Title: How to Set Meaningful Goals that are Achievable
Summary: An article that explains the Nine Step goal setting process and emphasizes the difference between setting targets and setting goals.
Product: GoalTrak™ EV, GoalTrak™ CV, GoalTrak™ PV
How to Set Meaningful Goals that are Achievable
Everyone knows what goal setting is and understands that it is an important factor in getting things done. Do an on-line search for “goal setting” and you will get almost 10,000,000 hits describing how goal setting improves performance in practically every aspect of your personal life or business.
But how many people really practice goal setting? In our experience, very few. Why is it that people do not take advantage of a powerful tool like goal setting that is universally known to be so beneficial? The answer is that people are not generally taught how to set a goal. Many of the hits in our search above discuss what a goal should be but it is rare to find a site that actually teaches you how to create a goal. This article will describe a methodology for creating goals that can be achieved and deliver the results that you want.
Before we begin, let’s understand that setting a target is not the same thing as creating a goal. Because many of us could afford to lose a few pounds, let’s look at a weight loss goal as an example. Consider the following statement: “My goal is to lose 10 pounds in the next 5 months”. This statement is not really a goal. It is merely setting a target. Now we’ll create a real weight loss goal using our proven 9-step goal setting process.
Step #1 – Crystallization
This first step in the goal setting process is where you capture the “who, what, where, when, and how” of your Goal. The answers to these questions help you develop the parameters, or boundaries, of the goal. All clearly written goals have boundaries to indicate where they begin and end. Clear parameters will help reduce conflicts and unnecessary overlaps of goal directed activity.
This step requires you to project your thoughts into the future, creating a picture of what you want in as much detail as possible. The challenge is to "put your brains on paper". Quantity of information is important in this effort. You will draw from this reservoir throughout the rest of the process.
For our weight loss example, capture things like:
These are just a few of the items you need to capture in this step and you will think of many more. Depending on the complexity of the goal, you could spend hours on this step.
- Lose weight with a proper diet and exercise
- Proper diet – 2000 cal/day; Food pyramid
- Proper exercise – aerobic and lift weights (How often?)
- Buy equipment vs. Join a club
Step #2 – The Goal Statement
The Goal Statement is a sentence or set of phrases that describes exactly what you want to accomplish. Using the meaningful information you wrote in the crystallization step, it is time to structure a goal statement that will meet these five criteria: Specific, Measurable, Tangible, Realistic and Controllable.
The more concrete specifics you include in your statement, the clearer it will be and the more obvious your Obstacles/Challenges will become. It may take a few revisions to shape the goal to meet the 5 criteria. Rewrites are a normal part of the process. Here is our goal statement for the weight loss goal:
“To lose 1 pound bi-weekly for 5 months, beginning December 16, 2008, by lifting weights 2 times/week and doing 30 minutes of aerobic exercises 3 times/week and eating a balanced diet of 2000 cal/day based on the food pyramid.”
Step #3 – Rewards and Benefits
The rewards and benefits are those things that accrue to you, your organization and others as a result of the achievement of your goal. The rewards and benefits must be EXCITING, MOTIVATING and CHALLENGING in order to be sure that you are working on a goal that is motivating to you. This step is where you make an important decision: to make it happen or to not make it happen.
Immerse yourself in the positive results of accomplishing this goal. If you are lukewarm on the idea, or are yawning at the prospect of implementation and reaping the rewards, then you have a bright yellow caution signal staring you in the face. It may be indicating that this may not be a meaningful goal for you. If this is the case, go back to the Goal Statement and see if you can tweak it to make it more interesting and challenging for you. Then try to add more benefits and rewards, or different kinds of rewards that would have a more positive effect on you. These rewards and benefits need to be so high that they can be seen over the mountain of obstacles and challenges that you will meet.
Here are some benefits for our weight loss goal:
Step #4 – Obstacles & Challenges
Complete this step by identifying those things that stand between you and your goal. These are the road blocks that must be overcome. Ask yourself why you don’t already have this goal. Identify all of those people, places, things, and conditions which need attention in order for you to be able to achieve your goal.
- Healthier Lifestyle
- Improved Physical Appearance
- Greater Self-Confidence
Resist the temptation to immediately solve the problems you list. Ignore the solutions for now, and stay focused on what is in the way.
Here are some obstacles to our weight loss goal:
Step #5 – Solutions
In this step you begin the process of determining how you will meet your challenges or overcome your obstacles. Record as many different solutions as possible that could be used to overcome each obstacle. The intent here is not to list steps in the same solution; rather, it is to look at the obstacle or challenge and creatively develop three different approaches. Many people think there is only one right way to do a particular job. In some cases that is true, but in a multitude of other situations it is not. These additional solutions will be there when your first choice goes bad and you need a replacement fast!
- Need exercise equipment
- Business traveling
Next, give all your solutions dates by which you think the solution can be implemented. Then, from your list of solutions, pick a preferred one that you feel will be most effective in overcoming each obstacle.
Here are some solutions to the “Need exercise equipment” obstacle to our weight loss goal:
Step #6 – Action Steps
Most of us are familiar with this part of goal setting. Here, you are recording those short term tasks and activities that are needed to implement your preferred solutions. You’ll be creating your “To Do” list to kick start your goal.
- Buy a weight set and ski machine – 12/5/2008
- Join the local gym – 12/16/2008 **Preferred
- Use neighbors equipment – 11/29/2008
Your first action step for each preferred solution answers the question, "What can I do within the next three business days to begin the process of implementing my solution?". Be sure that this action step is so small that you absolutely cannot help but achieve it; that you are guaranteed success; that you have absolute control over this single unit of behavior. Then list any other action steps that will be needed and give them target dates as well.
Here are some action steps for the preferred solution chosen in Step #5:
Step #7 – Tracking
The Tracking step is used to create measurable criteria by which you will track the progress of your goal. The principle of "feedback" is critical when you implement a goal. You need to know how you are doing. You need a scoreboard, or tracking system to help guide you along your path. By tracking your own progress with these measurable criteria you will be able to make adjustments sooner, rather than later, when you find yourself off-track or behind schedule.
- Make a list of all the gyms in the area – 11/25/2009
- Call gyms to get membership information – 12/1/2009
- Visit each gym that is within my budget – 12/15/2009
- Select gym and join – 12/16/2009
Begin by reviewing your Goal Statement and your Solutions for potential measures that can be developed into measurable criteria. The more ways you can measure the progress, the more likely you can determine if the goal is on track. Come up with at least 2 ways to track your goal.
Here are some ways to track our weight loss goal:
Step #8 – Affirmations
Affirmations are powerful motivators for achievement. This applies to groups as well as individuals. Before you skip this step and pooh-pooh it, keep in mind many people fail to reach their goals because they don't believe, deep down inside, that they can! Since you are trying to improve your goal achievement percentage, use every advantage you can. Affirmations give you an edge, first on the inside, then on the outside.
- Lose 1 pound every 2 weeks
- 3-30 minute sessions of aerobic exercise each week
- 2 sessions of weight lifting each week
The "magic" of affirmations is that when we state them and write them down, even though the skill or condition that we desire may not exist as currently stated, we make every effort to become what we are saying.
Master this Step. Goal achievement can be more enjoyable and attainable if you do.
Here are some affirmations for our weight loss goal:
Step #9 – Resources
This is the final step in the Goal creation process. Here, you will identify those resources that are available or needed to accomplish your Goal.
- I have a healthy lifestyle.
- I have more energy.
- I look great in my new wardrobe!
We do not live, or operate our businesses in a vacuum. We interact with and depend on other people and entities (vendors, suppliers, customers, colleagues, employees, friends and family) while we pursue our goals. These organizations, groups, people, tools, bodies of knowledge and environments become resources for us.
There are many types of resources such as equipment, certain technologies, raw materials, special processes and cash to consider and build into your support system along with the people component. These types of resources may be just as critical to your success.
Here are some resources needed and available for our weight loss example:
- My neighbor the fitness guru
- My training partner, Sally
- $50/month budget
By completing all 9 steps we have created a goal!* You can now see the difference between setting a target and creating a goal…creating a goal is hard work! Clearly, a goal is more likely to be accomplished over someone who just sets a target. The hard work is worth it! Knowing what it takes to achieve the goal and desiring all of the rewards and benefits that will accompany it, makes you confident in getting the results that you want.
- Food scale
- Copy of the Food Pyramid
- Gym with exercise and weight lifting equipment
Goal Setting is more important now than ever before. The current economic situation is challenging individuals and companies to accomplish more of what they want in less time and with less stress. Use this 9 step process for all your personal and business goals. Don't shortcut the system. Remember, we are sharing with you what works, and what works in the real world includes all 9 Steps! Stick with it; you will be amazed at the difference it will make in your life and your career.
Author: Stephen Dodd
Published: August 17, 2009
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