You may not know this, but there is a reason to write down
your goals. This action imprints them on your brain. Before writing your
goals, identify what price you are willing to pay to achieve them. These may be
material, emotional, or spiritual. At some point, expose your barriers and
excuses; write them on a separate piece of paper. This list is not meant to be
dwelled on; it is meant merely as acknowledgement – celebrate as you conquer
each barrier or excuse.
If you are finding it difficult to decide on what you want, you could consider
what author Michael Losier advised in his book, Law of Attraction. He
teaches a process of listing what you don't want as a prelude to making
your definitive list of what you do want. Mark Victor Hansen co-author of
Chicken Soup for The Soul said, "Once focused on the positive, you act as
a magnet, to attract those things you hold in your mind."
You may have heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals. The acronym stands for specific,
measurable, attainable/agreed on, relevant, and timely. My colleagues and I
created an alternative formula. Here it is.
Your goal statement must always be succinctly worded in the
present tense and in the positive. Use action and emotional
words. Avoid negative words, future tenses, and comparisons (better, some).
Let me explain why your goal statement must be positive and in the present
tense. The powerhouse of enriched learning is the subconscious mind. It is
highly literal, has no concept of time, and processes in images. If you use
future tenses, such as "I will...," then the subconscious mind will not act on
it since it only operates in the NOW. Since there is no picture for a
negative word (not, never, won't), then it just ignores it. If you
state, "I am not attracted to chocolate cake," the subconscious only
processes, "chocolate cake." A better wording would be, "I love foods that
contribute to my body's health and vitality."
It must be realistic and a slight
stretch. Push yourself just a bit.
It must be specific, yet your
assessment of your success must be flexible. By specific, I mean avoid
comparative words. If you state, "I will be more disciplined in my work
assignments," that is far too vague. To the subconscious, the word more
may be anywhere from .0000001 percent to 100 percent more. So be specific.
Celebrate each of your accomplishments, even if it is not 100 percent of what
you planned. In the book, The One-Minute Manager, the authors counsel
that if you're off course, just do a course correction – don't jump ship! Use
any slip-ups as opportunities to learn.
Your goal must be measurable. If you
can't gauge how well you're doing, how will you know that success is actually
occurring? Ensure that you pick a target date. It must also be paced so that you
can recognize your achievements at specific points along the way. This is the
step where you take your overall goal and break it down into bite-sized modules.
This chunking-down can be by subject, time, place, or resource.
Once your mini-goals are established, create
action plans for as many as you want. This is so important. Without an
action plan, all you have is a wish-list.
Announce or share
your goal with people who will be supportive. This emotional investment puts
your reputation on the line.
The last element is In Your Face. Write
out your goals, cut out magazine pictures, or draw them yourself. Paste and post
the images all over your world, including your bathroom mirror. Keep it in your
face and top-of-mind.
Most people don't set long-term goals, let alone write them down. Some fear
failure and criticism if they are less than 100 percent successful. Others don't
know how to set goals. The vast majority do not appreciate the value of setting
goals. The benefits of written goals are simple. They provide
direction, momentum, and motivation.