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How to Set Goals: 10 Steps to Stay Focused

How to Set Goals: 10 Steps to Stay Focused

For most people, creating goals is easy! The execution and application is the struggle. As Diana Scharf Hunt says, “Goals are just dreams with a deadline!” Everyone has dreams, but successful people turn them into goals that they accomplish. In order to ensure you reach the finish line with your goals achieved, here are 10 steps to help you move from dreamer to doer.

1. Utilize the SMART Goal Approach

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle

SMART goals have been utilized for years, because they work. Make sure your goals are:

Specific:

A specific goal will usually answer the five Ws (What, Why, Who, Where, and Which). Writing specific objectives fleshes out your goal so you can easily identify what you want to accomplish.

Measurable:

If your goal isn’t measurable, there will be no way to know if you’re making progress. You need to address the question, “How will I know when this is accomplished?”

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Attainable:

Your goal must be something that you can realistically attain. I would love to fly like a bird by jumping off a cliff with no parachute, but gravity would have the last word in that interaction. However, learning to jump off a cliff with a hang glider is more realistic.

Relevant:

If your goal doesn’t mean anything to you, then it isn’t worth pursuing. Tie your goals to your deeper values to give them more meaning. Make sure you are behind the goal 100% so you stay motivated to achieve it.

Time Bound:

You need to have a deadline. Otherwise it’s just a dream that never becomes reality. Putting down a deadline makes you more committed to bringing it to fruition.

2. Write your goals down and display them!

I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I write and I understand.” – Chinese Proverb

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A large portion of your goal is already accomplished as soon as you write it down. A study showed that among people who wrote down their goals with actionable commitments that they put into weekly progress reports and shared with friends, 76% accomplished them. This is in comparison to a control group who were just asked to think about their goals. In this group, only 43% accomplished their objectives. Writing down your goals makes them real; they are tangible words on paper, not an ethereal dream in your mind.

3. Break big goals into smaller ones!

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    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

    It’s the same for big goals! Break them down into manageable weekly and daily actionable bites. If you don’t, you can sometimes lose motivation if the goal seems far away or too big to accomplish.

    4. Make an action plan and follow it!

    If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

    The best gift you can give yourself is a well thought-out action plan. Take time to organize all of your smaller daily and weekly goals in one place so you can easily check your progress or send it to others to hold you accountable.

    5. Do your goals as early in the day as possible!

    The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years.” – Thomas Jefferson

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    If you study successful people, you will find that most of the time they do more before the sun rises than the rest of the world does in a day. Get your goals done first thing in the morning to feel like you’ve started your day right. That way, you will always find time to do them.

    6. Tell others your goals to keep you accountable!

    Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Steven R. Covey

    When you know someone is going to check your progress, it lights a fire under you to follow through. Find a good friend or mentor who will take on the role of motivator and occasional butt-kicker. You will come to value this service immensely when you see your efficiency and effectiveness improve.

    7. Make sure your goals excite you!

    “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” – Albert Einstein

    Your goals should be a source of joy in your life. They should be one of the main reasons you get out of bed in the morning. If your goals don’t excite you, then you need to re-evaluate them.

    8. Use positive language in your goals!

    “The major reason for setting a goal is for what it makes of you to accomplish it. What it makes of you will always be the far greater value than what you get.” – Jim Rohn

    Setting and accomplishing your goals changes you. You become a positive person who is more excited about life. Make sure your goals reflect this. Don’t say, “My goal is not to mess up today.” Instead your goal could say, “My goal is to excel today in my career by doing X, Y, and Z.” Do you see the language difference? No one can get passionate about going through the day trying to avoid something negative. Instead, turn it around so you spend your day chasing and catching success.

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    9. Set goals in multiple life areas!

    “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” – Michelangelo

    Don’t just reserve your goals for your career. You should challenge yourself to set fitness goals, finance goals, family goals, relationships goals, educational goals, spiritual goals, health goals, and adventure goals. Every area of your life that you value should have a goal to help you improve upon it.

    10. Set performance vs. outcome goals!

    “The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.” – Jim Rohn

    Many things are outside your control. For example, you may have an adventure goal to climb Mount Everest. You follow an action plan and train daily. You reach the moment when you are ready to ascend the mountain’s icy slopes with your team. Suddenly, a huge storm turns you back. The weather was out of your sphere of influence. You met all of your performance goals. Just because the outcome didn’t happen this time does not mean you failed. You were prepared. Life just happened and you weren’t able to climb the mountain – this time. However, regardless of the outcome, you became the person who could climb your mountain should life open the door. That’s the deeper endeavor. When you set your goals, don’t say, “My goal is to climb Mt. Everest by January 2014.” Instead, say, “My goal is to be completely prepared to climb Mt. Everest by January 2014, and to do all that is within my power to reach the top.” The first goal is only attainable if everything works in your favor. The second goal is completely attainable, as it depends solely on you.

    “In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.” – Henry David Thoreau

    So what are you aiming for? If your answer is nothing, then you probably won’t like what you get out of this life. Instead of simply drifting along reacting to what life brings you, take proactive steps to go out and create the future you want. While we can’t control everything that happens to us, we can control ourselves by following goals that bring out our passion for life.

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2018

    Do You Have to Give Everything Up to Get a Fresh Start?

    Do You Have to Give Everything Up to Get a Fresh Start?

    There is a common belief that when you want to embark or start on something new, whether it be a project, a hobby, a job or some big life change, a certain sacrifice must be made. “Out with the old, and in with the new” as they say. It’s almost as if we’re not capable of handling more than what we already have unless we let go of something. But is that really always the case?

    When I was young, I took up violin lessons. I enjoyed playing the violin, but when I saw a friend playing the guitar, I got interested in that and wanted to start playing the guitar. My parents however, insisted that I continue with violin lessons and felt I should give my full attention to one instrument, rather than a few; they didn’t believe in being a Jack of all trades. And so sadly, I never got to take up guitar lessons.

    Afraid of Giving it Up?

    Have you found yourself in a similar circumstance? Perhaps you’re at a crossroad right now, and you’re trying to decide on whether to stay on in your current job, or move on to something completely different.

    You’re not truly doing something you love or are passionate about, and so you want to make that change… but it’s a risky plunge.

    You’re going to have to sacrifice everything that you’ve worked for over the years. You’re going to have to say goodbye to that big salary, the benefits that comes with the job, and you’re going to have to adjust to the changes.

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    Thinking of all that is already detering you from stepping out to take that plunge, isn’t it?

    Or maybe you have many responsibilities in life and little time for yourself. You have a spouse and children to take care of, maybe you’ve even got aging parents to think of.

    At work, you’ve got subordinates waiting on you for advice. As a leader, you have to manage the team. You’ve got conference calls in different time zones to take, business trips to make, decisions to execute.

    You have a lot on your plate, and you wish you could just set aside some time to enjoy the pleasures in life. Golf more, take the kids out more, go on vacations more.

    Sure, if you wanted all that time, you could take on a lower paying job that would require less of your time. But that would mean a big pay cut and less comfort in your life. If not, you’ll just have to wait till retirement.

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    Play It Safe and Regret It Later

    In these situations, it usually feels like an all or nothing approach. And, it then becomes the ‘smart’ thing to just ignore the challenge and stay put. Unless you’re overly confident that things are going to work out, or that you have a back up plan in place, most people never truly dare to take on new opportunities after a certain age or stage in life for fear of losing out, falling behind or having to give up whatever it is that they’ve already accomplished thus far.

    But this is also where many individuals end up feeling regret much later on in life, perhaps as they approach retirement and have a sense of unfulfillment. There is an emptiness or a lack that they start feeling because they never answered their ‘calling’ or satisfied their heart’s desires. You may end up feeling short changed and unhappy with how things have turned out.

    Most people end up feeling more bitter over the regrets of not having done or tried something, rather than in the mistakes they made when they tried something. It’s always the ‘what ifs’ that will go on to haunt you.

    No Sacrifice Needed!

    The good news is, you don’t actually have to make such a big sacrifice when it comes to change! You can carry on with your existing way of life, your job or your responsibilities while changing or doing something new.

    It’s really not that hard because everything that you do in life, whether it’s your career, relationships or even health, are driven by 7 Cornerstone Skills. These are 7 qualities that if you have them, can make you excel at anything. And we already have most, if not all, of these 7 Cornerstone Skills; we just don’t always know how to use them to the best of our abilities.

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    Unfortunately, some of us may not even know the importance of these Cornerstone Skills, and how just sharpening one skill can significantly improve the wellbeing of your life.

    If you’re that busy professional with far too much on your plate, thinking there’s nothing you can do to lighten the weight so that you can breathe a little and have time to enjoy life, then think again.

    Because I can show you some proven techniques that will improve your Focus significantly, and the way you manage your Time. You’ll end up investing in more time, than spending time unnecessarily, thus giving you the ability to enjoy some of that time for yourself.

    By learning to Learn again, you’ll be able to grasp knowledge a lot quicker, allowing you to manage your responsibilities in a smart manner.

    These are just 3 of the 7 Cornerstone Skills that I’ve mentioned. By harnessing the potential of all 7, you will realize that if you truly want to achieve a certain goal or ambition, you need not worry about having to trade off a certain aspect of your life.  Instead, you’ll be able to work around things, or improve things even faster because of the skills that you’ve now enhanced from understanding how these 7 Cornerstone Skills work together.

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    Making a life improvement, career switch or new goal pursuit can easily happen without risky trade-offs once you know how to harness your Cornerstone Skills into your existing life.

    Ready to learn more about the 7 Cornerstone Skills and find out why they’re so important? Subscribe to our newsletter today and begin making that change you’ve been wanting to, without sacrifices!

    Featured photo credit: Martha Dominguez de Gouveia via unsplash.com

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