Do you ever struggle with moving forward on your personal or professional goals? How about completing them? I’m not talking about New Years Resolutions here, although the concept is similar.
I mentioned in a previous post (Move Forward, 30 Aug) that I wanted to work on content for the following areas:
1. identify your goals
2. determine a realistic path to those goals
3. identify success factors toward achieving those goals
4. staying motivated when progress is slower than expected
Here are some thoughts you can use to help you understand methods that many successful people use to achieve their goals. No one formula works for everyone, but these concepts can be adapted to your situation, and can help you Move Forward to success.
First, you have to identify your goals. Many people think this is as easy as saying “I want to lose weight”, or “I want to get my degree”. While it can be a good first step, these are far too generic and don’t give you a “finish line” to look forward to. You may have heard it before, but goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Here’s how that breaks down:
Specific – as in “lose 20 pounds” or “business degree”
Measurable – the “20 pounds” or “associates degree”
Achievable– could you lose 100 pounds if you weigh 140 pounds? Or achieve a PhD without first finishing a BA or BS?
Realistic – It may not be realistic to lose 20 pounds in a week, but in 6 months you could.
Time bound – Setting a time-frame is important to keep you moving forward.
Next, determine a realistic path to these goals.
To lose 20 pounds in 6 months, you may decide to reduce your sugar intake by switching to diet soda or water, and walking 2 miles per day. To finish an associates degree in 3 years, you may plan to take 2-3 classes per semester. This could take some research, depending on the goal. Don’t be afraid to ask someone with the right expertise to help you clarify your path. Remember, the top atheletes and business leaders in the world have coaches and mentors. You should too.
Now, identify success factors toward achieving the goals.
For 20 pounds in 6 months, you may want to see a 10 pound loss in 3 months to know you’re on course. For the degree, competing classes each semester would be your success factor as you move forward. Decide on these success factors at the beginning, but don’t be afraid to make adjustments as you progress. When life hits, as I describe next, make your tweaks and stay on course.
Does life make it tougher than you planned? You need to stay motivated during the progress and in case of any setbacks.
What if you injured your knee and couldn’t walk that first month? Maybe you didn’t lose a single pound that month. Look at the positive side; for instance, if you were able to reduce that sugar intake, you’ve done something to move in the right direction. Now look for options to walking, such as swimming or biking. This will keep you on the path and moving forward toward your goal.
Maybe your school doesn’t offer a class you need in your third semester. Find out what will be available next semester and get a jump on the materials. Buy a business book to read, and then another (or whatever your subject is) to stay on top of the learning. Not only will you learn something, but you’ll have additional sources to cite in reports in later classes. Plus, you’ll keep your momentum and have an easier time transitioning back into classwork.
You may have noticed I mentioned New Years Resolutions above. Some times people ask why those don’t work, but other goal setting methods do. Here’s the reason: If you’re not ready to pursue your goals today, how will setting an artificial date to wait and start ever work? Whether it’s January 17th, March 4th, August 9th, December 22nd or any other date, if you feel you need to start working on a goal, then start today. When you hear the words “I’m waiting for…” substitute “Here comes my excuse…” and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
Don’t try to burn yourself out by starting every one of your goals at once. Pick one goal, and get moving on it today. As you see success, you’ll know that you can look toward that next objective with confidence. Finish the first goal, and then start the next one. That’s not the definition of waiting, that’s prioritizing. Choose the goal you want to pursue, express it SMARTly, and begin moving forward…