If you answered “no” to the question above, by acting on the information in this article, you’ll be initiated into an elite club that, by estimations, only three percent of the world’s population choose to be apart of. Whether you’re a jobseeker or gainfully employed, an employer with one employee or one thousand, if you don’t set goals for yourself, you’re potentially cheating yourself out of the life of your dreams.
A now famous study of a typical Harvard University class in 1979 revealed thirteen percent of students set goals for themselves and only three percent actually wrote them down along with plans on how to achieve them.
10 years later the follow up study revealed the thirteen percent of the class who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent who had no goals at all.
The follow up study revealed the three percent who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent put together.
While writing a goal down is a great step toward making your dreams come true, don’t be fooled into thinking this act alone will make your goals magically achieve themselves. The key ingredient to achieving anything in life is still hard work, but writing goals down gets you started. What helps more is to make sure your goals are well written and one of the most accepted methods for making sure of this is the SMART method.
The SMART method turns your initial desire from a dream into a goal by making sure your goal addresses 5 key criteria; is your goal Specific, is there a way of Measuring success, is it Achievable, is it Realistic and what Timeframe have you given yourself to achieve it. Often our first goals look like this: I’d like to lose weight. After applying the SMART method our goal would end up being “I want to lose 5kg before 1st March 2013 by walking for 30 minutes, 3 times a week”.
S is for Specific: Your goal must be specific so you know exactly what you’re trying to achieve and so can channel your energy toward achieving it. As with the above example saying “I’d like to lose weight” is not specific enough. Rewriting that statement to say “I’d like to lose 5kgs” is a better goal because it is more definitive.
M is for Measured: Your goal needs an indicator to tell you when the goal will be accomplished. Using weight loss scenario again, simply saying “I want to lose weight” will make the goal impossible to measure. By changing the statement to say “I’d like to lose 5kgs”, you make success very easy to gauge; lose the 5kgs and you will reach your goal!
A is for Achievable: Your goal should be to aim high, to stretch yourself, however your goal still needs to be reachable. Saying “I’ll lose 100kgs this year” when no one in history has done it before, might be too much. By all means aim aim to exceed what has been done before, however don’t aim too far beyond that, then treat anything you achieve beyond that as a bonus. If you’re trying to smash a record, consider going after it in stages.
R is for Realistic: Being realistic takes your personal situation into account. Saying you’ll lose 20kgs by exercising 20hrs a week is one thing, but actually doing it week in week out is another. Think deeply about your current situation and the steps required to achieve your goal and make sure that achieving the goal won’t throw your life out of balance and be to the detriment of another aspect of your life.
T is for Timeframe: Your goal should contain a timeframe in which you aim to achieve it in. Consider all of the other SMART points before making this decision. Saying you’ll lose 5kgs before March is a great goal, but what if you’re booked on a cruise ship in late February? Will this impact your ability to reach your target within the timeframe? There is nothing wrong with setting a slightly longer timeframe to account for “life”.
As you can see each of the SMART attributes rely heavily on one another to ensure your goal is as robust as possible. You will need to take them all into consideration when finalising your goals to ensure the best possible chance at success. If you’re new to goal setting, I’d suggest starting small. Consider starting with one thing you’d really like to achieve and then hone all your efforts on achieving just that one goal.
Setting goals is your surefire way of getting all you want out of this life. Dreams are good, however goals are better and simply writing them down will dramatically improve your chances of achieving them. Remember if you’re going through life aiming at nothing, don’t be surprised if you end up achieving exactly that. Think about it.
If you’re interesting in finding more about about goal setting and the profound effect it can have on your life, the interweb is absolutely littered with information on the topic. If it’s a little overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, feel free to contact us and we’ll happily steer you towards some of our favourites resources. We hope you decide to join the club!