Another New Year is upon us, where did the last one go? Sometimes it seems like I’m still preparing to celebrate the new millennium, yet here we are almost a decade into it! With every New Year we have the obligatory resolutions, I’m going to lose weight, exercise, save money, get out of debt and so on. Yet the majority of those resolutions don’t make it past the first few weeks. If you need proof just check out the crowds at the local gyms, most of those people will be gone before spring arrives.
What happens to those resolutions? Resolutions, by their very nature, are doomed to fail. They are nothing more than vague wishes or ideas of what could be. To have a better chance of actually achieving something worthwhile we need to set goals. A goal differs from a resolution in that it is much more specific and has a date attached to it.
The SMART System
When setting goals you should follow the acronym SMART.
Specific means that your goals are very detailed. Measurable means that they can be quantified and tracked to monitor your progress. Attainable means that they can be achieved with the proper effort and are not “pie in the sky”. Realistic means that they can be accomplished given the reality of your life and circumstance. Timely means that they have a set date to be achieved by.
I started setting real goals about twenty years ago. Prior to that I just had a general idea of things that I wanted to do. When I started setting goals I was able to create action plans to make them happen. It was at this time that I started having real success in life. Before that time I was just wandering through. Goal setting has since become an annual exercise with adjustments taking place as the year progresses.
The goals that you set should be a little bit of a stretch without being so difficult that they are impossible to achieve. In addition to business goals you should have personal and family goals as well. One important step is to share them with others. By openly stating your intentions you are holding yourself accountable. If you do not state your goals it is very easy to let them fall by the wayside.
About fifteen years ago a friend introduced me to a process that he called Dreams to Reality Mapping. The idea was to create a visual map of your goals, or a Dream Board. A group of us got together over beer and pizza and created these boards by cutting pictures out of magazines and pasting them onto a piece of posterboard. The board was then placed in a frame and hung where it would be seen on a daily basis.
The truth of the matter is that I was there for the beer and the pizza, I did not put much stock into any of this hocus-pocus. I did hang the frame up where I would walk past it everyday but I ignored it from that point on. A little over a year later something made me take a look at that board. I was absolutely shocked when I realized that I had achieved everything on it.
It’s not like I put little things on that board. I had a trip to Paris on there, I went there when I came across an unbelievable deal on airfare. I had an Acura Legend on the board, which, at the time, was way beyond my means. I also had my first rental property on there as well as some other minor things that also came to pass.
So how did I achieve all of this? I didn’t inherit money or marry a wealthy woman. What happened was that as I passed by that board every day the visual images were being imprinted in my subconscious. That daily reminder kept me working towards my goals and kept them in focus.
A Great 2008
As we head into 2008 take the time to write down some goals. Be as specific as possible and set a deadline. Share those goals with others and create your own dream board. Review those goals periodically and evaluate how you are doing. Was last year one in which you said “boy, I’m glad I did” or “man, I wish I had”? Now is your chance to make this a great year!
A goal is a dream with a deadline. – Napolean Hill