Setting Goals for Success - Specific, Measurable, & on a Timeline
The start of a New Year-- the time most people use to "start fresh", and set their New Year's Resolutions, which is a fancy name for some goals they'd like to accomplish during the year. The running joke is that those goals usually last a week, a month at most, and then fade away into the background, the source of shame, never to be spoken of again. We've all been guilty of this in the past.
As the prior year comes to a close, I tend to spend some time in reflection, thinking a lot about what I had accomplished, what I didn't, and what I'd like to accomplish in the coming 12 months. I set some goals and have found a lot of success in doing so.
That being said, it seems most people fall into the trap of setting hard to measure, vague goals, like "eat healthier". Posts and tweets like that are the reason I thought it would be valuable to post this, so here we go-- TWO VERY IMPORTANT THINGS you MUST DO to help yourself achieve your goals.
Make your goals SPECIFIC AND MEASURABLE
This is probably the one people get wrong the most-- they set "soft goals" as I call them, which are goals that are vague and pretty much impossible to track/measure. There's a saying in the business world that "You can't manage what you can't measure", and I think it applies just the same to setting and accomplishing goals.
Saying things like "I want to get fit" or "I want to eat healthier" are examples of soft goals. Don't fall into this trap-- think harder, and spend a bit more time on what exactly you'd like to accomplish, and set THAT as the goal. It has to include some kind of metric that can be measured or tracked, or your chances of accomplishing the goal will decease, and often be subjective. "Oh, yeah well I think I ate healthier this year, so I accomplished that goal", meanwhile you've gained 10 lbs and your body fat is up 8%. Don't let this be you.
You'll find examples of how to set those goals better at the bottom of this post.
Set a timeline for you to hit your goals within
There's a law, known as "Parkinson's Law" (not the disease, don't confuse them please) that basically states the work required to accomplish something will expand and get more complicated to fit the time allotted for its completion. Because of this, you should A, always set a time and a date to complete your goals, and B, make that time frame enough to be borderline uncomfortable for you. (just don't overdue it and expect to lose 30lbs or make 25K more within 2 weeks)..
You don't want to not set ANY time frame, because you'll have nothing to hold yourself to. Likewise, you don't want to set all of your goals to be accomplished by December 31st, because you'll drag your feet and all of your goals will take much longer that way.
Set a date that's a few months out, on the high end, but be sure to keep it realistic AND aggressive. Once you pencil that in, at the half-way point you can then review your progress and if needed, speed things up.
Examples of WELL SET GOALS
Here are a few examples of goals I've seen, and how I would help someone "re-set" them to be easier to measure.
I want to eat healthier SHOULD BE "I want to eat healthy meals at least 4 days a week"
I want to get better at CSGO SHOULD BE "I want to improve by two ranks before the end of April"
I want to lose weight and be more fit SHOULD BE "I want to lose 10 lbs, reduce my body fat by 5%, and run a 5K in less than 25 minutes before June"
I hope you all accomplish your goals, and have a healthy, happy, safe and prosperous 2015.