“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu
Indeed, it does.
It also begins with knowing where you want to go. After all, you can take as many steps as you want and walk your entire life without arriving anywhere because you don’t have a destination. Once we choose a destination, not only can we begin to head in the right direction, we are also able to map out our precise path accordingly.
When set properly, goals act as markers. They allow us to establish where we are on our journey at any given point. They also help us steer our direction in life so that we can constantly be heading towards the destination we choose for ourselves.
Goals are extremely important because they serve as a focal point for our ventures. They allow us to choose what we believe to be most important for us and go after it with all of our will and might.
The first step in achieving a goal is to know what your goal is.
As simple as this may sound, the truth of the matter is a target cannot be hit if it is not known. Now that we can all see on the importance of setting goals, let’s go one layer deeper; setting goals is simply not enough, the whole goal setting process must be done in a certain way.
My greatest mentor, Timothy Krupa, once shared with me, “Success is not doing certain things, it is doing things a certain way.”
Nothing could be closer to the truth with it comes to setting goals. Just setting goals will not make you achieve them and in turn cause you to become a success. It is the process through which you go about setting and achieving goals which will over time guarantee your success.
There are many aspects to setting and attaining goals. In my opinion, S.M.A.R.T. goal setting captures the essence of those aspects which are most important to successfully going about setting and attaining goals.
When goals are set in accordance with the S.M.A.R.T. model, the results can be phenomenal. S.M.A.R.T. goals consist of the following five aspects:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Act As If
R – Realistic
T – Timely
Please allow me to elaborate further on each of these crucial aspects of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.
“When you get specific, things happen.” Art Sobczak
Vagueness will not get you anywhere when it comes to knowing where you want to go in life. The most important aspect in setting and achieving goals is being specific. Simply said, the more specific your goals are, the clearer your direction for the future.
When a goal is clear-cut and definitive, it allows a person to focus on tasks at hand in a much more efficient manner. It also helps one clearly define the course of action they will need to take. Over time, this definite-ness is certain to translate into results.
For example; a goal such as, “I want to earn more money,” would translate into “I am going to earn more money by becoming an expert in Internet Marketing” in accordance with being specific.
“You cannot manage what you cannot measure.” Anonymous
When something is measurable, it is manageable. By knowing exactly what is to be accomplished, you can go about the entire process in an efficient and systematic manner. By specifically knowing what you are after, you can also be certain to know when it is finally accomplished.
Measurable goals allow one to track progress and determine where one stands at any given point. This accountability enables a person to alter their approach until any given goal is attained. Following our example from above, we would add the following to our goal of wanting to earn more money; “I am going to earn $10,000 a month by becoming an expert in Internet Marketing.”
Act As If
Acting as if simply means that you must think, feel, and act AS IF the goal you want to achieve is already attained. Now you may say, “But how? I know it is not!”
Acting as if will be challenging at first because the intellect will constantly try to point out that you have not yet achieved your goal, however over time it will become easier and easier.
When you act as if, your subconscious mind accepts your new thoughts, feelings, and actions as the normal state of mind for you. This will allow you to take actions which you would not otherwise perform.
Acting as if is all about faith and belief. It is about your belief in the unseen and faith in yourself that you will be able to accomplish your goal no matter what it takes.
After all, why should acting as if be so challenging if you are certain that you will achieve your goal anyways?
When it comes to our example of earning $10,000 a month by becoming an expert in Internet Marketing, acting as if would consist of getting in the feeling of asking and answering questions such as; how will I manage my finances when I am earning $10,000 a month? How much of it would I spend and what would I spend it on? How much of it would I save? How much of it would I invest back into my business? Would I buy a new car? If so, what color, year, make, and model?
It would also include considering and researching which seminars would I go to for Internet Marketing? How will I continually educate myself to stay atop the latest information in my chosen field? What would my day to day schedule be like?
How would I contribute to others? And the list can go on and on…
The more you contemplate on your future as if it is already here, the faster you will be able to attain it.
Your goals must be realistic enough for you to believe that you will be able to achieve them. You are much more likely to commit to achieving a goal when it is believable for you in your mind. Realistic does not necessarily mean easy, instead the goal should certainly make you take action which puts you out of your comfort zone.
You see, if you keep doing what you have been doing, you will keep getting what you have been getting. When you set a goal that stretches what you consider the norm for you, you grow by doing what you would not normally do.
If you set a goal of losing 30 lbs in one week, you will only be disappointed when the week is over. It would be much more realistic if you were to give yourself three months to accomplish the same goal.
Following our example of earning $10,000 a month by becoming an expert in Internet Marketing, you would want to research if it is possible to earn such an amount and what would you need to learn to pull this off. You will also want to ask yourself; can I picture myself making this happen? If the answer is no, adjust your goal to what is believable for you.
If the answer is yes, then it is time to move on to the final step of S.M.A.R.T goal setting.
It is extremely crucial that you give your goal a time or date element. Without a time or date aspect, it is not possible to have a specific enough goal to get you to take action towards its fulfillment.
Humans are creatures of habit. Almost always, we will continue to do what we have always been doing. By setting a time frame or date on our goal, we are much more likely to take action. You are also able to break your goal down into smaller chunks by having an end date in mind.
Following our example of earning $10,000 a month by becoming an expert in Internet Marketing, you would want to add a time frame by rephrasing the goal as following:
“I am earning $10,000 a month by becoming an expert in Internet Marketing exactly one year from today.”
So, if your goal is to read more, its’ S.M.A.R.T. version would be; “I will read books and articles on health and financial prosperity one hour a day, four days a week.”
In conclusion, having goals is simply not enough. We must take a systematic approach to achieving our goals.
As we achieve smaller goals, it gets easier and easier to set and go after bigger goals. It is also essential that you write your goal down and post it somewhere such that you will see it at least twice, three times a day. An excellent idea, which I use myself, is to print your goals out and post it your shower after laminating the page. This will certainly make you look at them consistently everyday.
I would like to finish this article with an absolutely brilliant quote found in Stephen Covey’s best selling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People:
“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; show a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”