Setting Personal Goals


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Setting personal goals is a great accomplishment. There are many studies that demonstrated that when people take the time to write down their goals, these goals have a greater chance of being achieved.

One goal format that gets a lot of attention is the “S.M.A.R.T. Goal” format. This format is commonly used in business and is one way that employees evaluate their own work performance.  The characteristics of S.M.A.R.T. Goals are S=Specific, M=Measurable, A=Attainable, R=Realistic and T=Timely/Tangible.

Specific: When a goal is written with specific terminology, it has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a goal with ambiguous phrasing. When you are developing your goal, do you best to answer the questions who, what, where, when, and why for each goal.

Using our previous example of quitting smoking, answers to these specifics could be

Who = me

When = By July 4, 2012

Where = in my hometown

What=I will only breath healthy air into my lungs

Why=To decrease chances of cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Measurable – Establish concrete, observable measurement criteria for your goal.  It is best to write you goal so an observer could measure your progress towards the goal.  To be measurable, you need to be able to measure when it has been accomplished. You need to be able to describe how it would look if your goal has been completed.  The benefit of measurable goals is that you will be able to chart your progress towards goal completion.

Our example goal of smoking cessation is easy to measure since the goal is to avoid inhaling smoke.

Attainable –When identifying goal areas, it is critical that you believe that you can attain the goal. If you feel like the goal may be a stretch for you, you may need to do some work on your core believes, thoughts and feelings about you proposed goal. It would also be helpful to set up your goal so you can reach it or at least attain some success along the way. If you have a huge life ambition, it may be helpful to set a smaller attainable goal on the path towards the grander goal so you can experience progress and keep momentum moving forward.

Realistic– To be realistic, a goal must represent something that you are willing and able to achieve.

Timely – All goals need a time frame for completion. Most of us are motivated by a deadline. Without a timeframe, it is easy to procrastinate.

Tangible – A goal will most likely be tangible if you answered all of the specific questions of who, what, when and why. A goal is more motivating when you can imagine experiencing it with one or all of your senses.

We can “Supercharge” our S.M.A.R.T. goals a couple of ways. The first way is to add emotion into our written goal. You can see this in the example goal written above. The goal should answer the question, how do I imagine myself feeling once my goal has been completed. When you add emotionality, you engage your limbic system, which is vitally important in our decision making process as well as influencing what we remember and what we choose to pay attention to. A great book on the role of our emotional system and the decision making process is “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehar. Another important component of the emotional portion of the goal is writing it in the present tense (by a certain date, I AM feeling….). Every time you read your goal, you will more likely experience your target emotion every time you read the “I am feeling” statement.

The next thing that you can do to “Supercharge” your goals is to review them every day. There are many ways of setting up your goals so you can review them daily. You can created a PowerPoint with all of your goals, you can write each goal on index cards, you could record each goal to an audio file on a voice recorder or smart phone or you can write each goal in a notebook. To help create a mental picture of your goal, it would be valuable to paste a picture next to your goal. For example, if you have a weight loss goal, it would be helpful to have a picture of the body type that you wish to create.

Have fun creating supercharged systematic, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely, tangible and emotionally charged goals to help develop your roadmap of personal development.

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