By Dan Munro
Goal setting is a very powerful practice.
Strategic goal-setting will help you define the activities you will undertake to achieve that dream life you always wanted. You can easily plan, step-by-step, the pathway that you will walk down to achieve your ultimate lifestyle.
In order to achieve something huge, you will be most effective if you break it down into manageable steps and focus on the process. You simply cannot jump straight to the finish line.
Most people do not achieve a majority of their goals for a number of reasons. These are the problems I see time and again with my clients, staff and friends:
• They only have goals in their head and never write them down or otherwise make them “real.” This means that the goals are never clearly defined and the barriers are not planned for, so they can never figure out what went wrong if it doesn’t work out
• Their goals are too broad and do not provide any guidance on how to actually achieve them; with goals like “I will become a millionaire.” This gives the goals an intimidating quality that reduces a person’s motivation and courage.
• They are not challenging enough to cause any major life improvements. Or, there are too few of them, like “I will get a promotion sometime in the next 5 years… and maybe also buy a dog.”
Every highly successful person I know has followed a written plan of action to achieve their success. OK, actually there are a couple of people I know who have just winged it and relied on blind desire to get them through. I don’t consider them to be any less successful. However, I do wonder if they could have achieved success quicker, easier, and more enjoyably if they had tried less of a brute-force method.
You are challenged to build a structure out of blocks of Lego. For those of you who have never heard of Legos, they are small plastic blocks designed to cause excruciating pain when stepped on with the soft arch of the foot.
Anyway, the structure is to be a detailed, 50 foot high, exact replica of the Eiffel Tower, complete with all of the complex girders and beams.
Now, if someone dumped a truckload of grey Lego blocks in front of you, along with a photograph of the tower, and then just said “Build!” you wouldn’t stand a chance. A small few of you may be able to do it, but like the brute-force friends whom I mentioned earlier, it would take you a very long time and you would have to make thousands of mistakes.
Imagine the same scenario, but instead of a photo of the tower, the person hands you a set of detailed blueprints; step-by-step numbered instructions on how to assemble the blocks. These instructions not only guide you on how to connect the blocks, they also give you:
– a timetable to follow that ensures progress and makes efficient use of your time
– regular reminders about why building this structure will benefit you, so you stay motivated
– a guide on how to overcome some of the problems you are likely to encounter over time
– contact details for people who have already built one so that they can give you advice
All of a sudden, this imposing 50 foot structure becomes a relatively straightforward process you can follow. Each step along the way is challenging but entirely manageable.
Take those dreams of a better lifestyle and break them down into daily, weekly, and monthly activities which are entirely achievable. You’ll find that your waking life will transform slowly but surely until it becomes a series of challenging but enjoyable activities
This will ensure that you are achieving, instead of just living out your time. You’ll find that after a few months of doing, this you won’t ever be able to go back to just winging it; your ambition to succeed further every day will drive you for the rest of your life.
Here are some rules for writing your goals:
1. Try a simple model – “DRM.”
I like this model because I made it up myself … anyway, it stands for Detailed, Realistic, and Measurable. Write your goals in such a way that a complete stranger could pick up what you’ve written and achieve the goal. DRM ensures you don’t have to problem-solve along the way, you just follow your own instructions.
2. Have no more than 10 goals at any given time.
You’re better off getting a few things done well than procrastinating on 100 things half-completed.
3. Aim for the smallest reasonable “next step.”
Start with the big picture in mind and then work backwards in logical steps. Keep working backwards until you arrive at where you currently are. You now have your next step. Until that’s completed, none of the other steps matter, so forget about them
4. Tell others about it to hold yourself accountable.
However, double-check to make sure you don’t need anyone or anything else. Goals should only need one person to complete them: YOU. Re-write any that rely on other people. That said, telling other people you plan to achieve your goal puts positive pressure on you to get it done. Secrecy leads to quitting.
5. Create a clear link between the goal and your overall dream.
Make sure it’s impossible to forget WHY you are trying to achieve this goal. Have a clear path from the goal to your dream life. When you’re trying to do 100 crunches, it helps to remember that this pain will lead to a six-pack.
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