Smart Goal Setting
Life is challenging and you will be tested. You must have the right mindset and a smart goal setting plan in place to help you get thru the tough times.
Your dreams aren’t going to magically appear within your comfort zone. Instead, if you want to achieve your dreams, you’re going to leave your comfort zone behind. You’re going to traverse the vast wilderness, the vast unknown, full of scary things.
You may feel lost, and you may feel like quitting. You’ll hear your heart pounding loudly in your ears. You’ll feel the wetness of tears on your cheeks. You’ll feel your resolve weakening.
At this point, the majority of everyone who’s ever had the courage to leave their comfort zones behind, give up. They break down. They surrender to their failures. They succumb to the obstacles. They turn around to where they came from. They hide again in their comfort zones, never to resurface ever again.
The unknown abyss beyond your comfort zone is extremely tough. If you’re not mentally, emotionally, and physically ready, you’re not going to get very far before you pack up and head home.
The smart thing to do
So, how do you get from point A (that’s your comfort zone) to point B (your dreams)? Well, the smart thing to do would be to prepare for your journey. You can’t just wing it and expect to succeed.
It’s like going on a month-long holiday abroad without planning ahead. You only buy the tickets to your destination, but you don’t know where you’re going to be staying. You don’t know anything about the place. You don’t know the culture, the people, you basically know nothing apart from the name of the place!
Things can quickly go downhill the moment you arrive. You could get lost, you could get robbed, you could get hurt. And you don’t want that to happen to you.
Just like your vacation, your dreams need serious planning if you want to succeed. Otherwise, you wouldn’t know which way is up and which way is down.
Setting SMART Goals
Smart goals aren’t the same as your regular, run-of-the-mill goals. You don’t just say your goal is to become a successful businessman someday. That’s just some generic goal. It’s what most people would say. Chances are those people aren’t any closer to achieving their generic goals, too.
So, what do you do? You start out by actually taking the time to define your goals. Smart goals don’t take 5 seconds to create. Smart goals require you to go deep within yourself, to uncover what you really want.
To begin with, your smart goal should meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. It means the following: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-sensitive.
Based on this criteria, you can see right away that a simple goal of becoming a ‘successful businessman someday’ is not going to cut it. If you want to become a successful businessman someday, you need to refine your goals to fit the S.M.A.R.T. criteria.
You can ask questions like these:
- What kind of business would you like?
- Do you want to create your business from scratch?
- Should you buy a franchise?
- What industry do you want to do business in?
- Do you have sufficient capital to fund your business?
- If no, how do you plan to acquire capital?
- What’s your timeline for your goal? Three years? Ten?
As you can see, defining a SMART goal isn’t going to be easy like your random generic goal. You’ll need to write your thoughts and weigh your options. What are the pros and cons of every option you’re considering?
Yes, your SMART goal will make you flex your brain. But ultimately, it’s the right – and only – thing to do. With a SMART goal, you’re eliminating much of the guesswork. You won’t be second-guessing yourself all the time, which only slows you down. You already know what you want.
All you have to do next is to make sure you don’t ever forget your SMART goal. You can start by writing it down in your journal. You can print out several copies of your goal and then tape it or hang it somewhere you’ll see it frequently.
A SMART goal will help you reach your goals more efficiently and more effectively. Yes, you’ll still need to navigate the murky and scary unknown that lies beyond your comfort zone. But now, you’ll be prepared and better equipped.
Creating Your Action Plan
Creating and defining your SMART goal is important. But you don’t just stop there. If you do, then who’s to say your goal is actually smart?
A SMART goal is accompanied by a smart action plan. An action plan that doesn’t stop at 2 sentences or a single paragraph. Instead, you need an action plan that will outline all the major steps you need to take so you can get to your goals, your destination, your point B.
If you don’t want to get lost on your journey, you need a solid plan. It’s going to be your roadmap to success.
A sense of direction
Imagine for a moment you’re going away on a road trip to a destination far, far away. Say, a thousand miles away. You’reholding a map in your hands. You circle your current location, and you draw a second circle for your destination.
Then you connect the two circles. But you don’t just draw a straight line. What you do instead is you look for the closest distance between the two circles because there’s probably more than one way to get to your destination.
You choose a good route – one that goes through highways instead of back roads. You put a star next to each major city or town you’re going to be passing through. You’ll probably spend the night there.
Planning a 1,000-mile road trip is the same as planning your path to success. You can’t just say you know the general direction of your destination. You need to plan ahead if you want to reach your destination faster. If you don’t plan the details, you’ll be wasting days on the road.
It’s all about the details
Success is a lot of work, isn’t it? First, you have to define a goal that meets the SMART criteria. Then you have to create a detailed action plan that will show you exactly how you can get from point A to point B, a thousand miles away.
Most people won’t have the patience to do all these steps. They’d think doing all this planning is silly and a waste of their time. They’ll think, “I already know where I’m going. That’s all I need to know.” So, they’ll skip the planning part, jump into their cars and go on their thousand-mile road trip.
Funny thing is several miles later you’ll see them by the side of the road. Their cars have broken down (nope, they didn’t check if their cars could actually survive the long journey) or they’ve run of fuel.
You, on the other hand, will be happily driving along until you get to your destination. Your thorough planning has paid off!
Now, your dreams and your goals need to be planned out the same way. You can start by breaking down your main goal into smaller chunks. If you’ve given yourself 10 years to achieve your goals, then you need to break it down into 1-year goals, 2-year goals, and so on.
By the end of the first year, you should have accomplished milestone 1. By the end of the second year, you should have achieved milestone 2, so on and so forth.
While annual goals are great, they’re still a little too big to be easily accomplished. So, you need to break your goals down into weekly or monthly goals, keeping in mind what you need to achieve by the end of the year.
It’s much easier to tick off a daily or weekly to-do list than a yearly to-do list. When you’re crossing items off your list, you feel a rush of satisfaction. You feel productive. You feel proud of yourself.
If you don’t break your big goals into smaller, easy-to-achieve mini-goals, you may lose motivation. You’d feel like you’re not taking enough action. Your fears and insecurities will start creeping in again, and you could potentially undo all the hard work you’ve put in so far.