The 5 Golden Rules For Goal-Setting

As we approach the close of 2017, it becomes important to start thinking more about our goals for next year.  It is equally important to look back and think about what went well, what didn’t go so well and what we want to do differently next year.  It’s been my experience that goal-setting is a foreign subject to many.  Many will think about setting goals, maybe even decide on a few as they enter the new year, but never write them down, consult with others about them or plan on how they will arrive there.  Others will write them down, put some steps into place to accomplish them, then lose focus and stop pursuing them all together.  The funny thing is, most of us know what needs to be done, but never finish the process.  We pull up short, never engage fully and end up leaving them behind like a dream you forgot.

Why goals at all?  We have a quote in our training that addresses this:  if you don’t have goals, it is like bowling through a curtain.  You might hit some pins down, but you really aren’t sure how many, which ones you hit and what to aim at next.  If we can set our goals up properly, have a system for pursuing them and not give up throughout the year, we could accomplish more than we possibly could have imagined.  Why not give it a try?  If you are frustrated that you aren’t where you want to be in any aspect of your life, read on.

The 5 Golden Rules For Goal-Setting

When setting up your goals-system, have a track to follow.  If you set them up using the S.M.A.R.T. system, it will make it easier to verify whether or not you are setting them up to win.

  1. S – Specific. If you are going to set up a goal, whether it is about your financial situation, family, social, education, relationships or the mental side of things, make it specific.  Meaning, be exact.  For instance, if you want to earn more than last year, know exactly by how much, to the penny.  Then, break it up into quarters or months and start doing the behaviors to get you there.  Know exactly what you would like to achieve, think specifically what you need to do (activity wise) to achieve it, and work backwards.  Another example, if you wanted to lose 20 pounds, know how many pounds per week you will lose, when to have it accomplished by and what you will do every day to work on it (i.e., counting calories, or the number of repetitions of an exercise).  Also, write down specific barriers you may experience on the way there.  Plan specifically for how you will overcome these barriers when they arrive.
  1. M – Measurable. If you can’t measure the activity, how will you know when you’ve arrived or when you are off course?  Some flounder around for years, hoping things will get better, only to find out that they didn’t get there and have no idea what happened.  We see it every day.  Good people with good intentions that want to do better, but because they haven’t identified what to change, specifically and measurably, they simply end up working harder and arriving short.  Perhaps they were working on the wrong tasks because they didn’t know what it was that was making them successful.  As an example, we have clients who will ask, proactively, for introductions to others that they can work with (“referrals” to some).  They know how many customers they need to ask each year to reach an acceptable number of introductions, in order to reach their goal.  You’ll notice that I said, “ask” and not “wait for”.  If you measure your activity of asking for introductions, you’ll more likely achieve the ratio of “yes’s” you’re looking for, and stay on track with the revenue you gain from the activity.  Make sense?
  1. A – Attainable. When you set goals, make sure that what you pick is attainable.  Have proof.  Make it reasonable.  Some will initially tell me that they want to double their sales.  Wow!  Awesome!  Sadly, not an easy thing to accomplish in a year unless you know something that we don’t.  Measure out the behaviors and activities that will help you reach your goal, and see if the quantity and quality of those activities are possible, given the number of hours you’ll put in for a year.  Many have a good-looking plan but because they haven’t done the math on their time, will run out way short of their goal.  I met an individual recently that told me if he could get three more “large” accounts he would reach his goal for the year, before December.  Unfortunately, when I asked him what large prospects he had in-line, he had none.  When I asked him what he was going to do to get in front of more of them, he had no idea.  We have to be realistic with what we are trying to accomplish.
  1. R – Rewarding. I’m a big believer in getting your own mind to work overtime when you find something you’d like to achieve.  How do we get our mind “on-board” and to work overtime when we might be taking our eye off the ball?  Reward yourself.  When we reward ourselves for behaviors achieved and well-done, our mind takes over.  “Hey!  I kind of like getting this reward for all the hard work I did!”, says your mind.  When done repetitively and consistently, the mind will repeat the difficult behavior to get the reward.  Simple psychology, yes, but also effective.  A group of fellow runners and I often set long-run goals on the weekend.  In the summer, not such a difficult thing.  It’s warm, bright and the conversations are fun.  Now that it’s cold, dark and sometimes windy and damp, not as enjoyable, quite frankly.  However, we’ve discovered that when we set the route to end at a tavern of choice, and we allow ourselves just a single IPA beer (my favorite), we not only look forward to the run but find ourselves braving the elements and not skipping the behavior because of it.  The reward doesn’t have to be anything major, but it does need to be something you want.
  1. T – Timetable. In order to achieve everything that you want in 2018, make sure you have a start time, an accomplished by date and when you are going to work on your goals.  I like to put those things that will help me accomplish my goals directly into my calendar, in advance.  If I need to book more speaking engagements, I put the activity of calling companies directly onto a day of the week and treat it like an appointment with a good customer.  Nothing gets in the way.

Set up benchmarks.  Decide when to achieve part of the goal, and put it on your calendar to ask yourself how you’re doing.  Going back to the running example, every 30 days I have a goal for the mileage that I want to accomplish for the next 30.  I put it on my calendar to run that many miles by the end of each month.  Before that, I’ve determined the average number of miles to run per week to achieve the monthly goal.  It becomes easy to monitor progress and I’ve created benchmarks for myself as I go.  It’s much easier to manage the goal in small, bite-size pieces.  It is also much easier to stay motivated this way as I can see, in real-time, how my progress is coming.  It is actually motivating to see what I’ve achieved and how many more to achieve the monthly goal.

With a little work in advance, by testing your goals with the system, your chances of meeting and exceeding your goals goes up.  If you follow these golden rules for goal-setting, you are on your way to finally achieving everything that you’ve wanted to achieve.  No matter what the category, you can achieve more.  We are all simply limited by our mind.  Conquer the mind, by setting up your goals using the S.M.A.R.T. system and you will make 2018 your best year ever!