We all have goals, but often they are lost in the clutter of daily life and pushed into the back of our minds while we casually go through the motions.
I want to challenge you to change that narrative.
Goals are the driving force in our lives. They are what keep us progressing in the gym, in the office, and in our relationships. They give us direction and purpose. Don’t wait until the new year to make a resolution. Instead, start now by setting SMART goals, writing them down, and reverse engineering the process to accomplish them.
SMART is an acronym used to set goals. A SMART goal is:
- Define the goal as vividly and in-depth as possible
- Answer the 5 W’s
- Who is involved?What do I want to accomplish?
- Where will it be done?
- Why am I doing this?
- Which constraints and/or requirements do I have?
- Make sure you are able to evaluate the extent to which your goal has been met
- How much, how many, how will I know when my goal is accomplished?
- Make sure the goal is challenging but within your ability to reach
- Is the goal reasonable enough to be accomplished?
- Make sure the goal fits with your other short and long term objectives
- Is the goal worthwhile and will it meet my needs?
- Make sure the goal has a deadline or target date
- When exactly should this goal be accomplished?
I start my goal-setting process with this acronym because it provides a specific criteria by which all objectives can be defined. It ensures that my goals are well thought out and have purpose. Clearly, “get in better shape” isn’t going to cut it.
I don’t put a limit on how many I set, but I think it’s good practice to focus on 5-10 short-term goals (1-2 years) that may ultimately lead to 1 or 2 long-term (10+ years). I also think it’s important to set goals in a variety of areas in your life (health, business, finances, relationships, personal development, etc.). This will prevent you from going “all-in” on one subject while neglecting the others.
Don’t rush this process. Take some time to really define your goals. Ask yourself why you want to accomplish these things, and how they will impact your life. If you already have some goals, run them through this system and see if they check out. And if you don’t have any, then now is a perfect time to start.
Write Down Your Goals
After you’ve thought of a few SMART goals, the next step is to write them down. It may sound trivial, but I can’t speak enough to how important this is. I adopted this practice after reading The Mindset Manual by Cory Gregory, in which he discusses his dozens of notebooks full of crazy dreams throughout the years.
Writing down your goals makes them real.
It gives them weight.
Putting pen to paper is powerful, and it’s an exercise that’s becoming increasingly rare in today’s society. When you write down your goals, they aren’t easily forgotten. Even if your interests adjust and your goals change over time, you’re able to look back and know exactly where you were at that point in your life and what you were striving for.
Don’t just write your goals down once and throw them in the back of the closet, surround yourself with them.
Carry your notebook with you. Keep it in your car or by your bathroom sink or anywhere you’ll see it every day. Save your goals as a note on your phone. Make it so that you can’t hide from them. It’ll keep you honest and give you that extra push to go out and conquer your dreams. So grab a pen, grab a notebook, and get to writing.
Reverse engineering is a process I picked up from Gary Vaynerchuk. Essentially, it’s beginning with the end in mind. It’s starting with your end goal and working backward, step by step, to formulate a path to accomplish it.
Often times, people set such lofty goals that they get overwhelmed right off the bat and quit. They initially don’t see the results they want or progress is slower than expected and they give up. The key to making sure that doesn’t happen to you is reverse engineering.
The deadline on your big goal may be a year in the future so you think you have plenty of time to accomplish it, but don’t be that kid who waits til the night before a term paper is due to start writing. Set milestones for yourself along the way (and write them down). Monthly, weekly, and daily mini-goals will keep you on track.
That’s right, check yourself daily. Every day, ask yourself: Am I one step closer or one step further away from accomplishing my goal? The key is in those daily victories. Those small steps seem insignificant, but they compound over time. Before you know it, you’ll be taking huge strides toward achieving your dreams.