The greatest danger for most of us is not that we aim too high and miss it but that we aim too low and achieve it. ~ Michelangelo
Believe it or not, 2012 will soon be history. Once again, we will set our sights on a new year, new beginnings and a new set of goals. We do this every year and quite often fall short of our goals, to the point that many people stop the process altogether, but I contend, as Michelangelo suggests, that setting lofty goals and missing them is much better than setting low goals and achieving them or even not setting them at all to avoid disappointment. Thank about this, as a student, would you rather set a goal of achieving an A and only getting an A-, or setting a goal of achieving a C and getting a C+? Certainly setting a lofty goal and possibly falling short is the better way to go.
By utilizing the right goal setting tools, we greatly enhance our chance of success. For many years a standard goal setting tool has been the use of the SMART goal acronym. That is, goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. For example, rather than setting a goal of “I will save more money this year”, your goal should read something like, “This year, I will double up my credit card payment to Visa and pay it off in March. Then I will apply that amount to my Master Card each month and pay that credit card off in June, at which time I will be able to put that full balance of savings into a money market account. By September I will have enough money to open an IRA account and will be able to pay in $2,400 by the end of the year which will be deductible on my taxes.
You have now set a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely, and you will have a much greater chance of success than simply saying, “I will save more money this year”. Now you have a real plan of action and something that you can stick with.
This year I had the pleasure of reading a book by Beverly Flaxington called MAKE YOUR SHIFT, where she introduced a new goal setting acronym, SHIFT. The SHIFT model says you should Specify the desired outcome, Highlight and categorize any obstacles that stand in your way, Identify the human factor, Find alternatives and Take disciplined action. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Specify your desired outcome. Paint a clear and understandable picture of your desired outcome and what success will look like when you arrive. Keep the outcome realistic and measurable so that you will know when you get there or that you are making progress.
Highlight and categorize obstacles. What has prevented you from already achieving the new goals you are setting for yourself? Brainstorm the things that have held you back in the past and take immediate action toward your desired outcome. Make a list of the things you can control as well as the things you cannot, but may be able to influence.
Identify human factors. Think about the worries, concerns and fears you may have. What are the things that are holding you back? Conversely, what strengths do you have that will benefit you? What effect will your goals have on others and will they work for or against you? How can you gain support from possible detractors?
Find alternatives. After looking closely at the first three steps, determine which options will work best for you. Are they different ways to go about achieving your desired outcome? If so, which way will be most efficient and affective? What is the best alternative?
Take disciplined action. Break it down into very discreet steps that show you clearly where you need to go, and what steps to take to get there. What are the specific steps that will help you from here to there in a step by step fashion.
Nothing is going to guarantee your success, but by taking action and putting clear plans into place, you greatly increase your chances of meeting the goals you set. One thing is for certain, if you don’t know where you’re going – you’ll end up lost and another year will go by without achieving the success you are capable of achieving. You can make 2013 your best year ever, or it can be yet another long list of years where you didn’t accomplish the things you wanted. The choice is yours. Take action today to begin a new journey.
- Where am I going? Setting goals (ready2bloom.com)
- A New Year Allows You to Invest S.M.A.R.T., Set Your Trading Goals for 2011 (optionsanimal.com)
- Wishbomb.com’s 2012 Goal-Setting Report Released (prweb.com)
- Goals. Simple. Powerful. Effective. Set them. Achieve. (threev.com.au)