In both the personal and professional realms, clearly defined goals form a roadmap for success. Goal setting is particularly important for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, as they need to be self-driven in creating and following a plan that will help them achieve their dreams. However, successful goal setting requires careful consideration and adherence to certain guidelines; otherwise, goals may remain unfulfilled and ultimately become a source of frustration rather than inspiration.
As you think about what you would like to accomplish in your personal and professional lives, consider these four tips for setting effective goals that will guide you along the path to success:
- Take the time to reflect on your current circumstances and develop a clear understanding of what success looks like to you—and why it is important that you achieve it. For example, if you aspire to leave the corporate world and become a business owner, it is crucial that you understand your reasons for wanting to do so. Maybe you are seeking greater flexibility and work-life balance, or perhaps you feel that your work is meaningless and would like to experience the satisfaction of personally contributing to the growth of a business. Regardless of your situation, you must understand what you do and do not like about where you are currently in order to determine where you want to go. Once you define your vision of success, you can begin establishing goals that will help you get there.
- Follow the SMART formula. This popular acronym enumerates the qualities that effective goals should have. “SMART” stands for:
- Specific. Goals should specifically define what you want to achieve. For example, instead of saying that you would like to “improve sales,” strive to “acquire ten new customers per month this year.” Goals that are ambiguously written may result in frustration—or allow you to grant yourself leeway and accept subpar results.
- Measurable. Set clear milestones so you know when you are making progress, and there is no question when the goal has finally been fulfilled.
- Attainable. While it is important to challenge yourself and “dream big,” you must reasonably be capable of achieving your goals. Striving to accomplish goals that were not realistic in the first place could result in diminished confidence and a sense of disillusionment.
- Relevant. Your goals should be aligned with your values and the vision you have for your personal and professional lives.
- Time-sensitive. Goals should have deadlines, or at least approximate time frames in which they must be accomplished. Break down long-term goals into smaller tasks that you complete on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Without time limits, a goal could stretch on for so long that it becomes no longer relevant.
- 3. Create an action plan. As the writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” List out the steps involved in reaching your goals, what each step will require, and the deadline by which you want to achieve each step and the overall goal. Accomplishing the individual steps will enable you to measure your progress and inspire you to keep pursuing your goal—even when it seems insurmountable. Consider writing down your action plan and referring to it regularly to ensure that you are staying on target.
- 4. Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable for your goals. Even the most self-motivated people tend to perform better when someone else is paying attention to their progress. As you navigate the obstacles and triumphs of pursuing your dreams, a trusted accountability partner can provide inspiration and motivation.
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(Sources: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_90.htm, http://www.success.com/article/rohn-4-tips-for-setting-powerful-goals).