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Part 4: Making Your Goals SMART

December 27, 2010

****This is an 8 part series about goals setting, developing goals, and how to achieve them that I will post every Monday in December and most of January. Click here to read part 1part 2, or part 3.

Now you have your list of potential goals, but how realistic are they? It is wonderful to say that you want to travel more, but it is a very big goal that really has no tangible parts. It is more of a wish. Creating goals that are SMART or Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, and Timely are the best way to take and an idea and turn it into a realistic goal.

When you start to go the list that you made last week use each of these following steps to make your goals actionable.

Specific: Think yourself what is it that you actually want to achieve? If you want to travel more break it down. Maybe it could be taking a trip to Brazil during Carnival. Or if you are making career goals and you see that you want to make decisions faster try making it more specific. How will you make decisions faster? Maybe you really want to make faster decisions by spending less time analyzing issues. Whatever the goal is turn it into an actionable goal that has very specific parts. It should be broad enough to  leave you guessing about what it is that you are actually trying to believe.

Measurable: Visualize what success will look like. How will you know when the goal is reached? If you want to travel to Brazil the measurable part is actually getting there. However if you want to make decisions faster how would you know when that happens? Maybe you have made quick decisions without thinking 3 or 4 times. Maybe instead of taking a week to make a decision it only takes a day. Maybe you have learned to delegate parts of your job so that you get the info you need twice as fast. Whatever the goal there should be achievements that need to be reached in order to complete the goal.

Achievable: The reason most goals fail is because they are so big that they aren’t achievable. Wanting to save the world is wonderful, but how are you going to do it? This step is about breaking down the goal into smaller parts. if the goal is to travel more break it down into smaller more achievable but challenging steps. For example if you haven’t traveled before maybe the fist step should be travel in a nearby state or somewhere easy to get some traveling under your belt. Than make a goal to learn a few phrases in Portuguese . The next step would be get a passport and find out what Visas you may need. After that figure out how much you will need and try to save and make a goal to put away a money certain amount a month. Breaking down a big goals into smaller more realistic parts makes them more manageable and easier to accomplish.

Realistic: I hate to burst your bubble, but if you know nothing about business you will never be CEO of Nordstroms in the next 2 years. You wont single handily cure world hunger.  Chances are slim that you will be the youngest president ever. Your goals need to be realistic. Make sure that they are challenging enough to push you out of your comfort zone, but don’t mistake challenging for unrealistic.

Timely: One of the things that is often forgotten when setting goals is a time frame. This is important for two reasons. First if you set time limits for yourself it is sometimes helpful when reaching your goal. So if you are trying to get a promotion set up a time frame for yourself. If you want to be the manager of your division, but are currently an assistant make a road map. Set a goal that you want to be an associate in 3 years and the manager in 7. How will you get there? Maybe you will find 3 new clients a month. Increase your sales by 50% in 3 months. Get put on a special account by the end of the year. By breaking down the goals and setting a time frame it mentally motivates you to work on achieving your goal.

The second thing that you have to keep in mind is making goals realistic in a time frame. Are you creating a 35 things to do by the time you are 35 or 101 things in 1001 days or maybe it is just goals for the year? Think about your goals and about how long it will take to accomplish. If you want to get your master’s degree by the time you are 35 it is realistic if you are 25 but not if you are 34 and just starting your education.

Where are you on your goal setting? What obstacles do you usually find when you are goal setting? What works for you when creating goals?

Read part 5

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