2017: Setting Goals that Leap You Into Action
Goals are born from vision. Denis Waitley, author of The New Dynamics of Goal Setting (1991), believes so strongly that people cannot succeed without goals that he makes the bold statement, "Every successful person defines their goals in writing." Research shows that less than 10% of the population actually put their goals in writing, but of those who do, 85% achieve them.
Developing goals is predominantly a matter of structure and organization. A poster on the wall of a gym states, "A goal is a dream with a deadline." You might alternately say "A goal without a timeline is just a dream."
It may be helpful to use "the three V's" in planning your goals:
V alues - determine your core values, then determine your goals
V ision - give your goals a vision
V oice - give your goals a voice
Richard Suinn, Ph.D., is a sports psychologist and was the first to serve on a U.S. Olympic sports medicine team. He states:
"Instead of just getting athletes 'psyched up,' we prefer to help them become more definite about why they're doing what they're doing now, even though their eventual goal - say winning a gold medal - may be a few years down the road. Goal setting helps to bring the future a little closer by breaking it down into steps to take this week, next week, and next month. That way, athletes can chart their progress, keeping in mind where they're eventually going to end up. It enables those who are feeling that they want to give up to stay with the program (Psychology Today, Nov. 1999)."
In setting goals, it is helpful to construct meaning around the goal. Oprah Winfrey says, "As much as my work in television has been a big dream, the truth is that I never set out to create this huge life….the path to success was never about attaining incredible wealth or celebrity. It was about the process of continually seeking to be better, to challenge myself to pursue excellence on every level (O Magazine, May, 2002)." So, ask yourself, "What is my path to success about? How will the attainment of this goal change my life? How will it make my life better?"
Goals need to have three elements. They need a noun, a verb, and a deadline. The simplest goal statement I can think of is "Do it now."
----When you want something you've never had, you've got to do something you've never done.
10 Ways to Make Action = Results
1) Start with the end in mind.
2) Develop a clear and easy picture of what you want to accomplish. President Kennedy's goal "to send a man to the moon and bring him safely back home within this decade," was simple, but definite.
3) Write it down - COMMIT!
4) Break the job into measurable steps with completion dates.
5) Enlist the support of others - go public with your goals.
6) Get a coach. Even friends and/or family can serve as advisors to report progress to.
7) Enlist a team to help each other reach goals. An example of this would be a book writing group. You may each be working on a different book, but the others can assist you on format, etc… and vice versa.
8) Keep allies on your side and enemies at bay.
9) Celebrate progress - reward yourself.
10) Thank those who have helped you along the way.
----- He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. -----Friedrich Nietzsche
Sub-goals strengthen motivation because they make an activity manageable and accessible. When a larger goal is divided into sub-goals, it becomes a series of incremental tasks rather than one overwhelming project. This idea has been expressed in many slogans that you can repeat to yourself to increase and sustain the motivation to stick with your goals:
Sometimes, it is more profitable to block out the daunting, long-range picture of
your goals in order to focus more completely on the immediate step that needs to be undertaken.
----Constantly ask yourself, "How is this action moving me toward my goals?"
Your Own Reward
To remain on your path toward goal achievement, it is important to measure your progress. When you complete sub-goals and tasks, you can cross them off your plan. When they are completed according to your time line, you may want to draw a happy face next to them (or some other symbol that makes you smile), as encouragement. It is important for your motivation to measure the amount of work accomplished and mark its place on the plan, as this demonstrates that there is progress being made. Task completion creates feelings of positive self-esteem. Goal achievement leads to feelings of self-confidence. Success breeds success. When you feel that you have mastered a project, you will be more motivated to start the next one.
Research has shown that subjects utilizing a "reward" system have better results. Rewards can be internal, such as feeling good about yourself, or they can be external, such as spending the day doing something fun. Something as small as "positive self statements" as self-reward may even be sufficient. Keeping a journal of steps and sub-goals that have been met is a tangible way to measure progress and feel good about it. Try coming up with your own ideas to incorporate healthy rewards for yourself as you accomplish.
----If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours. ----Henry David Thoreau
Creating an Action Plan
In his book, Simple Steps to Impossible Dreams, Steven Scott (1998) refers to the process of achieving your "dream" as the "Dream Conversion Process." He divides it into the following steps:
1) Define your dream in writing;
2) Convert your dream into specific goals;
3) Convert each goal into specific steps;
4) Convert each step into specific tasks;
5) Assign a projected time or date to complete each task.
We all have dreams and desires for our future. I would like you to take a moment to work through your own "Dream Conversion Process".
1) First, choose a dream that seems on the surface to be impossible to reach.
2) Next, determine what specific goals that dream is comprised of.
3) Write down from one to three goal statements that will make your dream a reality (make sure they include a noun, verb, and deadline).
4) Now, break those individual goals down into even smaller steps.
5) Once you have the steps in place, write down what it will take to reach that
6) And finally, assign a projected time of completion for each of these tasks.