Dreams without goals, are just dreams and they ultimately fuel disappointment.
- Denzel Washington
Do you ever feel like no matter how busy you are during a day you can never seem to accomplish anything or make headway toward what you want to accomplish? Maybe you have a hard time putting the pieces of your journey in the most optimal order so you can go from where you are to where you want to be.
If you ever find yourself in one of these situations you may need to take a step back and review your goals. For years I went through life aimlessly with a gross lack of goals and purpose; just going through the motions, until I found something to be passionate about. Finding my passion was enough to get me motivated, but I still felt like I was spinning my wheels and unable to focus on my priorities. That is until I learned about goal setting and was able to sit down and complete a goal setting exercise.
The goal setting exercise I am going to talk about is the SMART goal process where SMART stands for
S - Specific M - Measurable A - Achievable R - Relevant T - Time-bound
Each part of the SMART goal criteria has a specific purpose to help develop the clearest goal and assist in formulating a path to get you to where you want to go with the fewest steps possible.
This is the main thesis of your goal, what you want to accomplish. The purpose of this point is not to create a laundry list of how you are going to meet your goal, but you should spend time on the ‘w’ questions:
Who – who you need to involve to help accomplish the goal
What – think about exactly what you want to accomplish, do not be afraid to get incredibly detailed
When – this is addressed in more detail as you tackle the time-bound bullet point, but it is good to set a time frame for accomplishing your goal
Why – what is the reason for this goal
Which – you need to determine if there are any related obstacles or missing requirements. This question will help when you are reviewing if the goal is realistic or not
Where – this question is not always applicable but if there is a relevant location, note it here
Specificity is perhaps the most important question you will tackle during the SMART goal process. Without being specific enough you risk being vague and lacking purpose.
What metrics are you going to use to determine if you have met your goal or if you are even moving toward your goal? Measuring your success during the process is a great way to be sure you stay on track. Many times, your goal is going to take months or even years to complete and having guideposts or milestones along the way to help you measure your progress is of great importance during these long-term goals. Some questions to ask:
How do you know when you have accomplished your goal?
SMART goals need to be realistic and attainable to be successful. Goals should stretch your abilities, but they should still be possible. When reviewing if the goal is achievable you can think about questions like
How to accomplish your goal
If you have the tools and skills to meet the goal
What actions you need to take if you are missing any of the tools or skills
This step helps ensure that the goal matters to you and that it fits in with your other, broader, relevant goals.
Anyone can set goals but without realistic timing, the chances for success are minimal. All goals need a specific target date and deadline for completion. This part helps ensure that your normal day to day tasks are not taking priority away from your long-term goals.
SMART goal setting is a great way to ensure that you have a realistic set of goals that are relevant to your purpose and that you can accomplish within your deadline. Another way to help keep you on task with your goals is to utilize the prioritization technique coined in the book, The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan.
The ONE Thing
This book is a game changer if you have ever struggled with prioritization. Setting goals is one part of success, the other is prioritizing your tasks and setting yourself up to accomplish these goals. The ONE Thing asks a simple question, “What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
When it comes to priorities, many people believe that they can effectively multitask, but it is impossible for human beings to multitask. When you think you are multitasking, you are really task switching at a high rate, but every time your mind switches tasks it must first recalibrate to the new task. This can cost a couple seconds each time it happens and is one of the reasons texting and driving is so dangerous. It is also one of the reasons we lose productivity, each time you switch tasks you cost yourself valuable productive moments and a loss of focus.
By asking yourself, “What’s the ONE thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” you can begin to focus your mind on the most important task that can help you accomplish your goal. One of the magical results of the ONE Thing is it can help you analyze your macro goal and help you develop a plan to tackle the micro tasks which will help you get from your current situation to your long-term goal.
Most people fail in life not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit it.
Another thing we learn from The ONE Thing is that many people do not stretch themselves enough with their goals. Too many people are conservative with their goals when they could have done much more. If you have a certain salary as a goal, what will happen if you multiply that goal by 10X? How will it change your goals and what will you need to do differently? By focusing on the small tasks on the way to your larger goal, it may be possible to design a path not just for your realistic goal but for a previously unrealistic, stretch goal.
It would be remis of me to not mention the enemy of SMART goals, VAPID goals. One of the best ways to not accomplish your goals and to find misery is to utilize this goal setting method. In the past, when I would not sit down and complete a goal setting exercise I found myself lost and without purpose, I felt I knew what I needed to do but my future is unclear and so was my path. The entire journey was shrouded in a fog of uncertainty, so I did nothing and I accomplished less.
So, what are VAPID goals?
V – Vague – The goal and steps you need to take are not specific or clear.
A – Amorphous – There is no finish line or any way to measure achievement.
P – Pie in the Sky – The goal is way too ambitious and unrealistic.
I – Irrelevant – The goal has nothing to do with what you like or care about.
D – Delayed – There is no timeframe, it can happen at any time
Goal setting is one of the most important things high performers use to focus their efforts and stay on track. In reality, any number of methodologies for goal setting will work and I encourage you to do research them until you find one that works for your personality and you can follow through with. You may find what you previously thought was impossible has a clear path with focused steps.
If you have any questions or if there are any topics you would like to see covered please reach out to me at Mack@InfiniteFocusCapital.com