With the new year upon us it’s time to think about our goals for the next twelve months. Instead of the usual list, I would like to present a different approach to goal setting that may help you be more successful in your pursuit.
Here are five simple action steps that you can take today to make your dreams come true. Goal setting should be fun, so find a comfortable quiet place and spend a few minutes and do at least one right now.
1. Set Time Aside: The first step in setting a goal is to design in some time in your coming year when you can actually take action to complete your goal. I suggest you find a block of time during your usual workday that you can set aside for just this purpose.
If you are a morning person, find time early in the day. If you like to stay up late at night, carve out some time in your evening. Aim for an hour of uninterrupted time. This may mean giving up some TV or getting up an hour early, but if you really want to be successful, time is a must. Do not go to step two until you have determined a time block you are willing to set aside.
2. Paint the Big Picture: Visualize in your mind completing your goal. Picture the book you are publishing or the marathon you are running in. See yourself on the scale twenty pounds lighter. Whatever your goal is you need to experience it with all five senses in your mind. You want to hear the roar of the crowd, taste the wine, feel the rush of excitement, smell the fresh air flowing in your face, all the while seeing the finish line coming at you.
It’s helpful to have printed pictures of others who have gone before you and been successful. If a marathon is your goal, cut or print out pictures of others crossing the finish line, if a book is your goal, create a mockup with your title, for weight loss, find pictures of actual people who have had success. Once you vividly experience yourself achieving the goal in your mind, you can move on to the next step.
3. Choose the Words and Write Them Down: Popular social-media expert, Chris Brogan, has a great technique for goal setting that is real helpful. He chooses one word that describes each goal. The word needs to be big enough to encompass the entire process, not just the action. I think this is a great way to keep your goals fresh in your mind.
Just take the vivid picture that you painted in step two and set aside a word or word combination that has meaning to you. Then take a card or sheet of paper and write it down in bold letters. You may have to do a little experimenting to find a word that is all encompassing. For example, “Run” might be a word that works for a marathon, but “Finish-Line” is stronger and more encompassing. The word “Chapter” might work for writing a book, but “Blockbuster” would be more motivating.
Underneath your main word you can write down two or three action words that describe the steps to complete your goal. But the main thing is to come up with ONE word that works for you and WRITE IT DOWN. The act of writing it down will cement it in your mind and you’ll have a quick point of reference. Don’t go on to the next step until you have your word where you can see it in bold letters, written down on a card or sheet of paper.
4. Give Yourself a Deadline: Goals without deadlines are just dreams. The secret to successfully achieving your goals is to set deadlines and milestones, but allowing yourself to be flexible enough that the unavoidable time conflict doesn’t ruin your effort.
Some goals naturally come with a deadline, such as a marathon. You sign up for a marathon and it is run on a certain day. End of story. Writing a book is a different event altogether. With creative endeavors you may not have a true idea how long something will take.
This is the power of setting time blocks. Your “goal” is to write for a certain time period a day. As you progress, it will become apparent for example that you are completing a chapter a week. This will give you an idea of the completion date. You need to be very diligent about your time block, but flexible on the end date.
Here is a common New Year goal that many people will have trouble with…
I want to read through the bible in a year.
The accompanying literature has the daily chapters that you need to read every day to accomplish the goal. The problem here is the end date is fixed and you have no buffer days. If you miss a day of reading you have to read twice as long the next day to catch up. Instead of 15 minutes you now have to spend 30. If you miss three days it’s 45 minutes etc.
The one thing I can guarantee is that there will be days during the year that you will be sick, or some type of emergency will come up. Goals like this are so inflexible that people soon have to miss a few days and then give up because they do not have the larger time block to catch up.
Setting a goal that has a time block will be much more successful.
I will set aside 15 minutes a day to read my bible during the next year.
In this case if you miss a few days, you can just start back up and continue from where you left off.
Common deadline time periods that work well are one year, twelve weeks, and weekly. A common technique is to schedule an end date earlier than the true end date. For example, if I am doing a presentation on the 10th, I’ll set my deadline a week earlier on the 3rd. If something comes up I have a 7 day buffer. This reduces stress and allows for the inevitable conflict or delay.
On your goal card, write down a realistic deadline for your goal underneath the word(s) that you chose above. Allow buffer time. Underneath the deadline, write down the time block you will use to accomplish this.
5. Bring In a Mentor: The real success I’ve found in goal setting is to develop a mentor. Someone who has accomplished the goal you are striving for. They have been there and done that.
While it is best that this is a real person, it can also be a book or program. For example, let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds. You can join a gym and hire a personal trainer. While this may be somewhat expensive, your chance of success has really increased because you have someone training you and holding you accountable.
You can do a similar thing by buying the book, Body for Life, and following the 12 week program. You can sign up online and connect with others in the same program to hold you accountable.
If you are writing a book, a personal editor will be very helpful, but for less money you can join a writers group, where everyone critiques each others work.
To complete your card, write down the name of a mentor that can help you achieve your goal underneath the time block you wrote above. Someone that is willing to hold you accountable. If it is a program or organization, write that name down.
Finishing Up: Now you should have a goal card with a meaningful word at the top, a realistic deadline underneath, the time block you will use to achieve it, and a mentor to hold you accountable.
Put this card where you can see it. You now have completed one written goal for the new year. Be sure to touch base with your mentor and keep the word picture in your mind.
Realistically you can have up to three of these cards at one time. Just be sure that the time blocks are doable and do not overlap.
Insuring Success: To help you with your goal, try using the Power of 48 Minutes technique. This is a simple single tasking exercise.
Here is how you do it…
Set a timer for 48 minutes. Close out all distractions (e-mail, web etc) and work continuously for 48 minutes. When the timer goes off, get up and stretch, get coffee, use the restroom etc, in the following 12 minutes. Repeat as necessary.
We also have the following downloadable tools that may help…
Good luck with your goal setting activities!