible when your activity is scheduled.
It’s now time to assess the results of your actions, to see if you are meeting your weekly goal of losing 5 pounds. You don’t want to wait until the entire year is over to discover it. As you check each week, you’ll see whether or not you’ll need to adjust any actions to help you stay on target. Don’t forget to celebrate your success. Decide in advance what you will do to celebrate. Ideas can range from buying yourself something you’ve always wanted to taking a special time-out alone or with a friend.
Now let’s summarize this with a practical example so you can see how it works. You set a yearlong goal that you would like to lose 60 pounds. Now you’ll need to break the goals down into monthly goals. So you want to lose about 5 pounds per month and then further 1 pound per week on average.
So now, you will have to identify the activities that you will be doing in order to achieve this goal. We identified a few before, and one of them is exercising. So our goal for exercising would be to walk (the action that we have selected) five days a week for 30 minutes, and to strength train (another action we selected) two days a week for 15 minutes each day, weighing in at the end of each week to see if you have lost the 1 pound. Are you one pound lighter? If not, reassess and examine what needs to change. Adjust and measure again the second week and adjust again as necessary.
This keeps you in the game of winning at your goals all year long.
For a detailed outline with several examples, as well as tools to help you overcome hurdles to your success, this book was written to support your sucess. You can learn more about it here:
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