We’ve all heard about the power of setting goals. However, what most people do not realize is that the power of goal setting lies in writing goals down. Committing goals to paper and reviewing them regularly gives you a 95% higher chance of achieving your desired outcomes. Studies have shown that only three to five percent of people in the world have written goals – the same three to five percent who have to achieve success in business and earn considerable wealth.
These studies have also found that by retirement, only four percent of people in the world will have enough accumulated wealth to maintain their income level and quality of life. As a business owner, it is essential that you develop a plan for your retirement. It is equally essential that you develop a plan for your success.
What are Goals?
Goals are clear targets that are attached to a specific time frame and action plan; they focus your efforts and drive your motivation in a clear direction. Unlike dreams that are merely a vision of your wish or desire, goals outline a plan of action.
Goals require work; work on yourself, work for your business, and work for others. You cannot achieve a goal – no matter how badly you want it – without being prepared to make a considerable effort. If you are ready to invest your time and energy, goals will help you to:
- Realize a dream or wish for your personal or business life
- Make a change in your life – add positive, or remove negative
- Improve your skills and performance ability
- Start or change a habit – positive or negative
Creating SMART Goals
SMART goals are just that: smart. Whether you are setting goals for your personal life, your business, or with your employees, goals that have been developed with the SMART principle have a higher probability of being achieved.
The SMART Principle
Specific goals are clearer and easier to achieve than nonspecific goals. When writing down your goal, ask yourself the five “W” questions to narrow in on what exactly you are aiming for. Who? Where? What? When? Why?
For example, instead of a nonspecific goal like, “get in shape for the summer,” a specific goal would be, “go to the gym three times a week and eat twice as many vegetables.”
If you can’t measure your goal, how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Measurable goals help you clearly see where you are, and where you want to be. You can see change happen as it happens.
Measurable goals can also be broken down and managed in smaller pieces. They make it easier to create an action plan or identify the steps required to achieve your goal. You can track your progress, revise your plan, and celebrate each small achievement. For example, instead of aiming to increase revenue in 2009, you can set out to increase revenue by 30% in the next 12 months, and celebrate each 10% along the way.
Goals that are achievable have a higher chance of being realized. While it is important to think big, and dream big, too often people set goals that are simply beyond their capabilities and wind up disappointed. Goals can stretch you, but they should always be feasible to maintain your motivation and commitment.
For example, if you want to complete your first triathlon but you’ve never run a mile in your life, you would be setting a goal that was beyond your current capabilities. If you decided instead to train for a five-mile race in six months, you would be setting an achievable goal.
Relevant – or realistic – goals are goals that have a logical place in your life or your overall business strategy. The goal’s action plan can be reasonably integrated into your life, with a realistic amount of effort.
For example, if your goal is to train to climb to base camp at Mount Everest within one year and you’re about to launch a start-up business, you may need to question the relevance of your goal in the context of your current commitments.
It is essential for every goal to be attached to a time-frame – otherwise, it is merely a dream. Check in to make sure that your time-frame is realistic – not too short, or too long. This will keep you motivated and committed to your action plan, and allow you to track your progress.
Goals are clear targets that are attached to a specific time frame and action plan; they focus your efforts and drive your motivation in a clear direction. They help focus our time and energy on one (or several) key outcomes at a time.
Goals are different from dreams in that they outline a plan of action, while dreams are a conceptual vision of your wish or desired outcome.
Goals are more effective when you commit them to paper. It is not the size of the goal that matters; what matters is that you write the goal down and commit to making the effort required to achieve it.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
Be S.M.A.R.T. and outline clear goals for 2012.
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