Shonda Rhimes recently challenged Dartmouth grads, “Dreams are for losers, be a doer not a dreamer – it’s hard work that makes things happen!”
That sounds a bit harsh, but she got their attention!
A lot of people get stuck not because they don’t dream – but because they don’t DO.
Did you set audacious goals (or any goals) for this year? There’s still time to achieve them.
I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t have have hopes, dreams, aspirations and longings – for themselves, their families, their businesses, their communities, and the world.
But I’m surprised by the fact that few people take the time to write down their goals. Whether our hopes and dreams are big or small, when we write them down, we have increased the probability of doing and achieving them by 42%
Author and businessman extraordinaire Zig Ziglar once said:
“I don’t care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don’t harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you’re never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants.”
Goals are aspirations, or dreams with deadlines.
Have you written yours down? Whether you answered yes or no, there’s still time to set a trajectory that will transform your work and life one day at a time, beginning today.
What do I want to achieve this year? Increase my impact?
Gain more influence? Grow my business? Win a promotion? Get a raise?
Run a half marathon? Lose weight? Learn to sail?
Change jobs? Travel to China? Start a business?
You may be like millions of others who have set goals in the past, only to see them unfulfilled as you got stuck, de-railed, or distracted. This happens to all of us.
One reason could be that you didn’t set goals that energize you – that’s right, how you set a goal influences the outcome.
What would be possible for you if you set and achieved goals that energize you?
What’s at stake if you don’t set goals that energize you? And achieve them?
What will you miss out on?
Your goals form the action plan to get you to the career and life you have imagined.
If you follow these steps, you will propel yourself toward your dreams, the ones you were born to fulfill.
As you get started – think big. Your goals should include, but not be limited to, your career. You are a multi-dimensional person, with passions and interests in many areas. You are not the sum total of your work; and you will thrive in your work and life if your goals reflect that.
T.S. Eliot said,
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
Think about what you’d like to achieve in your career, health, relationships, fun, service, spiritual life. As you pursue goals in one area of your life; the energy and achievement of one will undoubtedly influence or enhance the achievement of others.
Aim for SMARTEST GOALS
You may have heard of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound.) I’ve updated this idea to jumpstart your momentum. I recommend you aim for SMARTEST goals:
Specific Measurable Actionable Realistic Timebound Exciting Stretch Today
Here’s how to set and achieve the SMARTEST 6 – 8 goals for this year:
1. Specific: Clarity motivates! Identify exactly what you want to achieve.
Here’s an example:
Instead of: Get a promotion.
Try: Present pitch with documented rationale on why I’ve earned a promotion and why my company will benefit from it.
2. Measurable: Set a goal that can be quantified.
Instead of: Earn more than last year.
Try: Increase my income by $20,000 or 20%.
3. Actionable: Use action words – because nothing happens without action.
Instead of: Make new friends at work.
Try: Organize at least one Happy Hour a month.
Realistic: Big enough to motivate, without setting yourself up for a demoralizing experience if you don’t achieve your goal.
Instead of: Win an Academy Award.
Try: Join a local drama class or community theatre and perform in one play.
Time Bound: You need a specific deadline for each goal. Deadlines should be set so you are achieving some goals and making progress on others throughout the year. Only a few of your goals should have a target date of December 31.
You’ll be more successful if you aim to achieve at least one goal every quarter, with deadlines like March 31, June 30, and Sept 30.
Instead of: Travel to Europe.
Try: Take a trip to Europe by November 30.
Exciting: Craft goals that inspire you to take action, not procrastinate.
Instead of: Lose 10 pounds (even though you hate the time and effort of dieting).
Try: Dowload a fitness/nutrition app to organize and motivate me to lose 10 lbs.
Stretch goal: This is a push goal that is a catalyst for all others. This one will help make all your other goals come true, perhaps one that you have been avoiding, but if you accomplish it, it will help you achieve your other goals.
Instead of: Get more organized.
Try: Hire a professional organizer who has helped clients like me.
Today: Make your goals a daily focus.
Instead of: Write your goals down once, and review them at the end of the year.
Try: Look at your goals every day beginning first thing in the morning. (This will energize you and keep your momentum going, especially when the inevitable resistance, challenges or interruptions threaten to stall your progress.)
One of the best ways to anticipate and overcome challenges to achieving your goals is to write down why they are important to you.
I’ll give you a few examples from my goals for this year.
My purpose statement reads like this:
“To use my experiences as a serial entrepreneur to help people from all walks of life to unleash and achieve their potential.”
One of my career goals for this year is to complete Release 1.0 of Pocket Mentor mobile app by March 31 (I’m a few weeks behind because everything takes longer than you expect in a start-up! Release is set for April, and this is a real-life example of the benefit of checking in regularly on our goals. And, to avoid panic when there are delays or details we need to fine tune; when the delays come, do the next best thing and you’ll get back on track quicker than if you panic!)
My why is: Because the app reflects my true purpose, to help people achieve the next levels of their potential, while also drawing on my experience starting and growing tech companies, and it draws from 4 of my top 5 Strengths: Input, Strategic, Activator, Futuristic.
Here’s another goal:
Family: Have a date night with my husband at least 2 times per month.
My why is: Because I want to make the time for us to have fun, talk, and grow closer – and a date night helps us regroup, and it sets a good example for our sons.
My stretch goal (remember, the one that helps make possible your other goals, and requires alot of effort) is to earn a recurring guest blog or columnist spot at a major publication.
My why for this goal is that I want to share valuable information to readers AND help grow a larger audience.
Notice that my whys for each goal intersect with my purpose and my strengths, some more obviously than others.
As you review your goals every day, you can muse on your longer term plans, and determine the next step you need to take that day toward achieving your goals. You can modify your goals as needed to reflect your changing priorities and experience.
Now you have a framework to set your SMARTEST goals. Are you exploring a lot of ideas and imagining the possibilities? In my next article, we’ll tackle how to plan for and overcome opposition to achieving your goals!
Here are a few other tips:
It’s important to set aside some time and find a place where you can concentrate to set or recalibrate your goals.
*Get ready to write – you will give yourself an advantage because when you write down a goal you have a 42% greater probability of achieving it.
To write, use your smartphone’s notes (that way your can look at your goals often, anytime, anywhere), or use your computer, or a pencil & paper.
What are your goals for this year? You have plenty of time to achieve more than you’ve dared to imagine – it starts by imagining and writing down your SMARTEST goals. I’d love to learn about how you set and achieve goals.