Home » Self Improvement » Goal Setting

Be S.M.A.R.T.: Set Goals! Pt 1

Jun 27, 2008
Goal setting is a classic method of self improvement. Virtually every self help book out there has a chapter (or more) on goal setting. But how do you get started? What constitutes a good goal?

I could speak for days about all the important things to do (and the important things to avoid) in goal setting. To keep things simple, we will just talk about a few of them. Ideally your goals should be specific, measurable, stated as if it were now, realistic, and time-sensitive.

If a goal isn't specific, then it is nearly impossible to achieve. Why? There is no way to verify that you have achieved a vague goal. As an example, 'wealthy' is a rather vague term. Some millionaires don't consider themselves wealthy. The homeless in America could be called 'wealthy' when compared to people living in 3rd world countries. At what point exactly does a person become 'wealthy'. You will know if you become a millionaire, but you can invest for the rest of your life and never consider yourself 'wealthy'.

Next, your goal must be measurable. This is connected with the first. Whether or not a goal is measurable is often partially determined by how specific it is. The goal of being a millionaire is easily measured. If you have over a million dollars in assets (liquid or otherwise depending on your specific goal), you are a millionaire. If you want someone to like you or value your companionship, you will have to come up with a good way to measure this. You could measure it by how often they smile at you or around you, the amount of openness or comfort they display in your presence, or the amount of personal information about thoughts, feelings, and insights they are willing to share with you.

Spiritual goals can also be difficult to measure, but it can be done. Your own description of your subjective experience is typically the best measurement of spiritual progress. In measuring your progress for any goal, a journal can be incredibly useful. It may be subjective, but as long as you have a clear measurement, this is fine.

Now that you have a better defined goal, it is important to write it and/or state it as if it had already occurred. This is where you build motivation for your goal. Visualize it. Hear what you would hear if you already had achieved the goal right now. Feel what you would feel. Make this as vivid as possible. The more vivid the goal is in your mind, the more intensely you feel the motivation to achieve it. It is also very useful to return to this step frequently (as often as needed) to revivify the motivation. It can be very challenging (particularly for long term goals) to maintain motivation. Any time your motivation begins to wane, just remember what it is like to already have your goal: see it, hear it, and feel it.

Clarity and motivation are the core of a powerful goal. A goal that is specific, measurable, and stated 'as if now' is already well on its way to being achieved!
About the Author
Benjamin Langley has been studying and training in meditation, yoga, and other sciences of the mind for over 10 years. He regularly writes and shares powerful insights on his own blog. Come take a look: http://peacefulprosperity.com/blog
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