How To Set Goals For Next Year

S.M.A.R.T. Instructions And Other Tips To Help Make 2014 And Beyond Fulfilling

Do you wish things – like your job, your personal relationships, or your physical well-being – were different?

Or have you actually set goals to make desired things in your life different?

Distinguishing differences between goals and wishes, and then taking action, were key takeaways from a recent seminar by Indy area business coach C. J. McClanahan.

Wishes are things you’d like to have or do at some point, but haven’t yet committed to acquiring or experiencing them.  They can include pie-in-the-sky dreams like winning the lottery, or more attainable “want to” experiences like traveling to New Zealand or changing your career course.

For starters, a want remains a wish instead of becoming a goal when left vague.

“If you achieved it, how would I know it?” McClanahan asked his audience when addressing overly general desires such as ‘I’d like to make more money’ or ‘I want to be successful’.  “I always ask ‘how much more money’ do you want to earn?  Or ‘ well then what does success look like?”

To that end McClanahan advocates using the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal setting, an acronym used to describe key principles to help accomplish aspirations.  S.M.A.R.T goals are the following:

Specific – Stating exactly what you want to accomplish (who, what, where and why).
Measurable – You must be able to evaluate and judge if the goal has been met.
Achievable – It needs be something that can actually be accomplished, not a far-fetched dream.
Relevant – It must be appropriately related to your responsibilities, situation or purpose, and preferably something you emotionally connect with.
Time-bound – By when will it happen?  This establishes a sense of urgency and prevents goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably come up.

But while goal setting is a critical first step to achieving what you want, just putting goals on paper doesn’t automatically translate in to results.  You need a plan of action to achieve your S.M.A.R.T. goals and McClanahan offered more advice on how to get it done.

First, he said, break down your long term goals in to several more near term objectives.  These are more focused and linear steps on the way to the end goals you’ve set.

Next, don’t focus on the intermediate results.  Instead concentrate on behaviors, on weekly tactics you need to achieve short term objectives, and analyze them.

How do you monitor this?  Simple, yet something the majority of people don’t do.  Review your upcoming week in advance and make sure your tasks are in line with accomplishing your shorter term objectives.  This doesn’t need to be oodles of time, either; just 10-15 minutes of thought to make sure you’re on track.

So really, working to achieve goals – S.M.A.R.T. ones or not – comes down to the old adage “plan your work, and work your plan”.

Wishing you a prosperous 2014 and beyond!