Napoleon Hill, in his book, Think and Grow Rich, stated that “a goal not written down is a mere wish.” He also said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” There is a lot of truth in both statements. I know that it’s early in the holiday season, but soon it will be New Year’s Eve we’ll all start to discuss our New Year’s resolutions and goals for next year. Unfortunately, most of us never write down our goals and therefore they’re just wishes for the future. There is no plan in place on how we are going to achieve them, so they are forgotten before the confetti is swept up! This is why most of us never achieve our goals.
I have succeeded in reaching many of my short-term and long-term goals by following a method that not only requires me to write them down but forces me to make a specific plan and look at it often. This reinforces how and what I am trying to achieve.
As a mentor, I often tell my students that they should start with the end in mind. Meaning start with what do you want people to say at your funeral? What kind of person do you want to be known as? What kind of legacy do you want to leave? Deep necessary thoughts to ponder. Only then you can start writing your personal goals.
There are many ways to think about goals and lots of advice out there. I like to break them up into a timeline. I find this the most effective for me. You start with lifetime goals, then long-term goals, then short-term goals, and then finally steppingstone goals. Assign them a timeline and then start being more specific.
In the business world, we always talk about having SMART goals. That means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. A goal without a measurable outcome is like having a football game without a scoreboard or scorekeeper. How are you going to know that you achieved it?
I also recommend that you break your goals up into five categories: Personal (this includes your relationships and family), Professional, Financial, Health and fitness, and Spiritual. You should have lifetime goals in all these categories. Then break them up into ten-year goals, five-year goals, one-year goals, and three-month goals.
It is helpful to actually then further define your goals into Process goals (what behavior or strategy are you going to use to reach your goal), Performance goals (what standards are you going to hold yourself to), and of course Outcome goals (the end results). By defining these three steps, you will find it easier to reach that outcome that you desire. Understand that you have the most control over the process and the least control of the outcome.
So, let me give you an example. My health and fitness lifetime goal might be to run a marathon in every state. My 10-year goal would be to have a run at least 20 marathons in those 10 years. My five-year goal would be to have run at least 10 marathons. My one-year goal could be to run my first marathon. My three-month goal would be to get in shape and run my first 10K. These are all reasonable goals for a newbie runner. But then I have to think about how am I going to get there?
So, I then need to take these goals and break them down further. Tackle the steppingstone goal first. My outcome goal is to run my first 10K in three months. My performance goal would be to run at least 30 minutes, three times a week, and at least an hour every weekend. My process goal would be to get in shape and move from walking to running.
Another example of this kind of goal setting that is for weight-loss. My health and fitness lifetime goal might be to stay healthy and fit until God takes me home, and be an excellent example of how your age is just a number and you’re able to maintain lifetime excellent health through a proper diet and regular exercise. My 10-year goal might be continuing to maintain whatever weight I decide is my perfect weight. My five-year goal might be to achieve that perfect weight. My one-year goal might be to lose 30 pounds. My three-month goal could be to lose 10 pounds.
I then have to define how I’m going to get there. My outcome goal in my first three-month period is to lose 10 pounds. My performance goal would be to lose weight by eating 1500 calories a day, utilizing a balanced low carbohydrate diet high in raw and cooked vegetables; ride my bike three times a week for 30 minutes, and drink eight glasses of water a day for three months. My process goal is to lose weight by decreasing calories, riding my bike and drinking water. You can see how these all work together to give you a better picture of how you’re going to achieve your goal.
I also find that you are more likely to achieve your goals if you make them a group effort. Find an accountability partner and continuously banter back-and-forth about your goals. It’s helpful if they are similar. If you want to run a marathon, join a running group and find someone that runs about the same pace that you do. It’s amazing how are you are so much more likely to show up at 5 AM on a Saturday morning when someone is waiting for you to start running.
Visual aids are also helpful. Some people make storyboards or goal boards. My daughter was famous for taking sticky notes and putting them on her bathroom mirror with her time goals for track and cross country. You can also make then the screensaver on your computer or your phone. No matter how you remind yourself, visualizing your goals daily really helps keep them in the forefront of your mind.
Lastly, I find that putting a reward for achieving your goals in writing is also very helpful. It could be as simple as, “if I run my first 10K, then I get to buy a new pair of running tights” or “After I finish my first marathon, I will go to Hot Springs, Arkansas for the weekend”. Just don’t make your award for a fitness goal a drinking binge or entire chocolate cake, that would be counterproductive. It would be like making your financial goal to be completely debt-free, then rewarding yourself by putting an Alaskan cruise on your credit card. I think you get the idea.
As we go into this holiday season of craziness, I want you to start thinking about what does 2020 look like? What steppingstone goals do you have that are will help you start down the road to those lifetime goals. Take the time to write them down and make a plan. You will thank me.
If you like this blog and want more from Dr. Crane on goals setting then click on the links below
Happy Goal Setting! And Achieving!