Planning and goal-setting are the keys to success in every aspect of your life, including your career. A Harvard study revealed that 83 percent of those surveyed had no goals; 14 percent had goals, but no written plan; and 3 percent had written goals.
The 14 percent with goals but no written plans earned three times more than those with no goals. The 3 percent with written goals earned ten times more than those with no goals!
Many experts have written about the process of effectively setting goals using the S.M.A.R.T. model. The acrostic S.M.A.R.T. has a number of slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting:
S – Specific
M – Measurable / Meaningful / Motivational
A – Attainable / Assignable / Achievable / Acceptable / Action-Oriented
R – Realistic / Rewarding / Relevant / Reasonable / Results-Oriented
T – Timely Time-Based /Tangible / Tangible / Trackable
SMART Goal Setting Process
1) Write down your goal in positive terms. Break it down, make it concrete and create an implementation intention (a statement defining when and where each specific activity will be performed).
When you actually write down a goal, it is as if you are programming it into your subconscious mind and activating a whole series of mental powers that will enable you to accomplish more than you dreamed. By writing it down, you intensify your desire for the goal and increase your belief that it is possible.
2) Identify why this goal is important to you. Write down why you want this goal and how it aligns with your values. Go deep into this exercise, don’t stop with one reason. Continue drilling down by asking yourself, “So, why do I want that”… and again, “So, why do I want that”. List at least 10 reasons “why” you want this goal. Then, visualize yourself having achieved your goal.
3) Set a deadline. If it’s a large goal, set a series of sub-deadlines. A deadline acts as a “forcing system” on your subconscious mind and begins to move you toward your goal rapidly.
4) List the obstacles you will have to overcome. Think of everything that might stand in your way and decide what you can do about each obstacle. Develop a plan to reduce the influence of each obstacle and increase the chances that you will be successful in reaching your goal.
5) Make a comprehensive list of all the resources you will need to reach your goal. This may include a coach, consultant, expert, or group of people. It may include organizations, events, books, equipment, support staff, etc.
6) Share your goal with another person for accountability, help and support. However, do not share your goal with anyone who might sabotage your goal or even shed a shadow of a doubt on your initiative and goal.
7) Get into action. Pay attention to your goals and monitor your activity. The “Momentum Principle,” articulated by Sir Isaac Newton, states, “a body in motion tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.” Never let a day go by without engaging in some action that helps you move another step in the direction of what you really want in life.
8) Define a reward for achieving the goal as well as a reward for achieving the intermediary milestones required to get there.
Here’s a witty 5-minute video by Zig Ziglar where he explains his goal setting process.
Roadblocks To Watch Out For
Fear of Failure – While trial and error is usually the primary means of solving life’s problems, many people are afraid to embark on the trial because they’re afraid of experiencing the error. They believe that error is wrong and detrimental, when most of it is both helpful and essential. Error supplies the feedback that paves the way to success. The Law of Feedback states: there is no failure; there is only feedback.
Fear of Success — Fear of success can be just as paralyzing as fear of failure. Some people fear success because it tests their limits and puts them at risk in new situations. Success can expose weaknesses and force people to deal with their imperfections. Success can be scary because it involves change. Some people fear success because they’re afraid they don’t have what it takes to rise to the challenge.
Analysis Paralysis -– Analysis paralysis is where you fail to take action because you’re over thinking the details and continually running “what if” scenarios. It is a potent killer to reaching your goals. While you need to plan and do some analysis, monitor the process to see if the preparation and analysis add real value and provide the framework for action — or are they just stalling your action.
Having Too Many Goals –- While it is okay to have more than one goal, prioritize your goals and focus on just one goal at a time. When one goal is completed, you can move on to the next.
Lack of Motivation to Change — Change and goal attainment only happen when you’re ready to break the barriers and you decide you truly want something better in life. Wanting to do something and motivating yourself to actually do it are two different things. Self-motivation is the force that keeps pushing us to go on – it’s our internal drive to achieve, produce, develop, and keep moving forward. So be sure that your goals feel motivating to you … otherwise you most likely won’t be successful in achieving them.