Step 2: Prioritize Your Goals
Step 3: Writing Goals Down
Step 4: Positive Motivation
Step 5: Negative Motivation
Step 6: Identifying and Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
Step 7: Changing Habits and Behaviors
How to Set Goals: Brainstorm and write down all your goals!
When it comes down to how to set goals, you don’t need to worry about various categories. When you are in the “idea” phase and brainstorming out all the possibilities for what you might want to pursue in your future, you need not get caught up in categories or the “types” of different goals. Simply write down as many things as possible for what you’d like to do, be or have.
Remember, the sky is the limit! Also, let me give you a very cool tip for this first step on how to set goals. Spend as much time as needed, or as much time as possible on this exercise until you feel as though you have really captured many of the goals that are important to you. Don’t feel as though you have or need any goals? Hmm…Think again, and Read all about what goal setting really means!
Why wouldn’t you want to take your time on this brainstorming exercise? Hey, if you are feeling as though you want to skip this step, let me use my power of comparisons talk on you again… First of all, how many hours a week do you spend watching television? I’m guessing you spend at least 1-2 hours on average. So, why couldn’t you also invest a minimum of an hour on this particular exercise? Do you go to the movie theatre each week, every other week, or even once a month? I guarantee you that, the few hours you invest in this exercise will return much more than the few hours you’ve spent watching shows and movies. And, let me also say, that you’ll have just as much if not more fun!
Here are some awesome motivational goal setting questions that will help you identify all the things that you want to do, become or achieve (you don’t have to answer these, but they will stimulate a lot more ideas for you)! Go nuts, and make a nice big long list! As you learn how to set goals be sure to keep the process fun! After you complete this brainstorming process, you will move on to step 2, which is prioritizing your goals.
Goal Setting Questions to Help You Brainstorm!
1. What things do I want to do with my life?
2. What kind of person do I want to become?
3. What do I want to become known for?
4. What is my life purpose or mission?
5. What material possessions would I like to have?
6. What do I want to move toward?
7. What would I like to have in life?
8. How do I want to focus my time and energy?
9. What does my ideal lifestyle look like?
10. What do I want to experience?
11. What sorts of activities am I so passionate about that I would gladly get up at 5:30am to start them?
12. What do I find myself daydreaming and fantasizing about all the time?
13. If a genie could grant me one wish, what would I wish for?
Congratulations for finishing step 1 on how to set goals! If you now have a nice, long list of your goals, you are further ahead than most people! Most people figure – “what’s the point” and don’t even bother. You are now ready to move on to step 2, which is prioritizing your goals.
Using my motivational questions, you’ll have no problem buckling down and deciding what it is that you want to focus on! Are you still wondering how to set goals? You are well on your way!
Step 2: Prioritize Your Goals
Step 3: Writing Goals Down
Step 4: Positive Motivation
Step 5: Negative Motivation
Step 6: Identifying and Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
Step 7: Changing Habits and Behaviors
Throughout my journey of personal development, I’ve realized that great achievements are comprised of a series of small steps, efforts and actions that have evolved over time into what are often perceived as big, notable achievements.
As a woman who is very passionate and ‘obsessed’ with her personal development, I would describe myself as overly ambitious, and often times frustrated by anything that resembles status-quo living. Just like you, I’ve had the tendency to want ‘more’, or ‘different’ in my life now, as opposed to later.
Interestingly, we live in a culture in which we are continually bombarded by success stories in the media that misrepresent how people actually achieve their goals.
We typically hear about the “rags to riches” stories of a people making millions of dollars in the marketplace, turning a home-based business into a multi-million dollar company, suddenly becoming a famous actress, and so forth.
The media always focuses on the end-result of the journey, – the destination. No one ever hears about the complex journey that often times comes before.
This is not to say that huge achievements cannot happen within a short period of time, because they can, and they do. For most people however, achievement is something that evolves and grows with time.
The journey is not about a race, it’s about setting and sticking to your own pace. My personal motto has always been, “one step a day is the only way!”
As you approach your goals remember to exercise patience. If you’re obsessed and passionate about your personal development, you’re probably quite busy working toward your goals, and, probably feeling quite inpatient.
One of the side effects to being a savvy, ambitious woman who is overly passionate about her achievement, is something called cognitive dissonance. While creating cognitive dissonance is necessary to make your goals a reality, it can also make your life a living hell if you aren’t careful.
Once you create a clear, detailed picture of your dreams, things can get pretty hectic. You constantly think, talk and act on your goals consistently. As a result, even though you haven’t achieved your goal, in some small way it feels like it has already happened, and that it is already a reality.
The only problem, is that it hasn’t happened yet, and there is a gap between your current reality and your expectations. This is called cognitive dissonance. While experiencing this gap ensures you stay motivated and in action, if you’re not careful you can become quite impatient and frustrated with yourself.
In my own experience, I’ve described this feeling as exploiting my intellectual and spiritual resources, and feeling empty inside. There have been times where I’ve felt quite productive and proud of my efforts, yet it came at the expense of living unconsciously.
Remember the story of the tortoise and hare? Slow and steady will win the ‘race’. It’s about being consistent, and developing the habits that will make your dreams a reality! As much as your passion might be your strength, it can also be your Achilles heal. There is wisdom in knowing when it is time to make leaps and strides versus when it is time to stick to your ‘baby steps’.
Think about some of your character qualities that you are proud of. You probably didn’t become a different person overnight, but rather you honed and developed your character over time. Think about some of the most meaningful things you’ve accomplished in your lifetime. How did they unfold? Was it suddenly, within a few days, months or even years?
Regardless of whether you are at a point in your life where you are taking baby steps, leaps or great strides, and regardless of how quickly you take those steps, – remember this:
Your journey to achieving your dreams is a process as opposed to a single event that happens ‘overnight’.
No doubt that as a busy, savvy woman, there will be times when you will need to take comfort in knowing that you are moving forward, period. Sometimes, baby steps are good enough.
Each step you take toward your dreams, is a step forward. Move toward your dreams with confidence, power and pride. Step forward consciously, and enjoy the journey!
In working with many women over the years, I’ve learned that women’s ways of knowing, and their approach to achieving their life dreams, differs from what is taught in the SMART acronym. When setting goals, we are taught that they are supposed to be very Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented with a detailed plan, Realistic and Time-bound (must have a deadline).
The problem with the Smart formula is that its assumptions and philosophies are heavily rooted in pure ‘scientific’, left-brain thinking, pure logic, and reason. It’s the whole “I’ll believe it when I see it” perspective, as opposed to “I’ll see it when I believe it.” The problem with these instructions is that they alone, are limiting in nature.
Smart goal setting has many valuable benefits that should not be ignored, and I wouldn’t advocate that you through the baby out with the bath water. However, Smart goal setting seems to only speak to only one of two important sides of the “success” equation.
I believe that the Smart formula has turned many women off from the idea of “goal-setting”. It has become such a mechanistic, boring chore to set goals using only the Smart formula. When I think about the Smart formula on its own, there are certain negative connotations and overlooked concerns that immediately come to mind.
Let’s start with the first guideline of setting a Specific goal. Being specific with your goals is very important, however “specific” on it’s own, leaves out an important former step, which is the need for exploration, brainstorming, curiosity, and something else called, “thinking big”! This is how the process of goal setting should begin, but this part is rarely ever suggested, it is only assumed.
The first time you actually get serious and start thinking about what you want in your life, you will come up with many different ideas, and this is exactly what you want. The term “Specific” on its own, is limiting in nature. How does one have absolute clarity and detail on a goal that is in its infancy?
The truth is, the clarity of your goals evolve and develop over time. So, don’t worry that the goals and the visions behind them in the different areas of your life are a bit fuzzy. This is completely normal when you are first setting a goal.
What about being told to make sure that your goals are measurable? This only takes into consideration measuring the final outcome. What if the ‘outcome’ is a result that will take many months or years to attain? How will you measure your progress in-between? I believe that we need to measure and reward ourselves for the many steps, actions and efforts along the way.
There also seems to be some goals that just aren’t measurable by quantifiable standards. For instance, what if a person’s goal is to maintain a positive outlook on life? What if a person’s goal is to experience more gratitude on a daily basis? Not everyone wants to ‘translate’ or break those goals into something quantifiable. Not everyone wants to take a ‘logical’ approach to every single goal.
On the flip side, of course there are many short-term, straightforward goals that are easy to measure such as the size of your waist, your bank account, or perhaps the number of unique visitors that arrive to your website each month. These types of goals are easy and fun to measure, because they are quite concrete. Not all goals are so straightforward though.
Third, we are taught to make sure our goals are Action-oriented. Of course this is important, – it’s a no brainer. Interestingly, taking action is not most people’s weakness. It’s relatively easy to take action. Consider the common New Year’s resolution to lose weight. People get into action right away, but they often have problems staying in action.
The downside to promoting the ‘massive action’ side of the equation is that it leaves out an equally important task – which is that of planning. Many people in life know what to do to achieve their goals. The problem they often have is sticking to their goals and following through with their goals.
In order to make this a success, a person needs to work on identifying their limiting beliefs, thoughts and behaviours, and supplementing them. This requires work, and compared to taking action, it is relatively boring for most people as it is ‘behind the scenes’ work, and not something that you can easily measure and track.
One of the worst things about the Smart formula is the notion that our goals should be Realistic. When you are first setting your goals, that last thing I’d recommend is to be realistic. This assumption again is rooted in thinking out of practicality and logic. What about thinking big?
The first step is to decide on what you want in the different areas of your life, and only later does a person figure out the ‘how’. The ‘how’ is your plan, and that is the component that will be rooted practicality. Don’t ever let your current lack of awareness or knowledge ever prevent you from attempting to achieve a dream of your choice.
I once read that being realistic with setting your goals is actually being pessimistic. So, think big, and don’t consider realistic plans in the beginning. That part of your plan and strategy is what comes later.
Last but not least, watch out for the Time-bound notion of the DEADline! My goodness, what feelings and thoughts come to mind when you hear the term ‘deadline’? The term seems to imply, – achieve your goal by a certain date or else! Automatically, many people report feeling a lot of negative pressure and stress.
It almost feels like a competition to ‘beat the clock’ so to speak. There is a feeling of needing to rush and possibly sacrifice quality to meet the deadline. There is also the fear of failure. If you don’t achieve your goal by the deadline, you might feel like a failure. This can create feelings of low self-worth and unnecessary frustration and stress.
Deadlines of course are important, and they will have a necessary time and place with many of your goals. When the tasks are quite menial and straightforward, it might make sense to set a date for their completion. The pursuit of many other life goals however, aren’t so straightforward.
The achievement of big goals and dreams are rather complex. Rather than focusing on achieving an end-result or arriving at an exclusive destination, women find that their dreams unfold one step at a time. Our achievements evolve, and it is a journey-oriented process.
The key isn’t so much to focus on the quantity of time it takes to achieve our goals, but rather it’s about the commitment to our goals. It’s about staying focused and knowing the direction we are headed in. We can’t always control timelines due to the expected, yet unexpected variables that always come into play along during our journey.
Deadlines assume that one already has all their resources in place, and that one already knows the exact instructions on how to arrive at the goal. It also assumes a person will have no obstacles or barriers to overcome, which in turn, takes time to circumnavigate.
The problem is that achieving big dreams can’t be done by following a cookie-cutter approach. There is no precise instruction manual with a person’s name carved into it. A person’s unique circumstances and life context always comes into play, and there are never any detours.
Rather than thinking in terms of deadlines, it makes better sense to think about moving or ‘evolving’ targets. The achievement of our goals is a dynamic process that is constantly in flux. Changes in our environment, available resources, and the unique factor of ‘trail and error’ all ensure unexpected zig zags in our path, and hence our overall timeline.
As a person works toward achieving their goals, they are constantly customizing their plans and overall approach. As time goes on, we constantly evaluate our goals, their importance, relevance and meaning to us.
Another assumption inherent in deadlines is that a person will always be consistent in their motivation to plan, take action, and adjust their approach as needed. This is rarely the case because what gets a person from Point A to Point B is always different than what is required to move a person from Point B to Point C. New plans, and new perspectives for staying motivated are always required.
Furthermore, deadlines assume that a person knows how to stay motivated all the time. I’ve learned that learning personal motivation techniques is perhaps even more difficult than taking action, because motivation is what gets a person to take action, and to take consistently.
Achieving our goals is not a single event, but rather it is an evolving process.
Our achievements evolve, one step at a time, one day at a time, one insight at a time, and this occurs over and over again. The journey is forever evolving, which is another point left out in Smart goal setting. For example, a deadline implies that the journey ends once the destination is arrived at. However the journey continues as a person maintains, improves or builds upon that big dream.
Being “smart” about achieving your dreams isn’t only logical – it also requires being present to your own unique life context, and rather than relying exclusively on someone else’s cookie cutter formula, you might want to take a few of the main principle ingredients that you prefer, and then create your own personalized recipe for success.
Others’ expertise and advice combined with your own self-knowledge and inevitable trial and error might prove to be the most fruitful.
It is not just about staying fully committed to a set of predetermined and specific goals with date tags attached to them, – it also requires being open and receptive to the many new opportunities, perspectives, and learning lessons that develop as each day passes. We are in constant flux and change, and therefore our goals reflect this as well.
Goal setting is about living with passion, and staying focused on your multiple, evolving dreams. The Smart approach to setting goals is one of two important sides of the equation. Use your imagination, intuition and personal wisdom to adopt an approach that works for you. In the end, there is no one exact acronym, formula or secret that can get you there. What works for someone else might not work for you.
This will allow you to not only set your own goals, but it will provide you with personalized motivation – and that is what you need for the long haul.
Smart goal setting. Hmm… Is there really such a thing? Of course there is! Don’t you wonder what successful people are doing differently than those people who aren’t successful? Even if top achievers don’t realize it, they are applying the principles of smart goal setting almost all the time.
I know you’ve heard of the smart goal acronym probably many times before, but I don’t want you to read through this section unconsciously, like a laundry list. I believe people often do this because they aren’t satisfied or excited by what they read.
My goal is to explain smart goal setting on a new level – one that will increase your self-awareness and motivation!
Please Don’t take Smart Goal Setting for granted!
Do you want to know one principle or way of thinking that really separates successful people from nonsuccessful people? People of the latter take well known information on how to set goals for granted.
They’ve heard of the steps for goal setting, but they appear to be too simple, and so they avoid using those principles. Don’t let this happen to you! Instead of examining what advice they are “living” and incorporating into their lives – they are instead asking, “Show me something new! I want to learn something different”.
I once heard that success and achievement is the result of mastering the basics. So, as you read on, ask yourself if you are truly applying these principles in your life! Ready to learn about smart goals?
Smart goal setting means getting Specific!
What does this really mean to you? It means that you need to get really clear on what you want. How are you supposed to achieve a dream, if you don’t even have a dream? How are you supposed to be happy if you don’t know what makes you feel good? Ok, this is pretty ‘big picture’ thinking so far. Let me give a few more concrete examples so that you know what I’m really talking about.
Think about any big purchase that you’ve made in your past. Have you bought a house, a car, a big screen television, or a computer? Before you went out to buy this merchandise, what did you need to do first? You had to decide on exactly the type of ‘model’ that you wanted!
Think about the people you know that are really into buying cars. They are totally passionate about them, and they never stop talking, thinking or looking at them online. How much total time do you think they spend thinking about their goal? Some people spend hours every week browsing the models online, finding quotes, and going to dealerships to view the different cars.
“So what?”, you are thinking… Well, the point here is, if a person will spend many, many hours on a goal such as finding the right car to buy, then why shouldn’t a person spend this much time and energy getting clear on what they want in the other areas of their life? Does this make sense?
I can think of many times where I’ve spent hours and hours shopping simply for a particular piece of clothing. For instance, jeans are always hard for me to find! I don’t even want to think about how many hours I’ve spent on finding the right pair.
So, for me, it is motivating to ask myself, “Why wouldn’t I put the same amount of time into writing smart goals that are specific and clear?
In order to motivate yourself on creating specific and smart goals, I suggest you examine how much time you spend engaging in activities that really don’t give you a great return on your investment of time.
For instance, I must spend 4 hours every week blowdrying my hair. Perhaps you spend 6 hours watching reality television shows. Or, maybe you spend 3 hours every week (or god forbid – even more!) cleaning your house, or gossiping on the phone to people you don’t really care much about. If you are a student perhaps you spend 6 hours in a class every week that you don’t even care about.
You get my point! simply examine where and what you spend time on that gives you little in return. Then ask yourself – Why wouldn’t I spent time learning how to set and achieve smart goals?
Smart goal setting also requires that you think big!! For instance, let’s say your goal is to increase your income to $100,000 per year. Now, if that’s what you really want, that is fine, however, ask yourself if that truly is, specifically what you really want!? Does $100,000 per year get you really motivated? Just remember, it will take just as much energy to increase your income to $100,000 as it will to increase your income to $500,000 per year.
Every goal, whether it be a moderate size goal, or large goal requires time, energy and focus. So, if you are going to work on achieving any goal, make it a goal that is big, and that really inspires you!
Here is another example along this line. In building this website, I was told that it takes just as much energy to build a bad website, as it takes to build a successful website, so why not decide to create a goal that, for the same amount of energy will give me a successful product?
Another good analogy that hits on the point I’m trying to make is – I often hear people complain about how their age prevents them from going back to school.
“I’m 50 years old! If I go back to school now, I’m going to be 55 years old by the time I complete my goal!” The alternative way this person needs to think is, “Regardless of what I do, the time is going to arrive when I turn 55 years old, so why not turn 55 years old WITH a degree as opposed to WITHOUT a degree?!”
My final point is – if you are using smart goal setting – you might as well do it right! Be specific, and get really clear on what you want. Your smart goal itself should motivate and inspire you. Forget the stupid advice given on smart goal setting that you need to be realistic.
The objective, goal or target itself does not need to be realistic. I can’t stand when I hear this bad advice! Only your action steps need to be broke down into realistic steps. But, in general, smart goal setting is about thinking big and then having the guts to get specific and to choose an aim that is worth your time and energy!
Smart Goal Setting always motivates you!!!
Part of writing smart goals, is also writing down what will motivate you to achieve those goals! For instance, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, then you must create a list of all the positive benefits you will have if you do actually lose 10 pounds.
Do you do this on a regular basis? Have you ever taken the time to write out your list of reasons? I’m guessing that about only 3% of the population does this! If you can get in the habit of doing this, you will literally see yourself reaching higher and higher levels of success.
When you watch an informercial/commercial, or the shopping channel – what do you notice? They always talk about what’s in it for YOU! They have to highlight all the benefits, all the positive consequences you will experience as a result of purchasing their product!
Viewers may know that they should buy the exercise equipment being advertised, but they won’t do it unless they have a bunch of reasons that motivate them into using actually using that equipment.
The second thing you need to motivate yourself, is to make a list of the negative consequences or all of the pain you will experience if you don’t achieve your goal! Just think, how awful will you feel if you don’t commit to making this smart goal a reality?
Remember, as Anthony Robbins has popularized, people want to move toward pleausre, and move away from pain. So, the more you understand the benefits of achieving your goal, and the negative consequences of not achieving your goal, – the more persistent and motivated you will be at achieving your goal! Does that make sense?
This concept of self-motivation alone can work wonders. But it will only work if you use it! Remember knowledge alone is not power – it is only potential power if you act on that knowledge! If you only take one thing away from smart goal setting – let it be this!
Smart Goal Setting means consistently taking action!
Smart goal setting is all about taking massive action. For some people, the word ‘action’ itself is overwhelming. People feel like it is a major task to take action, or to carry out tasks. Well, there are many different ways to think about taking action. First of all, taking action does not need to feel uncomfortable.
Taking action is all about forming the necessary habits, patterns of behaving and thinking, routines, and systems that will set you up for success. The achievement of every goal boils down to being able to commit to a few key habits on a consistent basis. This is what leads to big accomplishments!
No matter what goals you are struggling with, ask yourself what activities you can systematize or make automatic. What habits are easy for you to start forming in your life, and easy for you to stick to? Remember, forming habits are like building muscles. Over time, you strengthen your habits just as you strengthen your muscles, and working toward your smart goal gets a lot easier!
If you are not getting closer to achieving the major goals in each area of your life, then you should begin to examine what habits you have in place on a regular basis that are moving you toward that goal. The answer is probably, none. Or your actions are too inconsistent. Find a system that you can stick to!
Smart Goal Setting means realistic action steps
Remember how I said that creating a bunch of realistic goals is a bunch of B.S.? Smart goal setting is all about thinking big! However, what makes smart goal setting ‘smart’, is that you have to come up with realistic action steps.
For instance, if your goal is to write a 500 page fiction novel, and you work a fulltime job and have children, then you are going to need a feasible plan of actions to attain your goal, – an action plan that you can follow through with.
You need to ask yourself, “realistically, what am I willing to do each week to achieve my goal?” If you work until 5pm each day, how much time in the evenings can you spend writing? How many days a week can you do this?
Basically, you want to set yourself up for success, by ensuring that your actions can be turned into solid, somewhat predictable routines, habits, systems or patterns of behaving that you can actually stick to, and follow through with.
It is not the big goal that people find overwhelming. Instead, it is their plan of what they have to do in order to achieve that result. Some people’s expectations of themselves are so great that they never get started with an action plan to accomplish their goals. This is so unfortunate.
Remember, with each action you take, you learn and accomplish more and more. You build momentum, and everything becomes easier!
Smart Goal Setting puts a Time or Date on your Goal!
I know, I know, – this sounds like such boring advice so much that I hate to repeat it. What might be the value in putting a deadline on your smart goals?
First of all, it creates a sense of urgency. Secondly, it gives you a big picture for what actions you need to start working on now, and how much time you need to invest in those actions to make your goal a reality.
If you want to be financially free in a year from now, then, it helps to create a picture for what you’ll need to do in the mean time. You might start to realize that you need to start saving 20% of your paycheck now, as opposed to waiting two months from now.
You might realize that you need to take courses on options trading. You might realize you’ll need to run a business part-time in addition to your regular job if you have one. In summary then, it is important to use deadlines, to help you plan what needs to be done during your days, weeks, and months.
Here is some more motivation for you to demonstrate this point. Remember when you were a student? You were always given deadlines weren’t you? And was it effective? Did you usually get the work done that needed to be done? You bet you did! Maybe it wasn’t quite perfect, but it was good enough to move you on to your next grade or level of education.
So, if you participate in other people’s deadlines, and if you were productive to meet other people’s goals, than why would you not give the same gift to yourself? Why would you not hold yourself up to the same high standards?
There! Now you have some of the basics on smart goal setting. Remember, these points are only a few of the main points. This is not meant to be a fully comprehensive list of what you need to do in order to achieve your smart goals.
When it comes to personal goal setting and achievement motivation, do you have a burning desire to understand how to achieve your goals? Are you eager to ensure that you follow through with those goals?
If you are like me, and are the type of person who is passionate about personal achievement and motivation then you’ll want to try my free online goal setting program. Try the most comprehensive and free, online goal-setting and motivation program on the internet! Learn the principles that all successful people need to apply, today!
As early as grade 10, I had encountered a personal goal setting audio program, – Anthony Robbins’ 30 Days to Personal Power.
I can still remember this moment – I felt an explosion of hope and positive energy grow within me. This instance led me to read hundreds of books and listen to many audio programs on personal goal setting and human achievement.
So, as a result, I became sold on the idea that I had the potential to be, do, and have whatever I wanted in life. I felt so grateful – as if I’d encountered a magic genie, a money tree, or the secret answers to personal success (I still feel this way about personal growth seminars, audio programs and books by the way!!).
The only problem however, was that sometimes weeks, months, and even years would go by in my life, without me having committed to the personal goals that I had originally set for myself I was pretty sure that I knew how to set goals.
I had so many questions running through my mind – Was I not organized? Was I not disciplined enough? How did I forget about some of my goals? Why didn’t I stick to my action plan? Grrrr! I’m sure you can relate to some of these experiences as well!
I realized early in life that setting goals and writing down objectives is not enough. In fact, once you learn how to set smart goals, the easiest part is over! The second, and more difficult task, is learning how to follow through with those goals.