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Goal setting process

I have previously posted about SMARTY goals and rewarding yourself when you achieve goals, so I thought I would add a little about the process of setting goals.

There are a number of ways of setting goals (brainstorming, asking a coach/mentor/friend for help, breaking down bigger goals, adding onto previous achievements, doing workshops or workbooks or just following the SMARTY acronym for example.)

I have found some recent examples of goal setting processes which you may enjoy reading:

Belinda Lindhart has recently gone through the process of setting business, artistic and personal goals for 2009. She has posted about her process in her blog and I think it is a great process that she is sharing.

Chris Brogan has a very different goal setting technique – he uses three specific words to keep him on track for the year.  It is actually a very challenging thing to do, but has a lot of potential – I think I will try this one myself! I also love the words equip and armies that Chris has set for himself – he probably wouldn’ t mind if I copied them as it is my aim to equip people with clear communications (through my tips and own writing) and environmental consciousness, and I would love armies of people to push for clear communications and more respect for our planet. However, I will sit down and see what words I come up with myself.

Ali reminds us that goals should be fulfilling as they happen, not just for some mythical future happiness. While not every step of a goal will be fun, it will ideally have some reward for you along the way – and certainly be something you want rather than what you ‘should’ do.

“A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step” said Confucius. Apparently, the Japanese system of kaizen has a similar meaning and I agree with Emma that taking baby steps is the way to achieve anything – and I loved reading that she used this system for breaking a habit like smoking as it is exactly how I think such habits can be broken!

Some years I ago I used a list of questions (out of a book originally but I can’t remember it’s title or author now) to review the previous year and start the new one. The questions were things like ‘what did you learn this year? what was your biggest achievement? which goals did you reach? which people influenced you this year? what was your biggest challenge this year?’ and then repeat them for the upcoming year (so what do you want to learn next year? what do you want to achieve next year? how will you overcome/avoid those challenges? which old goals need refining?) It was an effective exercise in choosing a direction and goals which I could then write out.

So what process do you use, or will you now use, to set 2009 up as your best year so far?

SMARTY goals

As promised in my New Year’s message, I wanted to explain what SMARTY goals are – and why they are better than other goals.

SMARTY Goals are:

follow your path across water

Setting goals will keep you heading the right direction







And now for an explanation…

Specific – the more specific the goal, the easier it is to see your progress and feel some achievement. For example, ‘loosing weight’ or ‘getting fit’ may be common resolutions, but they aren’t specific. Much better to say ‘I will lose 5 kilos’ or ‘I will train so I can run 10km’

Measurable – make it so you know when you have reached it, and see improvement along the way as well. For example, ‘I will make $x more this year than last year’ is easy to see how close you are to $x and achieving your goal.

Achievable – you must be able to work on the goal. Setting a goal of running a marathon next week is unlikely if you currently get puffed walking to the letterbox, but a goal of walking for 10 minutes every day is achievable. Of course, part of being able to work on the goal means your attitude, too – you need to be willing to work on it and allow yourself to grow your abilities along the way.

Relevant – your goals must fit in with where you are, what your values are and your big life goals. Following someone else’s goals may not be relevant for you (e.g. don’t try to lose weight if you are underweight), and you may need to set different goals at different times in your life. If your values are to help people, then ‘I will volunteer at the community centre 3 hours a month’ is a relevant goal.

Timed – goals without a deadline are just wishes really. A deadline makes you take them more seriously and to act on them now rather than tomorrow. Deadlines need to be realistic to keep your goal achievable, but they also need to be tight enough to keep you motivated and working towards the goal. So a timed goal is something like ‘I will read a business magazine a month’, ‘I will sell 10% more this year’,  ‘I will exercise 4 times a week’ or ‘I will lose 6kg by 1 August’.

whY– you need to have a reason to aim for your goal. The reason will keep you going even when it is hard and you don’t seem any closer to the end. And I’m talking about the real, deep reason for your goal. For example, ‘my doctor says I should stop smoking’ will only motivate you on a good day. On a bad day, you will need to know ‘I want more energy and don’t want emphysema like Uncle Jim so I will not light a cigarette now’. So what is your real reason (and there can be more than one) for setting this goal?

So let’s go back to our first examples – I want to lose weight and I want to get fitter. Now, let’s word them as SMARTY goals:

I will lose 1 kilo a month until I reach 60kg so I can fit into my favourite dress and keep up with my kids in the park.

I will exercise four times every week to be fit enough for the fun run in September. I want to show John that I can compete at his level and I want to feel proud of myself.

So what are your SMARTY goals for the next six months?