A vision, (goal, objective) without action is a daydream; an action without vision, (goal, objective), is a nightmare.
According to Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, one of the best ways to leverage your time and energy is to set clear, concise and visible goals. He states that only 3% of people he polled wrote their goals down, but of those 3% that wrote them down, 97% achieved or exceeded their expectations. This is due to several factors including:
(1) 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. (2) 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. (3) 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”.
When creating successful goals, keep them visible as a constant reminder of what you are striving for. Also for the best success, goals need to be SMART(T).
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 getting 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. The really high achievers in the world know this. They set goals that they know they can reach with a little stretching, and when they get there, they set another goal they know they can reach. They climb the mountain one foot at a time.
R = RELEVANT Goals need personal meaningful importance or they will easily be discarded. Set goals that make sense to you. (Another word that is often used for the R in this acronym is Realistic.)
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 Share your goal(s) with colleagues, friends, family, mentors or coach in order to be held accountable and stay on track. Have this person check in with you at least once a week to see how you are making out.
Lastly, the most important point is that as you achieve your goals, celebrate your wins and reward yourself for a job well done.