GET REAL

Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Simple 5-step formula for goal setting is powerful, and doable.

Happy New Year everyone! Returning to work and hitting the pavement running after the holidays, vacation time, and a houseful of visiting family I realize that this may be the first time I’ve missed a 2-week blog entry in almost 6 years. I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for that long. It’s been a great experience because it’s kept me writing and it’s forced me to encapsulate and document what I continue to learn in my work and life. So, I’m back in the saddle, and here’s what I’ve got for you during this first week of 2013….

The first of the year, for many of us, tends to be a time to validate our accomplishments of the past year. On the contrary, it may be a time to beat ourselves up for what we’ve not accomplished! Either way, it’s sure to offer us a fresh start. In the event you’re entertaining a new or revisited goal, here is a proven and simple five-step formula for Goal Setting:

1. Establish your desire. Begin dumping on paper or in a document, your recurring thoughts about what you want to be, do, or have. Recycled thoughts tend to stress us out and can paralyze us. Dumping your thoughts out serves as brainstorming and generates movement—one idea generating another. For example, you might say, “I can’t keep up the stress of this job, I need to make a change, but I can’t afford to quit!” Then perhaps you can begin exploring by dumping (documenting) your current income and the amount of your monthly expenses. You can play with the idea, however crazy it may seem, to lower your bills by moving into more affordable housing, or giving up some specific luxuries. You might begin noting what you’ve thought of as ideal jobs without considering what they pay. Remember, this is all happening on paper only, like a fantasy. You’re not risking a thing. You’re simply exploring ideas to get a sense of your feelings about their feasibility, so that you can get a sense of your true desires! I strongly recommend a special notebook, document, or folder specifically created for all of your notes relating to your goal.

2. Explore (write about) each goal, dream or strategy fully. For each goal, or sub-goal, ask yourself these helpful questions and “dump” your answers into your designated goals notebook or document. If you’re not a writer, that’s OK. Just jot down phrases or words that best represent your thoughts. Once you accumulate and revisit your notes, you’ll be amazed at the data they’ll provide you about yourself and your quest towards your goal(s).
– How will accomplishing this goal benefit me?
– What can get in the way, or what am I afraid of?
– Who, or what organizations, do I need to contact or associate with?
– What specific skills and knowledge will I need to acquire, if any, to reach this goal?

3. Set specific target dates. Keep in mind that you can set a target date for a major goal, or you can set a target date to simply come to a decision about whether a goal is worth pursuing. Also, remember that commitment comes in all shapes and sizes. If you think sharing your goal and target date with a loved one will increase your commitment, do it! If you think it will have more power to keep it to yourself, do that. Either way, target dates will increase commitment.

4. Identify the necessary (small and doable) steps you’ll take to explore in more detail or to make your goal a reality. Use your answers to the questions in step 2, to create action plans. What call might you make to learn more about an organization, or what person might you contact to learn more about a specific area of interest? Or what small step might you take to help you overcome an obstacle you’re anticipating? Taking steps to explore or reach a goal should not be painful. If you plan a step and it seems too big, or you find yourself stalling, it may be too big for you. Break it down even smaller. If you can’t bring yourself to make a call today, can you get on line and research their contact information before the end of the day today? For every step you plan, it’s important to apply a specific target date.

5. Affirm and visualize. Listen to what you’re saying to yourself and others about your goal. Our thoughts and comments have a huge impact on our ability to succeed. Take a few minutes every day and offset (natural) negative thinking by reciting positive messages – in the first person (I), present tense (I am). One of my favorite affirmations is: “I am attaining my goals easily and effortlessly.” Then picture yourself in the situation you want to be in. Visualize your perfect situation already accomplished and do it daily.

The best way to assure yourself that this formula works is to reflect on something you already set out to do and accomplished. Surely, you established your desire to do it, had a place where you kept your detailed notes, set a target date, and took small, doable interim steps to get there. You believed it, found yourself visualizing your goal regularly, and accomplished it.

If you find yourself revisiting a goal, yet struggling with action, I hope you’ll try this formula and share your successes with us. Wishing you every success with setting and attaining your goals in 2013!

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