A vision, (goal, objective) without action is a daydream; an action without vision, (goal, objective), is a nightmare.
The start of the new year seems to be filled with a plethora of posts and articles regarding resolutions, goal setting, intentions, etc., and I really debated on whether to add one more of those posts. Yet I just couldn’t help myself when I was reminded this week that according to Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, only three percent of people he polled for his research wrote their goals down, but of those three percent, ninety-seven percent achieved their goals or better.
So why is that? I think that it is true for three reasons: First, when we write things down we are actually sending a message to our brain that the goal is now concrete and not just an idea in our head. Second, when we write things down we actually free up space in our heads for creativity and innovation….Sort of like defragmenting your computer’s hard drive. Lastly, when we write goals down we are allowing ourselves the methodology of Ready/Aim/Fire” as opposed to tackling our goals ad hoc by “Ready/Fire/Aim”. Therefore, when writing goals down, I believe that the following “4 P’s” are crucial:
Make it Personal: It is important to set goals because you want to reach them; they need to be meaningful and valuable for you and not driven by someone else’s agenda.
Make it Positive and in the Present: Goals are far more effective and sustainable when they are worded in the positive and the present. For example, go for “I have 3 new coffee/information meetings scheduled this week” as opposed to “I will have 3 new coffee/information meetings scheduled this week”.
Put, (write) them down: This is the hardest point to follow through on with consistency however, it is the biggest secret to success. In writing your goals down in the positive and present, they become concrete and this encourages your brain to “buy in” and support your goal to materialize.
I recognize that the concept of SMART goals is nothing new and that for years, many people have written about their importance and value in reaching successful outcomes. That said, I would like to introduce one more element to goal setting so that SMART goals become SMART-T goals. When setting goals, be sure they are:
S = SPECIFIC Be very clear and detailed about what your goal is. When goals are too general we aren’t able to visualize them, and if we can’t see them, we have a hard time devoting our efforts toward reaching them. For example, we would not attempt to build a house without specific plans.
M = MEASURABLE Make sure that you can measure the success of your goal, and of all the little steps it takes to achieve it. If we can’t measure a goal, we have no idea how close we are to reaching it, and that can be de-motivating.
A = ATTAINABLE We sometimes think that we should set high targets or goals for ourselves in order to grow and stretch. Well, we do want to grow and stretch, but if we set goals that aren’t manageable, we soon get discouraged and we stop trying. Instead, set goals you know you can reach with a little stretching, and when you get there, set another incremental goal ~ climb the mountain one step at a time.
R = RELEVANT Goals need personal meaningful importance or they will easily be discarded. Set goals that are relevant to you and that are your voice, not driven by another’s agenda.
T = TIMED Set a deadline for your goals. Have an end date for the final goal, in addition to dates for all of the smaller goals that comprise the larger one. Deadlines are great for getting things done. The dates may change and are not set in stone, but having them will hold you accountable to putting forth effort.
T=TRACK This element is very important. Share your goal(s) with colleagues, friends, family, mentors or career coach in order to stay “honest” and accountable. If you are like me, deadlines and check-ins are great motivators to accomplishment. Choose one or two people to check in with once a week to share how you are doing with your goals, brainstorm solutions to any obstacles, acknowledge your achievements and champion you along.
Keep them visible: Keep your goals where you can see them often to maintain the visual impression of what you are striving for.
Celebrate your accomplishments: Celebrated goals can be large or small, long term or short term but it is important to acknowledge your wins and recognize your progress.