Goal Setting in Simple Words
Goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Oriented or Time-Sensitive.
They have definite tangible outcomes.
What are goals?
Goals are visions, outcomes, objectives or expectations. There are big goals and small goals. Say you have a goal like ‘I will save $100,000 or (a specific figure in any currency) in the next ten years.’ Sure, it is possible. To reach that goal, you need to find out how much you need to save in a year for the next ten years, how much in a month and how much everyday. You need to make sure that you have the income and the expenses that support your daily goal. If not, extend your time frame or try to increase your income, or reduce your expenses to meet your daily goal.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”…I read somewhere.
In a business, the executives develop the goals and communicated downwards. Involving all levels of organization enhances communication and increases commitment, dedication, involvement and motivation.
Write it down: It is very important that when you have a goal in your mind, INK it. If it is not written, it is not a goal. It is a dream, a wish and you assume no accountability to make it happen. Only when it is in the written form, it is a commitment, your mind will stay focused, and direct yourself towards the qualities of persistence, commitment and consistency to reach that goal.
Define/Specific: The goal should be specific. It is not, ‘I want to have lot of money in ten years”. What is ‘lot?’ Be specific, so you can divide further to reach daily goal. Goals must be concrete. Vague and ambiguous goals cannot be reached. Years ago, I wanted to buy a home and I was very specific – the price should not exceed $100,000, must have 3 bedrooms, and should not be more than ten miles from my work. After six months of intense search I found a condo fulfilling these conditions. When you’re specific you can narrow it down to exactly what you want, avoid all other distractions and proceed to accomplish it. Goals are specific measurable targets that are designed to clarify expectations, destinations.
Short term goals: Think of them as means to an end. When you have a short term goal aiming towards the long term goal, you see that you’re moving forward everyday. Short term goals eventually culminate to your long term goal because they are measurable. You can monitor the progress. What gets measured gets done. I remember my father had a budget goal and every night before he laid his head on the pillow, he would account for his daily expenses. He monitored it religiously. Goal setting also creates a discipline in you.
One step at a time the baby starts to walk. He doesn’t plan for a mile! Joggers and walkers start slow and go on increasing 15 min every two weeks. Slow and steady wins the race. We all know the story of’ the Hare and the Tortoise’. Keep at it. Don’t quit. “Inch by inch, it’s a Cinch’, said Loe Lionni, the famous children’s book author and a painter from Italy.
Realistic & Attainable: Goals must be realistic and believable. If you don’t believe you can achieve a goal, you won’t pay the price for it. Only when you believe you’ll choose to stay focused and do what you need to do to get it. When I was little, my brother would say, save a penny on the first day and double it daily and in a month you’ll be a millionaire, in fact you’ll have more than five million in 30 days.. This is mathematically fine but is not a realistic goal for a middle class person. First day a penny, second day 2 pennies, third day 4 pennies, fourth day 16 pennies, fifth day 32 pennies, sixth day 64 pennies, seventh day 128 pennies…do you get it? I could have tried for two weeks and repeated again for couple of times…
Goal should encompass are areas of life. Remember to set financial, academic, professional, physical, spiritual and relationship goals. Neither can you do one after the other nor can you get away without growth in another area.. All areas are interdependent. It will create a domino effect. In your life If you pursue higher studies when you’re working full time, make sure you spend few minutes a day with family members to avoid friction in relationship area. I would say balancing all areas of life an art of living. You should be able to achieve little bit of everything everyday.
In 2003, I made sure that I spent couple of hours a week with my old mother every week. It was important for me to spent quality time with her when she was old so that I don’t regret later. I was working long hours, going to school and still I inked an appointment with her every Friday evening and I remember she would look forward to that meeting. Now she is not in this world and I have no regrets. All areas need equal priorities. One is not more important than another. Do not compromise something for another. No goal is impossible.
Time or deadline: Define your goal and decide by when you want it. Deadline is important. We are inherently designed to set and achieve goals. Think about, when you wake up you have your own set of actions that you do like brush your teeth, wash your face, comb your hair, read newspaper or use computer, get to school or work and so on and so forth. You can call them chores, tasks, routine but these are daily goals, have become a habit and over the course of years they are on auto pilot.
On a holiday or weekends, you’ll not do as routinely as work days. Why? Because your brain is programmed to take it easy on holidays and there are no set deadlines. You wake up late, lethargic, may not do the routine things. Basically you slack, another word is relax, (it is ok to do it though) and then at the end of the day, you say ‘Time flies. Didn’t have time to do anything!!” is that true? But you had same number of hours on all days…
On the contrary if you need to attend a wedding or gathering on holidays, things get done and move on to the next goal, which is attend the wedding. This is a simple example.
Same applies to everything. When you have a deadline, you accomplish it. Definitely set up a time limit for your goal.. “Work expands with time” – said Cyril Northcote Parkinson.
Dream big, set goals, INK it and act on it with a definite deadline. You can achieve whatever you want. Nothing is stopping you from reaching your destination except the shackles that you put around you. Remember,
Goal + Timely Action = Desired Results