A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

6 Keys for Making Goals Work

Everyone and his dog knows if you want to accomplish anything you need to have some goals. You can just walk through the self-help section of the bookstore and you pick up on this. However, there is more to setting goals than just saying we are going to set some goals. We need to do some very practical things to make goals actually work for us. 

  1. Set goals, not wishes
  2. Set goals that are attainable
  3. Set goals that stretch your limits
  4. Write them down
  5. Review them daily
  6. Attach a plan to your goals

1. Set goals, not wishes
Some people think they have goals when actually all they have are wishes. “I want to travel more” is not a goal, it’s a wish. “I want to take my kids to all 50 states over the next 5 years” is a goal. It is a goal because it is measurable. You know when you have achieved it. It also has a deadline. 

2. Set goals that are attainable
If you are like me, you need to set some goals that you can attain. They give you a sense of accomplishment. They give you something to celebrate. They give you a boost to keep going with your other goals. However, don’t only set attainable goals. That leads us to #3.
 
3. Set goals that stretch your limits
At a lunch with Dan Miller, he encouraged me to set goals I wasn’t sure I could accomplish. After all, if I only ever set goals I can easily accomplish, then I never find my limits. More importantly, I never stretch my limits. If I reach for the stars, I may not actually touch one, but I will definitely reach new heights. If I only ever reach for the street lights, I won’t get very far.
 
4. Write them down
Writing goals down makes them real. There is something about having thought through the goal and then putting it on a piece of paper that really brings it home. In fact, I would suggest, for most people, until you have goals written down, you don’t really have goals at all.  
 
5. Review them daily
Don’t write them down and then drop them in a drawer somewhere. Look at them every day. Measure your progress. Ask yourself what you did to move yourself closer to these goals today. What do you have planned to move yourself closer to your goals tomorrow.
 
6. Attach a plan to your goals
Most goals worth having are not merely a one step process. Take the goal mentioned above about traveling to all 50 states. If that were actually a goal of mine, I would need to set out a time line. To meet this goal I could travel to 10 states each year. I need to consider finances and plan how to underwrite these travels. This is going to mandate some smaller goals like savings goals. Let’s say I determine this will cost me $5,000/year. I will have to establish a plan for coming up with those funds. You see the point. I can’t just say, “I’m going to take my kids to all 50 states over the next five years” without developing a plan. This gets us back to the daily review. I need to consider each day if I have followed the plan and measure how well I’m doing at attaining the goal. 
 
Why We Struggle with Goals
If you’re like me at all, you may have some problems with goals. You like to think about them. You like to say you have them, but you keep putting of the 6 keys above. Why? Usually it is an unreasonable fear of failure. If we never actually set a goal, then we never have to admit it if we didn’t attain the goal. Let’s fix this mindset for a moment. As you can see from key #3, the goal of goals is not necessarily to make sure you succeed at accomplishing all your goals. 
 
The goal of goals is to push you to do your absolute best. Someone may set a goal to lose 50 lbs over the next two years. At the end of two years, they may have only lost 40 lbs. Are they a failure? Absolutely not. Okay, they didn’t actually achieve their goal. However, if they hadn’t set the goal and worked hard to attain it, do you think they would have lost 40 lbs? Of course not. This goal accomplished its purpose. It made them work at losing weight. 
 
So, don’t look at goals as merely about accomplishing those goals. Look at goals as a means to drive your farther than you would have gone. Therefore, the only time we actually fail is when we don’t make any goals at all and therefore don’t make any progress.
 
What are your goals?
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October 2, 2008 - Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, goals, Success | , , , ,

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