Setting goals is important. Think of the saying "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there".Setting goals can help solidify what you really want in business and in life. It also helps you in your strategic planning. How can you plan for an unknown? However, you need to set some guidelines for yourself when you do it, or it won't be effective. This is why we have the SMART process for goal setting. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed. Let's look at each part in turn.
You need to be clear in your goal. Don't say "I want to network more", say "I want to join BNI and the Chamber this year".
Saying "I want to make more money" or "I want to spend more time with my family" doesn't really give you clarity. How do you know if you reached you goal or not? A better way would be "I want to earn $50,000 in 2012" or "I will take every weekend off work and spend that time with my family".
You need to keep your goals realistic. If you're used to earning $50,000, don't set a goal to earn $1,000,000 in 2014. You'll be setting yourself up to fail. For income goals, to keep it realistic, shoot for not more than 150% of your best year. This keeps it realistic, while still significant.
Your goal must serve a purpose, otherwise you won't work to attain it. What net effect will it have on your life? If achieving your goal doesn't make your life better in some way, why bother?
Set a time limit. Again, this helps you measure your progress. If your goal is two join two networking organizations, set a date to do that by, or you aren't likely to do so. If your goal is to run a 5k race, say you'll do it by August 30th. This gives you time to train, but also gives you a date to work toward.
I would like to close with a quote from former NFL running back Emmitt Smith, from his 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech:
"I wrote down my goals and how I was going to achieve them because Dwight Thomas used to tell us, It's only a dream until you write it down, and then it becomes a goal. By the time I was 20, I wrote, I want to play in the Super Bowl, be the MVP, become the all-time leading rusher, and finish college, because I promised my mother I would. Over the course of my career, all of those things came to pass, and I know that writing down my goals was an essential strategy."
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