Some love it. Some hate it. But no one can argue against the proven benefits of effective goal setting for individuals, teams and organisations.

We’re coming toward the end of June – almost half way through 2010!
It’s about now that I normally check on my goals for the year and see how I’m tracking. A year is too long to get my head around, and I don’t feel like I can get a lot done in a month. So I prefer to break my annual goals down to quarterly and half-yearly targets to see how I’m tracking.

I’m a great believer in SMART goal setting, you’ve probably heard of it, but here is my take on it.

Specific: This should have three parts. The ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’. What am I going to do? Why am I going to do it? How I’m going to get it done?

Measurable: A goal like ‘learn Spanish’ is too vague; it needs to be worded in such a way so that you know when you’ve got there. For example ‘Within a 10 minute chat with a Spanish girl, impress her enough for her to buy me a drink’.

Achievable and Realistic (but Exciting): Think ‘Edge of Stretch!’ A goal can’t be too easy – I try to set my goals at a level so that I wonder if I can really achieve it. It’s all about being at a level that is neither in my comfort zone, or that I am panicking to get through each day.

On the other hand it can’t be impossible either. If you want to earn a $1m ina couple days then you might have trouble. There has to be at least a chance of getting your goal done in the time frame that you have set yourself. A good benchmark is to see if someone else has done something similar.

Time bound: Otherwise it’s not a goal, it’s a dream. Simple.

Hopefully by now you have clarity. Now to SMART, add ARSE. Sorry, but you won’t forget it!

Act now! – There is magic and power in getting started. As soon as you start chipping away at a goal I find I feel a million times better and far more empowered. A useful rule that Tony Robbins suggests is that you should never leave a goal without doing something toward it.

Review/Remind – Don’t put those goals in a drawer – make sure they stay in front of you. Put them on the bathroom mirror. Put them on the back door of the loo. My favourite is putting them as a screensaver on my computer.

Simplify – What? Not making any progress? Break it down until it is something you can do – today! Make a phone call, research something on the web. Anything hard or difficult can be made simpler.

Engage others – Get other people involved! Tell people what you are trying to do so that you feel like you have to do it! Read my article about putting yourself on the hook!

The point of goal-setting is to get a better outcome than if you hadn’t had it. If you only get half way – you’re half way closer than if you had done nothing. Don’t stop because you aren’t achieving as fast as you should. Remember that this is a game, and that you should enjoy the progress towards the goal as well!

Drop me a line at [email protected] if this has helped you, or add a comment below how you defined you last goal.

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