Why are goals important? We all have something that we are passionate about or long to be better at. Some of us have dreams that we keep on the inside and just allow them to fester there for awhile. When you get that scheme out of your head and written down on paper, you are on your way to taking the first step towards achieving your goals. Dreams don’t become goals until they are written down.
When it comes to setting a goal, the very first step that matters is having self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is having the confidence and belief that you can change and achieve your goal. You have to believe that your dream is worth pursuing. Belief is the foundation on which goals are set and achieved. You also need to have faith in yourself. Faith comes into play when you are not able to see exactly what the future holds for you or the path in not clear, but knowing that everything is going to work out and you are going to be just fine.
There are five components to developing a really successful goal. These goals are called S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding/Relevant/Realistic, and Time-bound) goals. Successful people have been setting S.M.A.R.T. goals since the 1980s, and they are still highly useful today!
Specific – Goals are achieved when they are broken down into their smaller bits, also known as habits . That’s right, a goal is made up of habits. Sometimes, there are just a handful of habits or small actions that lead to achieving a goal, sometimes there are hundreds. Tiny habit changes build into big successes. When you focus on investigating the habits of people who have achieved your desired goal, you are on the right track. Being specific also addresses the questions of : Who, What, Where, When, Which, and Why. Instead of setting a goal of “working out more”, it might be “I will join a gym and work out 3 times a week”. You can set up opportunities for your success by focusing on the habits you need to build in order to achieve your bigger goal. We build achievement and momentum by successfully changing our habits overtime. This is how we set ourselves up for greatness.
Measurable– But how do you know if you are really changing a habit or making good progress on building a new habit? How will you know when you have accomplished your goal? You have to find a way to measure your progress. Everyone knows that you cannot change what you do not measure and if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. Measuring also gives you the knowledge you need to evaluate how you are doing. Knowledge is the power your brain needs and is essential to change. You have to be honest with where you are at and what direction you are headed in. I measure my progress constantly. I regularly keep my own food log and workout journal, for instance. I believe that successful people never stop tracking their achievements.
Attainable– Can you do this alone without the help of someone else? Are there roadblocks or obstacles that will stand in your way? How can the goal be accomplished? This is really when your game plan comes into action. What are the steps you can take to jump over the hurdles or break-through someone’s doubt in you? Set yourself up to be successful! When I joined my first gym, I made sure that A) I joined with a partner (for accountability), B) It was only a mile from where I lived and C) It was across from my work. So, I had no excuses!
Rewarding/Relevant/Realistic– What are your emotionally-charged reasons why you want to achieve this goal? Why is achieving this goal important to you? How will it change your life? What is the purpose? If you cannot give a valid reason for changing, you won’t change. The reasons you have for this change have to be motivating to you. Often times, you have to feel like you are going to miss out or lose something if change doesn’t happen. For me, I set about 20-25 reasons why losing weight was important to me. The reasons varied in importance of how much they meant to me, but I had a good handful of reasons that honestly made me cry when I thought about them and what it would feel like to not have to feel that way anymore.
Time-bound– When will you reach the goal? If you do not set an end date for your goal, it’s just a wish you have, not a goal. Seldom do wishes come true. But goals are achieved all of the time! Is your goal small enough that it can be achieved in a few weeks? Or is this something that takes more dedication and needs several months? Be sure to set an end date next to your goal when you write it down. With a finish date, you’ll know what kind of progress needs to be made in that time-frame.
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