Thursday, April 8, 2010

Much Ado About Goals

"If you don't design your own life plan, chances are, you'll fall into someone else's plan.  And guess what they have planned for you?  Not much." - Jim Rohn
The fourth month of the new year is just beginning, but now is still a great time to talk about goals.  I actually had another post planned before this one, but this is SO important to discuss.  This may end up being a series that gets updated or revisited from time to time. 

Some of you may be saying, "She's all late and wrong.  I made my New Years Resolutions like 4 months ago.  How is she gonna come in here talking about goals now?"  Two things:  One- new Years Resolutions are not goals and two- month four just started.  How are your resolutions holding up?  Broken yet or just about broken?  Hmm... What's with the silence?  *wink*

It's still pretty early in the year, you still have 8 months to go after all, so I figured that it was still a good time to write your goals, (for those who haven't), or write them the right way, (for those who did resolutions).

Now some of you may be wondering what my beef is with resolutions.  Actually, I have no beef at all.  I'm glad that people thought about something that they hope will change in the new year, BUT a resolution is just a start.  People tend to make them and then stop there.  In essence, it's simply a wish.  You wish that you would lose weight or quit smoking or cut down on spending.   

After the wishes are made, people wing it and hope for the best.  "This is my last pack of ciggies and then I'm going cold turkey."  "I will only eat vegetables and drink water for the rest of my life.  Yeah... I'll be skinny in no time."  "I'm cutting up all of my credit cards.  That should keep me from spending."  Clearly, all of these are pretty extreme.  They are desperate plans: not well thought out or realistic.

A goal, on the other hand, is more defined.  It is something that was thought out in great detail.  There is a workable plan involved.  A GOOD goal includes EXACTLY what you want, what you hope to get by achieving it, and is something that pushes you, but is achievable.

One of the best ways to know that you set a good goal is by using the "SMART model".  It is said that Peter Drucker was the originator of this concept, but it isn't completely clear.  There are a few people claiming the credit.

S is specific
M is measurable
A is attainable
R is realistic
T is timely

Be specific - "Be healthy" is very vague. What exactly does "healthy" mean? Are you referring to blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, or something else?  You have to get more detailed in what you want, because if you don't how do you know if you've achieved your goal or not?  More importantly, how do you know how to work towards achieving your goal?

Show measurement - You have to be able to measure your goal.  What does achievement look like?  Pounds.  Inches.  Time.  Distance.  Something.  There has to be a way of determining whether or not you achieved the goal.  The above goal, "be healthy" or "lose weight" is not measurable.  A goal to lose 10 pounds by June of this year is measurable and specific.

Can you reach this goal? - Writing down a lofty goal that is virtually impossible for you to achieve is a set up for failure.  That, my friends, is bad for business.  The reason to set achievable goals is that you have to work towards achieving them and when you achieve them, you experience a bit of pride, a shot of confidence, and a sense of victory.  This helps to build your self esteem.  Don't set your goals too low, either.  You won't be too concerned with reaching them, because it isn't really a challenge.

Can this goal be a reality for you? - A goal has to be realistic.  It has to make sense.  A goal for me to lose 120 pounds in 1 year is specific, measurable, and attainable, albeit risky, but it is not a realistic goal.  I know me very well and the things that I would have to do to achieve that goal are things that I would NEVER do!  That fact makes this goal a pipe dream aka unrealistic.

When do you hope to achieve the goal? - Next week?  In a month?  By the end of the year?  January 14, 2012?  All goals need to have a "deadline" to work towards in order to keep you engaged, motivated, and focused.

I wrote out a list of goals for different areas in my life.  I didn't think about it, honestly.  It was more of a brainstorm.  I thought about the things that I wanted to achieve by the end of the year and wrote them down as they came to mind.  I started going back through them to rephrase and reformat them so that they are SMART goals that make better sense.  I'll share a few here to give you some practice.

1)  Pay me first.:  What in the hell does that mean?  There are so many things that this "goal" can mean.  The back story gives you a better idea.  When I wrote the goal, I was referring to my tendency to spend money and / or leave it in my checking account.  By doing nothing or just spending it, my money wasn't working for me.  It was working for the banks or for the people who owned the places where I spent it.  Checking accounts get little interest, if any at all, and this is where SO many people keep most of their money.  They have direct deposit from their jobs and all of their bills come out of the account, so it's easier to keep there.  After the money comes out for bills, whatever is left is just hanging out in there, tempting you to buy yet another pair of black pumps that you don't need.  Meanwhile, there's a minimum amount coming out for savings or investments.

Women are especially guilty of this.  We normally put everyone ahead of ourselves: kids, significant others, family, and jobs, not just financially, but in other areas, too.  Realizing this, I decided to break the cycle this year.  By paying myself first, I would take more of my money and put it in places where it is working to make more money on my behalf.  This could mean higher interest bearing accounts, investment vehicles, or business ventures.  To make this a SMART Goal, I could change it to read, "I am putting 20% of my salary in a Roth IRA, (or some other savings or investment tool), annually.

2)  Get out more.:  If I randomly stand out on my porch every Sunday afternoon, I can say that I've gotten out more.  Do you see why it is important to be clear in setting your goals?  *smile*  This was important to me, because I am young, single, fabulous, and fun loving.  I enjoy meeting and interacting with people, (although I'm a little shy), but I can't do any of this by loitering on Facebook or Twalking, (Twitter stalking), folks.  I have to make an effort and get out there.  *teeth chattering*  By changing the goal to, "I am attending 4 Meetups, Facebook events, Tweetups, or other events that I am invited to attend each month," I've turned my wish into a SMART Goal.  (I'll tell you how this is working out in another post.)

Your assignment:  If you've done New Year's Resolutions, go back and dust them off, then ask yourself if they are SMART Goals.  If your answer is "no", then fix them.  If you didn't do resolutions, that's ok.  Sit down and write out some SMART goals for the year.  Don't just do this in your head, WRITE THEM DOWN!!  Having them in your head does NOT count.  Once you finish, put them on your refrigerator or someplace else that you can see them regularly to keep you focused.

In the coming weeks, we'll talk more about goals, including some tips to help you achieve them.  Be sure to let me know what you think about this post and feel free to share one or two of your SMART goals.   :-)


  1. Great Post, especially the SMART Model. i'd heard of/ used it befor but had forgotten about it. Thanks for jogging the memory. You also gave great examples.

  2. Thank you! :-) Would you care to share some of your goals for the year?

  3. LOVE IT, its awesome to use a model, SMART! Its an easy acronym to remember and it works. So many people make wishes at the beginning of the year and thats why they remain wishes. Goals need constant revisting. Awesome Post!

  4. Thank you for your comments! It is definitely important to revisit your goals. Stay on them!