Without goals, whether personal or professional, it is easy to get off track. Goals provide a clear motivation and ideal end result. You must figure out exactly what you want in order to come up with a plan to achieve it.
However, generally stating what you want is not enough. If your goals are to “to make more money” or “to be happy” these statements are not specific enough. I call them attitude statements. They are “fake” goals, not real ones.
Many people confuse attitude statements and actual goals. Although a positive attitude is important, attitude statements are abstract, have no deadline, are difficult to define and are difficult measure. Goals are concrete, have a deadline, are easy to define and are easy to measure.
Get SMART with your goals. The more clear and defined your goals, the easier they will be to accomplish.
- Specific: precisely states what it is you want to achieve.
- Measurable: set clear definitions so you can track your progress and stay on track.
- Attainable: action-oriented. Use positive language and action verbs to describe your plan.
- Realistic: set goals you will be able to reach. Expect obstacles and have a plan to deal with them.
- Time-Bounded: know exactly when you will begin and finish each part of your goal.
Goals help turn your dreams into reality. After determining your SMART goal process, you can proceed on the path to see real results. Start with your dreams, then consider your values, attitude statements, written goals and action plans.
- Dreams: What you want to have or become one day.
- Values: Who you are as a person. Make sure your goals are aligned with what you care about most in life.
- Attitude statements: Fake goals; they are not specific enough to provide meaningful focus.
- Written goals: They are “SMART.” Make them specific and meaningful. Use deadlines and quantification. Leave little to chance.
- Action plans: Detailed and specific steps to accomplish your goal. These are actually “mini-goals.” Each of your bigger goals is likely to have 10, 15, 20 or more action steps.
When you are unclear of what you are trying to do or accomplish, it is easy to waste time, resources and opportunities. It is also difficult to determine what impact, if any, you might be having. Without goals, you are not a professional. You are merely an amateur. With clearly written and planned goals, you increase your chances of getting what you want. It’s really that simple.