I got everything I ever wanted because I set goals and developed a plan to accomplish them. Many of us want to be rich, own a house by the age of thirty and have a good career. Although these are wonderful outcomes, they are not goals. Goals must have certain characteristics so we can measure and monitor how well we are doing to achieve them.
Goals must be obtainable or realistic. Do not set yourself for failure by asking to accomplish too much or too soon. How do you know if they are realistic? Is it realistic to study five minutes and get an A on the test? Sometimes, but this is an exception! A plan to achieve the goal makes it realistic as long as it is possible. Let’s say I want to accumulate a million dollars at 25 years old. My plan is to save and invest $10,000 each year starting at 18 years old. Earning an eight percent return, you will only have $100,000 by your goal. This assumes you can save $10,000 each and every year and earn eight percent. The goal of $1,000,000 based on this plan makes it unrealistic to achieve by 25 years old.
Goals are personal, meaning they must be yours. Don’t let your best friend or parents decide what you want to do with your life. It is important to listen to the people who you love and respect; they may have life experiences that can benefit you. This can be positive and negative. Your parents can say you should be a doctor or you will never amount to anything. Either way, it is their opinion. It is up to you to determine your goals. You have to want it badly enough to do what is necessary to achieve it.
The more specific and clear a goal is the easier it is to make a plan to achieve the goal. If your goal is getting a good job, how do you define the word good? A goal should be clear to anyone who reads it. If you cannot measure your success, how will you know if you achieved it? Actually it is more important to measure your progress toward your goal so you can adjust your efforts.
Set an approximate time for achieving the goal. If the goal is not accomplished by the time you originally wanted, reassess and allocate more time to accomplish it. Sometimes goals are more challenging than we initially thought they would be. Without a timeframe, your goal is too vague.
So what does all this mean? If I set a goal of losing 25lbs. in 10 weeks, does it meet the goal characteristics? It is specific, realistic, personal, and can be achieved in 10 weeks. Breaking down goals into smaller goals help achieve the bigger goal. Losing 25lbs to most of us is huge, but a half a pound a day is something you can understand. More involved goals require a more detailed plan.