Goal Setting - The Path to Living the Life of Your Dreams.
Studies have shown that people that put their goals in writing are more likely to enjoy a better life! In my experience I have found that there are generally five key criteria for goal setting:
1. They start with your dreams.
2. From a list of dreams you select something that you believe you can accomplish in the next year, this is your goal. Goals longer than a year are often a compilation of one year or shorter goals that lead to the achievement of the long term goal.
3. You must give a lot of thought about YOUR goal and make sure it is in alignment with YOUR key values. If your goals are not in alignment with the things that are most important to you, even the accomplishment of the goal will not bring you long term happiness. IE: If your goal is to take a $20,000 vacation to Europe in the next twelve months but you determine that to accomplish that will divert necessary money from your child's education fund (and if it is MORE important TO YOU that you give your child an opportunity for continuing education) you will not enjoy that vacation. You would be better off continuing your investment into the college fund and either scale down your vacation or adjust your vacation goal to: I will save $10,000 towards a Europe vacation in the next twelve months and then plan your vacation 20-24 months in the future.
4. Once you have a goal in writing that is believable to you and in alignment with your values you must create an Action Plan. Your plan must include all the things you need to know and do, people that can help you, resources that you will need and then organized in a step by step manner. It takes time to create an effective Action Plan. Sometimes all the steps are pretty clear to you, other times you have no clue and the only first step you can come up with is that in order to accomplish the goal you need to find someone or some resource that can give you guidance and then build your plan from there.
5. YOU MUST work your plan daily, weekly, monthly - TAKE ACTION.
Now that we have covered the key criteria, let us explore each in more detail:
DREAMS - It all starts with your dreams. Have you ever taken the time to just sit down and write all the things you ever wanted to do, accomplish, see, or have. Most people spend more time planning vacations then planning their life.
Schedule an hour with yourself and sit someplace quiet and start writing your dreams on a piece of paper. Unlike goals your dreams DO NOT have to be something you even believe you can accomplish, so don't hold back write down everything, even if you have no idea how you could make it happen. Whatever comes to mind write it, do not analyze, you can always go back and remove it later. Often you will find in life that your original dreams list will be added too and reduced as your life experiences occur.
A word of caution about dreams. Share your dreams only with people that are not judgmental and whose lives are not affected significantly by the pursuit of YOUR dreams. Since the accomplishment of your dreams may not be even realistic to you, often our family and friends will see them the same way and feel free to share their opinions. Also if your dreams alter their lives in some way that they may not have thought about, it will be natural for their initial reaction to be less then enthusiastic.
GOALS and VALUE ALIGNMENT - From your list of dreams pick something that excites you and even though it may be difficult, your mind believes that you can achieve it in the next twelve months. Then think and visualize the goal as if you have already achieved it. Focus on the feelings that you get from that accomplishment. How do the people that are closest to you feel? How was their life both positively and negatively affected by your efforts toward the achievement of that goal? How do YOU feel when weighed against the experiences of others? Once you understand the costs and benefits of achieving your goal and you have determined that the benefits outweigh any costs, you are ready to put your goal in a written format that will propel you towards its achievement.
Be specific about your goal, IE: I will travel to Italy and explore Venice, Tuscany, Rome, Pompeii and Sorrento enjoying all the history, arts and culture. My Tour of Italy will begin on _____________ and I will return home with a wonderful life experience on ___________. As opposed to: I will visit Italy by __________________.
A word of caution about goals: Working towards the achievement of your goals will not be pure bliss, in fact you will come upon obstacles and setbacks at a more rapid pace than you did previously if you have not had this habit in the past. If you are like me the excitement of achieving your goals will propel you past those obstacles
Here is a format that I created to put my goals and action plans in writing. Use and share it if you think it will help you and others.
Goal Statement: Starting today, ___________,2____ I Will_______________________
______________________________________by ____________, 2________.
The achievement of this goal will make me feel:_________________________________
It is in positive alignment with what is most important to me.
To Accomplish this Goal I will Commit to the Following Action Plan:
More on goals that I have found helpful:
Keep your goals in a place you will see them every day.
Share your goals with those positively affected, supportive or those that will push you toward their achievement.
Find a photograph or create a collage and place it in a place you will see daily or create a screen saver for your computer.
I keep a copy of my goals in a word document right on my desktop so I can read them daily.
Do you have ideas on goal setting? Please share.
Art Ferrara GRI, e-PRO
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