Here’s a fail-proof process for REALIZING GOALS that Dr. Joan Pastor developed with executives at Coca-Cola as part of a time management training.
Like the new year, it’s your gift to open. Make things happen!
You are more likely to achieve goals—personal goals, business goals, life goals—by following these tips for goal setting.
1. Be sure your goals are YOUR goals
If a goal is set by you and is something you really want to achieve, the chances for success are immensely improved. You know the forces that would set goals FOR you—employee motivation, family expectations, government regulations. This does not mean you should be stubborn and refuse any advice on what your direction should be. Friends, relatives, and employers can all be helpful with ideas. But the reluctance and compromise of setting someone else’s goal for yourself will weaken your motivation to achieve it. The force within YOU will follow the course YOU set.
2. Put your goals in writing
First, writing a goal helps you clarify and develop what it is you want. The process of writing in detail helps you more carefully imagine your goal. Most of us don’t have the capacity to flesh out a goal in our heads the way we can in writing. And, by nature, thoughts fade more quickly than ink. The second reason for writing goals is to increase your personal commitment. Through writing, you bring the imagined achievement into the physical reality of language on paper (or on the computer screen). You’ve made yourself accountable to the exact goal you have in mind because you’ve made a record. And you can use this record to continually re-imagine the goal.
3. Challenging but attainable
Good goals cause you to stretch and grow. Setting ones that will require little energy will likely inspire little motivation. At the other extreme, saying you will reach impossible dreams also results in little or no motivation. Identify those goals that will require meaningful attention but that you feel you can truly achieve. Deciding if a goal is attainable is a very personal decision, but if you think you can, YOU CAN. Go after it!
4. Major goals must be compatible
Going after competing goals—where the attainment of one means short-changing the other—is an easy trap to fall into. For example, you’ve committed to a very expensive vacation AND you’d like to save toward building your dream house. Or, you want to excel in tennis and golf, but you don’t have enough leisure time to practice them both. Incompatible goals can lead you to put serious effort into several seemingly worthwhile projects and yet finish none of them. Or, worse, your divided energy produces unsatisfactory results that you’re stuck with. So, after you decide on your major goals, check them for compatibility.
5. Revision & Change
As a growing human being, your wants will be forever changing and evolving. Don’t think of your goals as carved in stone. Periodically review, update, and revise them.
6. Specific tasks, measurable achievements
You’ve written your goal; now break it down into the specific steps to its accomplishment. (Remember how one eats an elephant.) Then create a plan for measuring progress. For example, you have written a major goal to redecorate your home. Along the way, check off the individual projects—living room window treatment, kitchen floor, bedroom furniture—as each is completed. As for goals like “I want to be a better person,” follow Ben Franklin’s example. He chose one virtue at a time—forgiveness, charity, etc.—to work on. I recommend you choose a specific trait and assign a scale—0 to 4 or 1 to 10—on which to measure progress.
7. Target dates
Consider you have set your goal only after you have attached a timeline for its accomplishment. Just like the power of writing it down, the time component helps you create the goal in your physical reality. Without timetables, goals are as elusive as daydreams.
In conjunction with the process of identifying specific tasks, set target dates for each task or, as it may be called, a subgoal. In creating your schedule, allow time for figuring out unforeseen problems, errors, personnel changes, etc.
If it weren’t for the last minute …
I’m sure you have experienced the tremendous motivation of an approaching deadline. Be sure to employ this important tool for realizing every goal. It is key to motivation and commitment. Also, make the most of deserved satisfaction as you finish each task and achieve each of the subgoals. Build your sense of momentum as you increasingly visualize the achievement of your major goal.
Ever feel you are spending your time doing second things first? Well, that’s one way to make sure that your most important goals WON’T be realized. To control this tendency, list your goals (with the items on your schedule for the day, if necessary) and then rank them in order of importance.
How you set priorities is a matter of personal choice, and if one system doesn’t work, don’t give up. Try something else. Some people list their goals and then select the two or three most important. Others rank them all in order of importance.
9. Put up reminder signs
Focusing on goals can get lost when you’re busy doing something else (and you even feel good because there’s so much activity). A well-placed reminder sign can bring you back. Design a sign for your desk, the dashboard of your car (with a picture for extra impact), or, set regular reminders on your phone’s calendar—anything that works for you.
10. Goals and beyond goals
Remember your overall satisfaction with life is not ultimately driven by achievement of this year’s goals. Be formulating goals beyond the ones you are working so hard to achieve at any particular moment. With nothing further to imagine, your subconscious may sabotage final completion of a goal. We’re sometimes funny that way.