The best way to accomplish anything significant is to set goals. Look, I know all those jokes about New Year’s resolutions and how they last about as long as a snowball in Tucson in August, but then again, goals are critical to getting anything done in life.
I am one of those people who sets goals, not just annually, but also weekly, daily, and even hourly. I find the practice useful, though it can be outright daunting at times. Goals serve to help me with my workload as well as my own company’s strategy. They help give direction to my daily life. But I have to warn you that they can also serve up a huge guilt trip when you realize none of them are getting done as quickly as you want to get them done!
I recently read a new book by Michael Hyatt called Your Best Year Ever. In the book he has a chapter on goal setting that I found extremely valuable. In this chapter he describes a method for setting smarter goals which he calls the SMARTER System. I was so impressed with this system that I decided to share it. The acronyms are his, the summaries are mine.
Now from the book Your Best Year Ever here is Mr. Hyatt’s system for successful goal setting.
S is for Specific: You need to be very specific in laying out your goals. Write down exactly what your goals are, and make those goals narrow enough to be accomplishable. If your goals are too general, they will not be attainable. General goals never get done. Saying you are going to lose weight this year is a meaningless goal, unless you have a plan for how you are going to do that. Saying you are going to run four times a week and eat less than two thousand calories a day are much more effective goals.
M is from Measurable: You need to be able to measure your goals. You can’t tell if you are winning if you don’t have a scoreboard, and the same applies to setting goals. You can’t just set a goal and then get it done, you have to break it down into bite -sized measurable pieces. You have to set targets with milestones along the way.
A is for Actions: Use action words instead of generic terms. For example, saying you are going to go to the gym more is not as effective as saying you will go to the gym four times a week. List the exact actions that it will take to achieve your goals.
R is for Risky: By risky we mean that they have to take you out of your comfort zone. You have to put something on the line. You have to risk something. I knew a salesperson who wanted to earn more money. He was on a plan where he got a very substantial base salary but a very small commission. So, he went to his manager and offered to take a cut, a severe cut in pay for a larger commission rate. Now talk about risk! Talk about putting your skin in the game! But he did it, that is how confident he was in his ability to earn more money. And yes, the rest of the story was that he did it. By the end of his first year with the new program he had earned twice as much money as he ever had before!
T is for Time-Keyed: Set a deadline. Actions are worthless unless you add the time within which you are going to do that action and meet that goal. Saying you are going to acquire new customers this year is meaningless, unless you say something like, you are going to add three new customers a quarter for a total of twelve new customers by the end of the year. Setting a definite timeline finalizes the goal. It makes your goal real, as well as achievable. It will also make it reasonable as you will really think about whether you can do it or not. For example, if you normally pick up one new customer a quarter, saying you now want to increase that to two new customers a quarter may be reasonable, as opposed to ten new customers per quarter which is not.
E is for Exciting: Your goals have to be exciting; they have to inspire you to succeed. One of the most effective attributes of goal setting is to visualize what things will be like once you make that goal. That endgame vision should be exciting enough to keep you motivated to make your goal. Making your goal has to be so exciting that you will be constantly inspired to achieve it.
R is for Relevant: You have to make sure that your goals are relevant to your life and your life’s values. Your goals have to make sense when it comes to what you are doing right now. They have to pertain to the intellectual, spiritual, physical, emotional, marital, vocational, parental, avocational, and financial aspects of your life. In short, your goals should be designed to make your life better.
And yes, there is one more, which is to write your goals down. Not only write them down initially, but develop a score sheet that you check regularly, say everyday, to make sure you are on track to making those goals.
Goals seem to be very easy to make but all the more difficult to achieve. By following Mr. Hyatt’s SMARTER system diligently, you will be able to achieve your goals and have the kind of life you strive for. It’s only common sense.