Goal setting is a powerful way for thinking about your ideal future and for motivating yourself to turn your vision into reality. It is also a vital element in the process of problem solving and decision making.
An effective goal setting-tool is the SMART criteria. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
Specific – Goals should be straightforward and clearly defined in order to focus your efforts on what you want to happen. A specific goal has a greater chance of being realized than a general one. The following six “W” questions help you to specify your goal: Who: Who is involved? What: What do I want to accomplish? Where: Identify a location. When: Establish a time frame. Which or How: Identify requirements and constraints. Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
Measurable – Decide how you will know if you are making progress toward a goal. Measuring your progress means to quantify your success: you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the joy of achievement that motivates you in reaching your goal. To enhance your feeling of success, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
Attainable – Think big, but it is also important that you don’t set a goal that is too big. To determine whether your goal is attainable, ask yourself honestly if you have all the resources available, such as time, budget, and support, to make it happen. Useful questions are: Do I have or will I be able to obtain all the support, equipment, knowledge and resources needed to put my goal into action? Does this goal fall in line with other priorities in life? If not, how can I revise my goal to make it more achievable?
Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work, thus, a substantial progress. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide how high your goal should be. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement! A high goal is often easier to reach than a low one, because a low goal exerts low motivational force, sending the message that you aren’t very capable. However, if it’s too difficult you set the stage for failure.
Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by May 1st. “Someday” is not a helpful answer, since without time frame the sense of urgency is lacking. The commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen, because you feel you can start at any time.
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