We all entertain different dreams and visions about our lives and what we want to accomplish with them. Most of the smaller visions are easy for us to grasp and realise, but the big dreams can sometimes seem rather intimidating and impossible to accomplish. So, rather than attempting them, we give in to discouragement.
And, this brings us to the topic of goal setting.
This is not likely the first time someone has expounded to you the benefits of setting personal goals. Most of us have been taught the power of goal setting since we were children, unfortunately, however, many people do not follow through using this powerhouse aid towards achieving success.
But, just because not everyone takes advantage of goal setting and how it speeds them to their desired end, does not diminish in any way the empowering aspects that goal setting offers us.
Truth is, one of the healthiest ways to fuel our ambition and boost our self-confidence is by setting and achieving our goals.
Goal setting is like a map. It is an external representation of what our inner desires are and gives us structure and guidance as we journey towards our objective. It breaks up larger, intimidating goals into smaller more attainable stepping stones.
Without these steps, we spend our lives running up and down or left and right but never achieve anything. In other words, without targets and milestones to reach for, nothing in our lives will change or improve.
When we set goals, we break out of autopilot and begin living life consciously. Rather than being buffeted by the "winds of change", we proactively take charge of what direction our lives are headed.
Setting goals is smart. Setting SMART goals is, well, even smarter!
SMART is an acronym that represents the specific steps one needs to take when reaching for their goal. If followed, these steps boost productivity and give clear direction towards achieving them.
Writing out our SMART goals, beginning with "specific" is an illuminating experience and helps us to "see" what we really want.
You must be clear and specific about what you want to achieve. And this is where the what, why, who, where will likely need to be defined.
What do you wish to accomplish with this goal?
Why is this goal meaningful to you?
Who needs to be involved?
Where will it take place?
What limits are in place or resources that you can turn to?
In order to keep motivation high, it is important that you track your progress. This also helps you to meet important deadlines. If your project/goal will take months to reach, set measurable milestones/specific tasks that can be accomplished along the way. Feeling the excitement of getting one step closer to your goal is a real motivator.
Measurable should also answer questions like these:
How do I know when it is accomplished?
Do you have what it takes? Do you have the tools and skills needed to reach your specific goal or will you need to develop some new ones? How about attitude? Does your attitude align with your goal?
Realistic / relevant
Let's be realistic about being real! Our goals need to represent an objective which we are both able and willing to work towards. Our goals can be termed realistic if we truly "believe" in our heart that they can be accomplished. These goals need to be relevant as well. Do they align with our overall objective?
Every goal needs to be grounded within a timeframe. When we are up against time restraints, it creates a sense of urgency and this sense of urgency is what gets us moving!
Research proves that hitting small milestones provides us a real sense of achievement and contentment and gives our motivation a real boost. A plan and set date for accomplishing something keeps our motivation healthy and buzzing while giving our excitement a healthy boost.
It's not hard to see how powerful and empowering these SMART steps can be if followed. They help clarify our ideas, focus our attention and use our time productively. And, all this leads to achieving what we want out of life.
The reality is - "A goal without a plan is just a wish …"
Goal setting isn't just about setting a plan and holding yourself accountable. It's about providing the inspiration needed to shoot for things in life we never believed possible.
Give your desires and goals the attention and time they deserve to ensure you get the most out of every moment of your life.
Remember this powerful adage: "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
Whether your goals fall into the business, personal, relationship, or health and fitness arena, it doesn't matter. Drafting and using SMART goals to define, follow, mark, and celebrate your progress is what gets you there.
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.