Goal setting is a journey. Let’s start this journey with the end in mind. And I’m talking about the end. The when they’re writing your obituary end. Bleak? Maybe. But if you could look back on your life from that perspective, what do you see? What do you want?
For me, I look back, and I see a life lived in good health. I sort of envision a kind of younger-looking version of Jack LaLanne. Maybe someone like Sister Madonna Buder. I see someone who didn’t need a walker or a mobility scooter, right up until the end. (However, if I ever do need a mobility scooter, I call dibs on this one.)
What does it take to make it happen? I’m a firm believer in goal-setting. When I’ve done it, it works. If you’ve never set goals before, a quick run-down on some of the criteria that make a goal a good one. I like the “SMART” acronym, personally.
- Specific. Target a very specific area for improvement.
- Measurable. How will you know that you were successful/how successful were you?
- Attainable (or Achievable). Can it actually be done?
- Relevant. Does it really matter to you?
Trouble with “SMART” is that it means different things, depending on who you ask. For instance, some corporations use “A = Aligned with Corporate Goals”, which completely deludes both the company and the employee. More often than not, corporations are only interested in year-over-year goal-setting. But goals are really about making you great in the long-term, which in turn makes everything you do touched by greatness. In other words, if you take care of your personal life, your health and your career, everybody wins.
Let’s stick with “Attainable”, and focus on those three areas of life. We start with the end in mind, and work out the steps it’ll take to get there. Think long-term. That’s 10 years from now. What will you have achieved by then? Let’s try a fictitious goal as an example:
By January 2024, I have established a successful business, supplying widgets to the entire West Coast region.
And there it is. It’s got a deadline, and it’s pretty specific about how and what will be measured on that deadline. What’s more, it’s written in past tense, which is really just a trick to make you believe it. Moving on… backward:
By January 2019, I am Regional Sales Manager, Western Division for XYZ Mega Corp.
Cool. You’re going to need industry contacts. Your boss won’t be pleased that you’re thinking about spinning off that sales division into your own company, though. Best keep that under wraps for now. But wait — maybe, just maybe, they’ll even help — if you can show that the National Corporate Headquarters can benefit by lopping off the Western Division.
By January 2015, I’ve successfully completed a Continuing Education course about writing a successful business proposal.
That’s only a year off, so now is the time to act on it. This month, there are steps that you can take to attain that goal. You might not be able to start your company tomorrow, but you can certainly pick up the phone and enrol in a course that will help you get there.
Rinse, lather and repeat.
By September 2023, I have completed five iron-distance triathlons.
By April 2019, I have 2.5 children and a house with a picket fence.
The sky is the limit. Now try it in your own notebook. And feel free to add some of your goal ideas in the comments section. In Part Three (of what is becoming a poorly-planned three-part series in four [or more] parts), we’ll discuss some strategies for taking your goals from your notebook into reality.
All the best,