set smart goals

Without doubt, one of the best way to increase your self-confidence and be successful in life, is to set goals then have a written plan for their achievement.

We all have dreams. Something we’d like to have, do, or be at some point in the future. When we set goals to achieve them, those dreams suddenly become a possibility. If we take the time to write an action plan, and give each step a deadline, they immediately become achievable.

The trick is to go about it in the right way. Identify the steps necessary to move you towards your goals, think about any resources, or training you may require along the way, then plan a way to make it happen.

You already set goals every day. Mostly they’re short term goals like, “I will get up for work at 7:30 tomorrow morning”, or “I must make an appointment with the Dentist next week”, etc. So your ability to make and achieve goals is already thriving, like most people, it’s just the ‘important’ goals that seem to be eluding you.

This post is going to help you change that!

The trouble with life changing goals is they just seem to be too big, in the main they’re pipe-dreams that you just can’t see yourself being able to achieve. What you need to learn, is how to make big dreams become small goals and when we’ve finished, you’ll be an expert!

There are several things you’ll need to remember about setting achievable goals, but we’ll deal with each of them over the coming series of posts.

The strategy we’re going to use is called SMARTER goal setting.

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Specific – The goals you set should be absolutely specific. For example, “By the end of August this year, I will be able to comfortably present the Company’s full financial report at our Annual General Meeting and enjoy the process.” A non-specific goal would be “This year I’ll be able to speak in public”

Measurable – There must be a way of knowing, without doubt that you have achieved your goal. The first example above is measurable, if you present your report at the AGM and enjoy doing it, you’ve succeeded. In the second example however, it’s very vague…. speaking in public could be talking to a friend in the park, asking a stranger for directions to a new location, or hundreds of other scenarios.

Achievable– This one is very simple. The goals you set must be goals you want to achieve. There will be times when tutors, friends and family, etc. will try to tell you what you should be achieving, or doing with your life. This may not always be what you want and if you try to achieve things you aren’t passionate about, it will fail.

Realistic – Don’t set yourself goals that will be too difficult to achieve within the timescale you’ve set yourself. It’s no good setting a goal that says “I will be earning 10 times my current income within 12 months, doing the same job, but much more efficiently” Chances are, unless you’re a bank robber, or con-artist, ‘it ain’t gonna happen!’ Also, do you believe that your chosen goal is achievable by you, maybe you’ll need some extra training, or gain some more, or different experience, etc. first, but once you have all of the information your require, is it possible you could achieve it? This cuts out goals that are either too difficult to achieve, or are not physically possible and maybe you need to restructure your goal.

Time Sensitive – You must add a date to your goals. Without a timescale, your goals are just dreams. Although the dates may change as you move through the necessary smaller steps on the road to achieving your goal. As you progress, you may come up against things that you weren’t expecting, a fork in the road may take you off-track for a while, or alternatively, you may find that some things were remarkably simpler than you expected.

Exciting – As I said a few moments ago, the most successful goals are those that you’re passionate about achieving. Once you’ve decided on your goals, make the steps to achieve them exciting and if possible, fun! The human mind loves to do things that give you pleasure, so make it easy.

Recorded – This final step is one of the most important in the process. Most people give up on their goals simply because they fail to focus on them often enough. How many times have you set a goal at New Years, only to realise three weeks later that you’re still doing the things you were supposed to be giving up? Failure to focus equals failure to achieve, so write it all down and keep copies where you’ll see them every day.

So, the first step is to set your Major Goal. This is the thing that all of your positive actions will eventually lead you to, the place you want to be when all of your efforts have been realised.

Write it down, then compare what you’ve written to the SMARTER criteria.

Is it specific? In other words, does it explain exactly what the outcome of this goal is?

Is the result measurable? How will you know when you’ve achieved it?

Is it achievable? Is this goal something that YOU want to achieve, or is it just something that you’ve been told would be good for you, but you’ve got no real interest for?

Is it realistic? It is something that you can achieve (even if you need more resources first), within the timescale you’ve set?

Is it time specific? Have you attached a deadline? Remember, without a deadline, it’s just a dream, not a target to achieve.

Is it exciting? Does the thought of fulfilling this goal excite you, or is it just something you’d like to achieve?

If it meets all of these criteria, then write it down on a Your Major Goal work sheet. You can download all of the worksheets from Goal Setting Worksheets.

Now you’re probably concerned about how you’re going to achieve this great feat? Well, no matter how difficult it seems to be at the moment, between us, we’re going to break it down and make it as simple as we can.

Print out a copy of the Brainstorming Sheet and at the top of the page write out your Major Goal. Underneath the goal, list out the things that’ll need to be in place for you to achieve it. Eg. If your major goal was to be running a successful Widget retail store, then your list could include “I need to take a business taxation course”, or “I need to arrange finance for stock”, etc.

Take your time with this bit. The more things you can think of, the more structured your plan will be, so the less chance there’ll be that you’ll be caught wondering what to do next.

When there’s nothing else you can think of, add these smaller steps to your sheet.

Then lastly, write down how you will know when you’ve achieved this major goal. What measurable things will you have when your goal has been reached?

The remaining steps follow next time in Section 2 of this short course. For now, if you missed the links in the text, you can download all of the work sheets used in this course by CLICKING HERE.

Steve, who's also the Founder of Teen Anxiety UK, has been writing books and articles about various aspects of Psychology since 2006.

For the last five years, he's main focus has been in helping build confidence and self-esteem.

His formal qualifications include Clinical Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, NLP and CBT.

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