Begin with the end in mind.
Think back to a time where you were traveling somewhere new. Did you just stumble into the airport and pick a random flight? Or did you look at a map ahead of time and plan a specific destination?
Chances are you found out where you wanted to go before you set out on your journey.
The same is true for self-improvement and life. If you don’t have a destination, you’ll wander. The first step to any successful self-improvement journey is to have a clearly defined end state, aka GOAL.
By having clear goals, it is easier to chose your route.
Two keys to goal setting that have helped me most are having SMART goals and goals of varied length.
Chose SMART Goals
A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. By using this format for your goals, you’ll have a well defined goal set that you can track progress towards.
Specific: Well defined. Clear. For example, “become a famous fiction writer” rather than, “be famous.”
Measurable: Quantifiable. Able to track progress and see how far away the goal is. Think “how many?” or “how much?” For example, “Lose 10 lbs” rather than “lose weight.”
It’s difficult to track progress toward vague or general goals such as “be nicer” or “read more.” These goals don’t give any relevant details as to the amount or benchmark you are looking to reach. Is “more” 1 page, 100 pages, a book, or 10 books?
Make your goals measurable by adding an amount or quantity. Set goals such as “say 4 nice things to strangers”, “read 1 book”, and “lose 10 lbs.” By making goals measurable, it is easier to gauge progress and success.
Achievable: Within the scope of your ability.
Of course we want to challenge ourselves, but our goals have to be within the realm of possibility to keep us motivated. You probably won’t be able to lose 50 pounds in a week or earn a million dollars in a month, but if you do, let me know, we seriously need to talk!
Relevant: Clearly applicable to a desired outcome. “Working out 3 times a week will directly help me reach my target weight.”
Timely: Have clear deadlines.
Sure, your goal can be to lose 10 pounds but how long do you have to achieve it? If you lose that weight over 3 years than is it really something you were striving for?
These examples can become timely with some small tweaks. Just as we added an amount or quantity to make the goals measurable, we can give them an estimated length to give us a deadline. We could say we want to “say 4 nice things to strangers this week”, “read 1 book in 1 month”, and “lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks.”
Adding the time factor will give your goals more urgency. If you don’t set deadlines for yourself, you will never actually accomplish your tasks.
Now these are looking like some SMART goals!
Make your goals specific and measurable so that you have clearly defined benchmarks to track your progress and give yourself a realistic timeline to complete them.
Vary Goal Length
Have a mix of short, medium, and long range goals.
Having only long term goals can make it harder to keep motivated in the beginning and likewise having only short term goals can lead to not pushing yourself over time.
The three types of goals that I recommend are 1 month experiments, 6 month projects, and 1 year dream shots.
I have found that 1 month experiments are the best way to test habits or changes to see if they are effective, doable, or something I want to continue for longer.
In the same way, having a 6 month project gives you something to shoot for in the near future that you can see fairly quick progress on. 6 month projects can be challenging to stick to but they are where a lot of your personal growth can stem from.
A longer 1 year dream shot allows you to really push yourself. Don’t be afraid to make these 1 year goals a stretch, a year is a long time and a lot can happen.
Personally, I don’t think much more than a year ahead. I have a general vision of what I want 3 to 5 years from now but too much will change by then for me to actually make specific goals. But that’s just me, do what works for you!
By mixing the length of your goals, you’ll have longer challenges that help keep your eye on the big prize and shorter goals to build your confidence and skills on the way.
- Think of 1 of your biggest 1 Year goals and comment them below, make sure it is a SMART Goal.
- Share this post if you found it helpful!