Goal Setting Tips for Success
So many people contacted me about my ‘GMC for Success’ post asking about setting goals, I thought I’d write another article on the subject. One tool for personal development is the act of setting goals. Whether it’s setting career objectives, or business targets, or setting personal goals for fitness and weight loss, we all do it. Whether we actually achieve those goals is dependent upon how we set ourselves up – for failure or success.
What is a goal?
The definition of a goal is: the achievement or result to which effort is directed or aimed; A defined area, basket, cage, line, etc, toward which players of various games and sports will attempt to kick, throw, hit, etc, to score a point or points.
Why Use Goal Setting?
Goal setting is a way to clarify what it is exactly that you want. It’s hard to take that first step in any direction if you don’t know the destination. Setting goals is also a motivational way of ‘thinking’ your way to success (I know, sounds a bit wankerish, but bear with me). Visualising yourself, in where you want to be, doing what you want to do, is a great way to give hope and drive to achieve your goals. It’s also a way to create a strategy in order to meet your objective.
How to Set Goals:
One fantastic tool for taking steps forward to your own defined success is using the S.M.A.R.T. Goal theory. It’s been so helpful for me in the past, and it can be a springboard to more efficient time management.
So, what are S.M.A.R.T. Goals? S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound, and all are aspects that will help tighten your goal, and give you the direction you’ll need to achieve it. I’ll explain each point, and I’ll use personal goal-setting and writing goals for examples. Please note: these goals are not my own, merely examples.
Specific: Stating general goals is a great way to set yourself up for failure, or at least a minimal effort requirement. By being specific, you are clearly stating what it is you want, by when, and how. Giving yourself details and deadlines gives you a benchmark to aim toward.
Eg; Weight Loss: I want to lose weight. Well, how much weight? And when do you want to lose it by? Having an open-ended goal means you may never achieve it.
Eg; Writing I want to write a book. Well, how long is the book? Is it a novella? A category length book? A single title book? What kind of book – romance, self-help? When do you want to finish it – July? The 12th of Never? How are you going to achieve this? Two thousands words a day? Ten pages per week?
Measurable: Giving your goals a measure will help you ascertain whether you’ve achieved it or not. Stating it in measurable terms will give you deadlines, and a way of monitoring your progress.
Eg; Weight Loss: How much weight do you want to lose by when?
Eg; Writing: What project, or how many words do you want to write by when?
Achievable: Your goal has to be something you can actually do. It’s no use setting a goal for something that is impossible – this is a recipe for failure, and just darned depressing. Notice I use the word impossible – something might be highly improbable, but can still be achievable if you are willing and able to put in the work to achieve it. Also, achievable means something that YOU can do – and not reliant on some other party in order to achieve that goal. For example, if you’re wanting to go the path of traditional publishing, and have an established publisher buy, print and distribute your book, then your goal wouldn’t be: I want to publish a book. The publisher will need to action most of that. Your goal could instead be: I want to write a book. That is completely within your control, and YOU make that happen. So achievable = something YOU have control over. Once it’s outside of your control, and requires external forces to align and action, then your achievability factor drops significantly.
Eg; Weight Loss: I want to lose half my body weight – well, that can not only be impossible for some of us, but possibly dangerous. Or wanting to lose a massive amount of weight overnight – it’s not going to happen. I want to get fit – this is totally achievable.
Eg; Writing: I want to write a bestseller overnight. Yeah, well, join the club. Talk to any consistent bestselling author, and ten-to-one they’ve been writing for a while, and are not an overnight success. I want to write my best possible book – totally achievable.
Realistic: This harks back to the previous point – if it’s not realistic, it’s not achievable. This is a great point to challenge yourself on. YOU decide what is realistic. YOU can control how much time, effort and enthusiasm you can dedicate to reaching this goal.
Eg; Weight Loss: I want to lose a massive amount of weight overnight – this is simply not realistic. I want to lose 8kgs in 3 months – depending on the effort and time and enthusiasm you commit to this goal, it is entirely achievable.
Eg; Writing: I want to write a single title book in 2 weeks. Well, if you’re willing to forego sleeping, eating, and engaging with family and friends… no, I still don’t think it’s a realistic goal. I want to write a 100,000 word single title book in 9 months – with time, effort and enthusiasm, this is possible, therefore realistic and achievable.
Time-Bound: Putting a time limit on your goal is the final measure of whether you’ve achieved your goal or not. Having an open-ended goal means you may never achieve what you want. Losing weight – well, whenever that happens. The same with writing a book – give yourself the 12th of Never to do it, and you’ll never do it.
Eg; Weight Loss I want to lose 8 kgs in 3 months by going to the gym four times a week.
Eg; Writing I want to write a 100,000 word single title romantic suspense book by October 30th this year by writing 1,000 words a day during the working week.
These goals are specific – what do you want to accomplish? When do you want to accomplish it by? How are you going to achieve it?
They are measurable – by the end of 3 months, did you lose 8kgs – yes or no? By October 31st, did you complete your 100,000 word single title romantic suspense book – yes or no?
They are achievable – these goals are dependent upon your time, effort and enthusiasm, and need nobody other than yourself to complete, no influence from outside of your control. You CAN do it!
They are realistic – these are completely do-able, they are not impossible and totally achievable.
They are time-bound – there is a deadline by which you can tell if you have succeeded. At the deadline, did you achieve your goal: yes or no?
Go ahead and write your S.M.A.R.T. Goals. If you’re brave enough, let me know what your goals are! One brave soul will win a S.M.A.R.T. Goal pack – a notebook and pen to jot down your career, personal and artistic goals!