If you were planning a vacation from Houston Texas to Maui Hawaii, there would be many details to be considered before stepping out the door to your home. In fact, some of you are already making a checklist in your mind of what you need to do. Others are just kinda hoping everything just magically happens so they can just enjoy their time on the beach.
Truth be told, the beach can not be enjoyed until the work of planning and preparing is completed. Without planning, the vacation will never happen. With poor planning, the vacation will not be all that it could be. Let’s face it, when your spending that kind of money in hopes of achieving the vacation of a lifetime, you better do your homework and get things done or you’ll just be waisting your time and money.
In order to achieve your ambitions and find success, big or small, you must create goals, establish a plan of attack, and then follow through until you’ve reached your desired destination.
When I go online to purchase my airline tickets for that dream vacation, there are a few variables that need to be entered into the computer before I can even find the price: departure and destination, time frame of travel, and how many are accompanying me? Those are also some of the first questions we need to answer when we consider establishing our own goals.
The first and most important question is: Where are you now and where do you want or need to be in the future? In my coaching practice I suggest breaking it down into categories and time frames as indicated in Table #1 below.
If you are working on creating goals on a corporate level, say with your business, volunteer group, or even your family, you can simply adjust the left column’s categories to fit your particular organization’s needs. What categories do you need to set goals in? Try asking those closest to you for suggestions (your boss, spouse, influencers, close friends).
You can have as many categories as you feel necessary and even extend the time frame to include 5 years, 10 years, and even 20 years. Just remember to use the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting. The S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting was first introduced in the November 1981 issue of Management Review in an article titled, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals”, by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. This is my spin on the method using the illustration from Table #1.
S – Specific – It’s ok for your goals to be simple and concise but most important is that they are specific. Goals will never be accomplished if they are generic. For the 6 month health goal shown in the example it indicates that they want to start exercising twice a week. What does that mean though? What kind of exercising and for how long? What is the real win – weight loss, tone, building muscle? So we need to add specific details as to what they really want to accomplish.
M – Measurable – If your goal can’t be measured then how will you know what progress you have made or even celebrate when you have reached it? When considering starting three saving accounts as one of the financial goals we need to determine the specifics so that it can be measured an celebrated. We need to add amounts and percentages to set the pace and make it measurable.
A – Attainable – Your goals can not be “pie in the sky” outlandish fantasies. When you make your goals to far fetched you set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. If the individual is not a reader naturally, then reading 100 books is really not attainable. However, reading one book a month is definitely much more doable. (The next step then would be to make a list of the books that they need/want to read.)
R – Realistic – Making a goal attainable shouldn’t mean that it is easy. It should be something that is going to stretch you and take you out of your comfort zone enough to cause you to grow and move forward in life. If the goal isn’t practical, your tendency will be to give up before you even get started. In the example category of career, asking a direct report or supervisor to mentor an individual is still a stretch and will help them to grow but it is also much more realistic that expecting the CEO of a major corporation to do so.
T – Timely – Goals must have a deadline thus giving you a sense of urgency to pursue it in a timely manner. When considering helping a child determine which college to attend, one would need to break down the details into measurable markers. They would need to determine what he wanted to study, what are his top three choices of schools, what are the cost differences, and what scholarships and financial aid are available?
* You can compare the contrast of Table #1 and Table #2 when we use the S.M.A.R.T. method of goal setting. It would actually be beneficial to take each goal and break it down on a separate sheet of paper to better see all of the elements involved.
Now it’s time for you to take a step forward and create some goals for yourself. Choose one area of your life, discover where you are and determine where you want to go. Put that goal into words and write it down. Now use the S.M.A.R.T. method to make it specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Using this method will also help you to determine what resources you will need to succeed and what roadblocks you may need to overcome.