By DeAnn Kamp, Realtor®
Like many people at this time of year, you’ve probably been spending a good amount of time reflecting on this last year’s progress and thinking about what you’d like to achieve in the coming year. Even if you’ve never been one for resolutions, it is generally a good idea to make a list of goals you want to achieve. Smart goals often include a blend of personal and professional hopes and ambitions and are helpful in clarifying your priorities for the coming year.
So, what makes for a good goal? What is the best way to approach opportunities for action and change? Using the ten tips below will help you set smart, life-changing goals.
SET THE MOOD
1. Begin with a positive and confident frame of mind.
Put yourself in the right frame of mind before goal setting. Different people do this in different ways; do what is best for putting you in a good mood. Whether it be working out, going to your favorite work space, read an inspiring book and/or reviewing recent successful projects or wins, do something that will open your mind up to think creatively and confidently about the future and what is possible for you.
2. Remove feelings and make goals neutral.
Remove feelings, such as ‘should’ from your goals. You are less likely to succeed in achieving goals fueled by feelings of guilt or shame. By removing emotional reactions from any goal – personal or business – you can develop a game plan with a clear and open mind. By reframing goals, and stating what you want to accomplish instead of what you feel badly for not having done already, you are much likelier to achieve them.
3. Don’t settle for small goals, set goals that inspire you.
To begin the sometimes daunting task of setting a smart goal, write a one-page, year-long vision statement containing very specific, inspiring goals for the top three to four areas of your life on which you want to focus on for the year. When writing your vision statement don’t be afraid to choose things that make you smile, goals that are thrilling to think about achieving. This level of inspiration is necessary to stay on track to executing your vision over the course of the entire year.
4. Consider the many facets of your life.
While setting goals, it is recommended to consider your true priorities. “To Do” lists can get really long, and what makes it to the top doesn’t always mean it matters the most. Take a few minutes to consider your major goals in the most important parts of your life. Consider the 5 P’s (Parenting, Partnership, Personal, Pay and Professional), and focus on your goals in each of these areas.
5. Set guidelines not rules.
Don’t create hard and fast rules when making an action plan to achieve your goals. All too often people abandon goals because they set a steadfast rule that is too tempting to break. Rules, by nature, are meant to be broken. A quickly broken rule and the subsequent fall out can be all the reason someone needs to say farewell to a goal. Instead, consider adopting guidelines or policies. For example, instead of saying “no frivolous purchases” soften it too “if I want to buy something frivolous, I will wait 48 hours. If I still want it after 48 hours, I can buy it.”
6. Set a goal and then scale it back by 20%.
Once you identify a goal and set an action plan, it is time to assign a way to measure your success. Once you have determined metrics for measurement, scale it all back by 20%–particularly if you are an overachiever. For example, if your goal is to be totally debt free by year-end and you have a considerable amount of debt, scale your goal back to “decrease debt by 80%”. If an action step to your fitness goal is to go to the gym 5 times a week and you currently go zero times, readjust to a more realistic number like 2-3 times. People can get energized and excited at the beginning of the goal setting process only to lose steam when they feel it’s more of a burden or an obligation. For most people, it is best to set the bar slightly lower, exceed your expectations and get addicted to the success smaller goals create. If your goals are too ambitious, not achieving your expectations can be dispiriting. There’s always room to make goals bigger and broader, which can feel empowering.
7. Make sure your goals “Line Up.”
Take a long look at your own internal value system to determine if your priorities line up properly. Are the goals you are working for in line with your deepest held values? Are you being who you want to be, doing what you always wanted to do? It is important to be honest while doing this exercise.
8. Consider your resistance to change and your level of readiness.
Evaluate your goals from the perspective of your readiness for change. Sometimes we write out and articulate goals based on what we feel we should do, and don’t consider our real desire to make it happen. It’s important to be realistic with yourself about where you are in wanting to really take necessary action to reach certain goals.
9. Determine what you will STOP doing.
If you’re setting a goal that involves doing a new activity (saving more money, going to the gym, learning something new) determine what you’re going to STOP doing in order to make time for achieving your goal. For example, “I’m going to STOP impulse buying; I’m going to STOP browsing Facebook for so long during the day.”
10. If necessary, sweeten your reward.
If you’re trying to take on a new goal/activity that you find less-than-exciting but necessary, find a way to sweeten the deal as a way to convince yourself to do it. Having that little extra incentive is sometimes all it takes to get you over the hump and the energy or focus required to achieve your goal.
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