Setting Goals Part II: Master the Art of Setting Goals

DAY SEVEN: #Makeithappen

Mastering goals and making things happen in our day to day lives, promotes feelings of competence and self-worth, in addition to sparking more motivational behaviors (When you accomplish one thing, you’ll likely move on to pursue higher goals). Goals simply provide us with means to better ourselves, with an end result of either personal satisfaction or self-improvement.

I asked several people in the new year, about their personal goals for 2016. It spawned conversation about making resolutions and setting goals. Many commented that it felt better to accomplish things throughout the year, without feeling like they were held to it, or could potentially fail. In fact, the act of writing it down was thrilling for some, and daunting for others.

I get it. I have set personal goals for myself, and have managed teams, so I set performance goals on a larger scale. It’s my belief that the process shouldn’t feel like a burden, it should inspire and motivate us to push our limits, realistically of course.

Through my own mishaps and successes, I’ve come up with a few strategies for dreaming big and setting small goals that matter.

My key strategies fall into 3 categories: Science, Ambition and Intuition.

The Science:

The best way to get started, is to set small goals, with timelines, so you can experience small wins. When you create shorter milestones, your intention is more likely to become a reality. This will reinforce feelings of accomplishment so you can continue to reach further and further, setting more lofty long-term goals.

With Science, there is always a formula. My personal favorite is called SMART. SMART stands for S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Actionable, R-Realistic, T-Timely. This is a helpful framework to follow when you are dreaming up your big plans!

I suggest writing down a handful of goals on paper. For example:

Initial Goal: Save Money for a Trip this Year.

This is a very common place to start, however goals that are broad, or vague with no milestones are difficult to put into action. Now, let’s apply SMART. What you are trying to accomplish? How much do you want to save? When do you want to save by? How will you get there?

Example with SMART method.

New Goal: Distribute $350 into my savings account automatically via direct deposit every month. Track savings the first of every month via my bank iPhone app, and shoot to save $2800 by September so I can take a trip to Italy for my birthday.

Many people who plan out their goals, simply become overwhelmed due to setting too many goals for the year. Once you have mastered the art of setting goals, make sure to consider how many is realistic. I recommend no more than 10, in addition to categorizing them into buckets.

My 10 buckets are: Work, Health, Financial, Family, Spiritual, Friends, Personal Development, Fun, Community and Home.

You don’t have to commit to 1 per category, but organizing each goal into a category will help you track them more effectively. Remember 10 goals maximum per year.

Now, even though I don’t recommend the set it and forget it mentality. Setting plans into motion doesn’t have to be something you think about and manage everyday. It’s important to track progress, but in the digital age, we have the ability to automate our lives with Calendars, Reminders, Lists and Apps.

To make your goal tracking more seamless, here are a few apps I love:

Whatever method you choose, check in on progress at least once a month, and adjust your goals based on realities and timelines. 

The Ambition:

Your ambitions are greater aspirations about who you want to be; at work, at home, as a friend, or even perhaps at a granular level such as financial savings, large purchases, and weight loss. This part will be a piece of cake once you have completed the ‘Year in Review’.

When you create your list, you’ll want to think BIG. In fact, I recommend first, not utilizing the SMART framework. You should speak from the heart, and imagine the possibilities. For example:

  • I want to move cross-country.
  • I want to lose 10 pounds.
  • I want to start a company. 

Once you have a few of the bigger ideas on paper. Look at it from a realistic lens and break it down into mini-goals using SMART.

What you will find, is that you don’t accomplish less, you just feel better about the process.

  • I want to write a proposal to my boss for the open position in our New York office. I will submit the proposal by March so I can move in with my friend in June who will have a room available.
  • I want cut out dairy and carbs during Monday through Friday and work out for 2 hours every week, this will allow me to lose 10 pounds by August. Which is 1 pound per month.
  • I will dedicate Saturday and Sunday morning to writing a compelling business plan and researching ways I can set up a company LLC and website by May, meeting with one expert and mentor each month for assistance and direction.

The Intuition: 

Lastly, your goals need to align with your needs and your abilities. It’s crucial to be true to yourself during the process. I find that many people say, I want to run a marathon by the time I’m 30, but in reality, they hate running. We must possess the ability to commit to a goal. And to do so, that goal  has to have intrinsic value to you vs. value to others or value externally. Using our intuition will be the final step. Do a simple audit, so you feel that each goal represents what you want and who you want to be.

Good Luck!