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How to Set Goals So Attaining Them is Easier

Jul 10, 2008
Nearly all of us have goals of some sort or another - losing weight, making more friends, earning more money, earning a promotion. Such goals are especially prevalent around the first of the year. But how many of our goals do we actually accomplish? Most people think about goals only in terms of the end result and don't really formulate a clear plan to achieve them. That's the No. 1 reason most goals are never achieved.

I know people who are content to just dream about "what if?" If you're like me, dreaming about a goal is not enough. One of the things coaches do is help people clarify their goals and stay focused on achieving them. Some people know what they want to do and some don't. For those who do know what they want, their biggest obstacle is figuring out how to get it.

So how are goals accomplished? One popular study suggests writing goals down is a critically important step toward achieving them. You are much more likely to achieve your goal if you do more than just keep it in your head. Start with moving your goal from your mind to something in front of your eyes by writing it down.

Another popular and effective method is the SMART method. That means re-writing your goals in terms that are:

Simple
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time-Defined

Simple
Choose one goal at a time. There are only so many hours in a day, after all. Rather than dividing your time between two or three goals simultaneously, focus your energy on one goal and you'll generally achieve it much faster. Also, if you have a big goal, it might make sense to break it up into smaller goals first. For example, if your goal is to get a Master's degree in Computer Science and you have a BA in English, a smaller goal would be to find out what additional coursework you need before you can apply to the MS program.

Measurable
How will you know when you've achieved this goal? Better still, what are the signs that you are making progress toward your goal? Outline specific steps to achieving your goal, and mark off progress along the way. Seeing your goal get closer and closer can be powerfully motivating!

Attainable
Why set yourself up for failure by choosing a goal you can't reach? Don't set a goal of winning the gold medal in the next Olympic swim competition if you're 50 and can't swim. A better goal would be to learn to swim x yards in y minutes.

Realistic
Pick a goal that's do-able within the time frame you've alloted. Again, dreaming is dreaming. Goal setting is goal setting. Setting a goal to be the first person to walk on Mars is currently not realistic. Running a marathon three weeks from today is probably just as unrealistic.

Time-Defined
How long will it take you to achieve this goal? An open-ended goal may never be achieved but one with an end or target date has a higher likelihood of keeping you on task and, thus, a much greater likelihood of being achieved.

There's almost nothing you can't achieve if you write down your goals and keep them SMART!
About the Author
I have been helping people reach their personal and professional goals for the past 14 years. There's nothing more satisfying than helping someone reach their potential for success. I would like the opportunity to help you reach your goals. I am a Professional Coach with a Ph.D. in Psychology and a specialty in Goal Achievement and Transitions. Check out my website: www.ParamountTransitions.com then call me for a free consultation.
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