When you get serious about what clarifying your life around your values, you start moving forward. Goal setting is a tool to give you traction in driving towards what you want. I remember when I first got around goals, the very idea of them was breathtaking to me. My Dad has always been YUUUGE on setting goals, and challenged me to do the same. I’m pretty sure in 3rd grade, I wrote down in my Memo Notebook, “Change the world. Eat food I like. Play more basketball.”
Those aren’t goals. Those are dreams and themes for life, but they aren’t goals. At least not the way I define the word goal. I learned I needed to have a way to evaluate my goals to find out if I was succeeding or not. The further I went into goal setting, the more I realized how important it was for me to have goals that matched what is really key to my life. Getting crystal clear on your goals help you hit the bullseye of your values, not just the general target. Goals should be short term extensions of your values. Goals help your values get a grip on the road of life, as you drive forward.
“Goals help you hit the bullseye, not just the general target.”
There are different tools to help people set goals. Here is one that I have found to be helpful. It is called the S.M.A.R.T. Goal tool. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound.
Specific — Make sure your goals are distinct, and defined. “I want to become a healthier person” is not specific. “I will become healthier by losing weight” gives a more specific type of health plan you have in mind.
Measurable — Make sure you can use metrics for your goal. “I will lose weight” is not measurable. However, “I will lose 15 pounds” is measurable.
Achievable — Many people are thrown off course here. “I want to lose 15 pounds” is a great goal for some people. How will you achieve this goal? Have you tried before, but didn’t have a plan in place? Create a clear path to achieving your goals. “I will lose 15 pounds by exercising four times each week, and changing my caloric intake to _______ each day.”
Realistic — It isn’t realistic to say, “I’m going to lose 15 pounds by working out 7 days a week for 2 hours each day, and eating only prunes and drinking water.” That isn’t realistic. Also, that sounds terrible. Give yourself a realistic goal and say, “I will lose 15 pounds by exercising four times each week, and changing my caloric intake to _______ each day.”
Timebound — Finally, your goal needs to have a beginning and an end. I recommend for a general S.M.A.R.T. goal no longer than 6 weeks. Often, 3 weeks is even better because you begin to have some momentum 3 weeks into your goal. “I will become healthier by losing 15 pounds by exercising four times each week, and changing my caloric intake to _______ each day for the next 6 weeks.”
When you accomplish your goals, you’ll gain some traction. Once you have some traction, you’ll find you’re driving forward with momentum. When you gain momentum, you will find life to be more enjoyable. Just remember this. Make sure your goals are aligned with your values. Otherwise, you’ll just have a lot of momentum taking you in the wrong direction.
Questions For Application:
- What has kept you from reaching your goals in the past?
- What is one practical step you can take towards setting and reaching a new goal?