We all strive for a better future. Most of us have heard of the infamous Harvard story about the 97% of students who did not write down their goals and 3% who did were more successful than the other 97% combined. Goal setting can be powerful if done properly. Here are the top 10 ways that you can improve the goal setting process and realization of your dreams:
1. CLARITY THROUGH CONTRAST
Having trouble figuring out what you want? How about starting off with what you don’t want. This is easy for most people. Draw a line down a piece of paper. On the left side write down absolutely everything that you are frustrated with in your life. Keep venting and writing everything that comes to your mind. Maybe you are unhappy with your health, business, finances, relationships, where you live, the people in your life. Be sure to write out in details everything it is that you don’t want. Then simply write the opposite of what you don’t want in the right hand column in a positive statement.
For example say you want to quite smoking then write: I want to breathe fresh air into my lungs everyday. Say you dislike working 50 hours a week in a job you hate, change that to: I want a job that inspires me and makes time stop for me and energizes me. You get the idea. After you’ve written down all the things that you want – take great satisfaction in scratching out all the things that you don’t want and circle the things that you want. Then pick the top 5 things you want and use that for the starting point of your goal setting process.
2. SET SMART-Y GOALS
Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely…yes, yes, yes. It’s important to define goals, however some can start off being specific and morph into something bigger and better than what we could have ever imagined. Metrics are important so progress can be tracked as we move along. Realistic goals are good, but why not set goals that make our palms sweat a little? The best goals are the ones that stir our souls and get us excited. Timely goals are important, but if you miss your mark, don’t sweat it, keep moving forward. Sometimes we give in if we don’t achieve our goals within an exact timeframe, but sometimes we just need to let our goals develop organically. We cannot be too attached to outcomes. Y is for WHY. In my opinion this is the most important part of goal setting. We don’t do things because we set SMART goals, we do things for a compelling reason that drives us. Before embarking on any goal ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Is this goal for me, my spouse, my parents or my friends? Why is this so important to me? What will it mean to me if I accomplish this? Tie in as much meaning as possible and you will propel yourself towards achievement. With the WHY you will go beyond what is “realistic” and what was once specific can grow into something you never thought possible. So always start with the WHY.
3. ALIGN WITH YOUR VALUES
What makes you happy? Take a look at your five happiest days… What did these days have in common? If you were to make a happiness cake, what ingredients would you use? Each day has elements that make up ingredients that are repeatable. For example: say your happiest days are filled with sunshine, family, adventure, friends and sports, how can you recreate these days in your life by replicating these happiness ingredients? What makes you happy is often your core value. So given the example above one could assume that family, adventure, friendship and health could be your core values.
4. BUILD UPON YOUR STRENGTHS
Why focus on improving weaknesses? By focusing on our strengths we can create exponential results in our lives. Strengths based leadership is a powerful tool to use in any organization. The masters of this philosophy, Tom Rath and Marcus Buckingham, wrote the book Strengths 2.0 which I highly recommend. It will guide you through a 150 question online survey and then spit out a strengths based personalized profile that will give you ideas to build your career path and set better goals.
5. IDENTIFY YOUR PASSIONS
What gives you energy? What do you love to do? What did your parents love to do? What did you love to do as a child?
These questions may give you some insight into your true passions. Imagine a day filled with pure celebration and joy… What activities fill this day? Our passions energize us. Time stops and we seem to have unlimited energy. We glow with positivity, laugh, have fun and want the day to go on and on. When we set goals that are aligned with your passions you will be in a state of flow. You will effortlessly realize your dreams and achieve more than you ever thought possible.
6. OBSTACLES AND HABITS
Once you’ve clarified goals. Take some time to think about the obstacles you may face upon achieving these goals. How can you overcome these obstacles. Perhaps you’re trying to eat healthy and an obstacle is your family who likes to eat unhealthy meals. You can prepare for this by having an authentic conversation with your family and asking them to support you in your goal of eating healthy. If you want to see how successful anyone is, simply look at their habits. 90% of our day to day actions are driven by our habits. If you want to achieve a life changing goal, you must identify the bad habits that you need to stop and the good habits that you need to incorporate into your life. These new habits need be ingrained on a daily basis for at least one month before they will become a natural part of your daily rhythm.
This is the combination of emotion and visualization. To visualize something is to dream. When you add emotion to that dream you speed up the process of attracting it into your life. This is the secret to the law of attraction. Create a definite desire and then believe it’s possible. When you add feeling and emotion to any goal you influence your sub-conscious and as a result apply more of your brain power, creativity, and energy towards the achievement of that goal. An easy way to add emotion is to visualize how you will feel upon completing that goal. What feelings come up for you?
8. APPEAL TO YOUR SENSES
Upon visualizing your goals, ask yourself: ”While I’m working towards and completing my goals what will it look like, smell like, taste like, sound like and feel like?” Play to the sense that appeals to you most. Some of us are visual, others are experiential, emotional and some are auditory. If you are visual describe what your goal will look like in vivid details upon completion.
9. STEP INTO YOUR VISION
Life map / Affirmations / Vision Board. Whether you are auditory, visual, experiential or emotional there are tools which will help you emotionalize your goals on a regular basis and keep you in a positive frame of mind. There are so many negative influences in our society today and we truly need to protect our mindset from this negativity. A life map is a script that can be recorded over some audio and played as you fall asleep at night or while you’re driving or working out. Affirmations can be posted on your bathroom mirror and announced each morning with pride after brushing your teeth. A vision board or vision book can be crafted from digital or magazine images which visually represent your goals. A great online tool for vision boards is Pinterest. All these tools can be reviewed on a daily basis and will give you a spark of inspiration as you move towards your dreams.
10. WEEKLY ACCOUNTABILITY AND INSPIRATION
Often we are the first people to let ourselves down. However if you have an external source that is holding you accountable, then you will be more likely to succeed. Accountability partners can be an invaluable resource to bounce ideas off of, to hold you to your overall vision, and keep you on a track towards your immediate goals. Find someone who you can share your weekly action items with and set a time each week to meet in person / over Skype / or on the phone. Then review last week’s progress and go over your next week’s goals. This will allow you to focus and report back to your successes and challenges.