You’ve probably been making goals for yourself your entire life, both big and small, from having a goal to make the school soccer team as a kid to a goal as an adult to travel the world. You may have even made goals for yourself without realizing it. For example, find a job, plant a vegetable garden, have dinner ready early, watch the entire series of Friends. These all count as goals because you have an end result that you are working towards.
Creating a goal is the first step to achieving a goal. I don’t know about you, but I get a warm, fuzzy feeling when I feel like I’ve accomplished something. From small tasks around the home to personal career goals, having something to work towards gives me motivation and gives me reason to continue pushing hard. If there is no end in sight, it’s easy to sometimes get lost in the process.
So how do I follow through and actually accomplish my goals? I create SMART goals. Not intelligent, per se, but using the formula first documented by George T. Doran. SMART stands for:
Be as specific as possible when creating a goal. Having a goal “to travel” can be very ambiguous. What does that even mean? Does traveling home for Christmas count? What about driving 45 minutes to the closest Target? That’s traveling.
Instead of having the vague goal “to travel”, try picking a specific location (or set of locations). For example: “I want to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina.” This way, you know exactly what your goal is and better yet, you’ll know when you’ve accomplished it.
I am a numbers person, so this is my favorite part. Find a way to measure the outcome of your goal. For example, a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, you might need to budget $4500.
Let’s look at the goal of making the school soccer team. How is that measurable? Try to put a number on it. Let’s say you decide that 40 hours of practice would have you well prepared for soccer tryouts.
This is where you decide exactly how you’re going to achieve your goal. How are you going to reach that number that you just assigned to your goal?
An example would be: “I’m going to save $4500 by putting away $375 each month.”
This is a crosscheck to make sure that both your goal and your process are realistic.
Is Argentina a realistic location? Will $4500 realistically cover all of the expenses for your trip? Can you actually save $375 each month?
It is important to put a deadline on your goal so that there is an end in sight.
Which is more likely to be fulfilled?
“I want to travel to Argentina someday.”
“I will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina in August, 2016.”
Developing your goal does not need to be done in this order, but make sure that you do use all of these techniques.
The end result for my goal to travel would look like this:
“I will travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina in August, 2016 by putting away $375 each month for a total of $4500.”
Your goals will become a lot less daunting if you map out exactly how you’re going to achieve them.
This method works great in all areas of your life. You can make financial goals, career goals, family goals and personal goals all using this same process.
What strategies do you use to achieve your goals?