Is it possible to pursue a dream while attending school, employed at a job, and juggling multiple responsibilities? Absolutely!
By knowing what you want to achieve, you can plan when, where, and how you must concentrate your efforts to successfully reach your goals. If you feel frustrated or anxious as you think about defining goals, you may, as Amy Lynn Andrews, author of Tell Your Time, observed, feel “stuck” in one of the following areas:
- You don’t know how to define your goals.
- You don’t have a plan to pursue your goals.
- You have goals, but don’t believe you have the resources to reach your goals.
- You have goals, but don’t believe you have time to reach your goals.
- You have goals, but don’t believe you have support from families and friends.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, believed the act of writing goals sets things into motion. He explained, “Your mind accepts the challenge and will consciously and unconsciously work to achieve the goal.”
A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. The act of writing your goals packs your dream with power and sets the dream-to-action process onto a course headed towards success.
When I stepped out on my own as a speaker and author, I needed an online home office.
My first SMART goal was “I successfully design a website that includes a blog by January 1st.” I scoured the Internet to find quality websites and blogs. I checked out library books about websites. I joined networking groups and watched countless do-it-yourself website design videos.
My website SMART goal looked like this:
SPECIFIC: I successfully design a website that includes a blog by January 1st.
MEASURABLE: I develop a timeline with deadlines for each section of my website. I write biweekly blog posts.
ACHIEVABLE: I possess the creative and innovative knowledge, skills, tools, and financial resources to design my own website. I also hired a professional to offer assistance as needed.
REALISTIC: The plan for this website serves as a platform to connect with others and meet my professional goals. I devote time (30 minutes 3 days a week) within my schedule to complete this goal.
TIME-BOUND: I create sufficient short-term goals with specific target dates to complete this project. I launch the website on January 1st.
Defining a SMART goal does not guarantee achieving it will be easy. I did not know the vocabulary of website design; I had no words to describe my questions. I had no idea where to find the information once I defined my goal. However, a clear and concise SMART goal provided me with a destination that pointed me in the right direction.
Consider the following questions as you construct a SMART goal:
A SMART goal is SPECIFIC. What do you want to accomplish? Why do you want to accomplish it? What are the benefits? Who is involved? Where will the work to pursue and complete this goal be located?
A SMART goal is MEASURABLE. How much will it cost to accomplish your goal? What tools will you use to measure progress? What targets will you establish as you progress towards your goal? How will you know you have reached your goal?
A SMART goal is ACHIEVABLE. How will your goal be accomplished? Is your plan action-oriented? What knowledge and skills do you possess to reach this goal? What knowledge and skills are needed to reach this goal? Are resources available to support the pursuit of your goal?
A SMART goal is REALISTIC. Do you have time to pursue this goal? Why is your goal meaningful and worthwhile? Is there a need for someone like you to pursue this goal? Does this goal compete with other priorities in your life?
A SMART goal is TIME-BOUND. When will you start working toward this goal? When will your plan be implemented? What will you do within the next six months to reach your goal? What will you do within the next six weeks to reach your goal? What will you do this week to reach your goal? When do you hope to reach your goal?
I am often asked, “How is an attainable goal different from a realistic goal?”
An achievable goal is a goal with which you possess the knowledge, gifts, talents, passion, and skills to accomplish your goal. If you lack the knowledge or skills to reach your goal, what can you do to attain it?
Achievable skills are related to knowledge and skills; realistic goals are related to time. You may, for example, want to be a doctor. You can’t begin clinical rotations without the required college coursework, but you can explore colleges that offer programs that will help you reach your goal. You may not have the time to devote eight hours a day to write the book you’ve always wanted to write, but ask yourself, “How much time can I devote to writing?” Fifteen minutes a day three days a week? Set aside time that works within your realistic time constraints.
Additional Tips for Writing Goals
Here are more tips to consider as you write your goals:
- State each goal as a positive statement. Express your goals with positive words. Rather than stating “Don’t be afraid to contact apply for a new job,” say “I confidently contact five potential employers this week.”
- Be precise. Set specific goals; include dates, times, and measurable amounts so you can track your progress. Rather than stating “I want to exercise,” say “I walk my dogs on the half-mile course at the park every day at 8:30 a.m.”
- Set objective performance goals. As you write goals, use action verbs that can be observed and measured as opposed to abstract and subjective goals. Rather than stating “I want to publish a book,” say “I dedicate 20 minutes every day to writing so I can publish my ebook in six months.”
- Set priorities. Prioritizing tasks helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed by focusing your attention on important choices and activities that are directly connected to your goal. If accomplishing your goal is extremely important to you, you may have to ask others for help to complete less important tasks. Or you may need to eliminate certain tasks from your schedule as you pursue your goal.
- Arrange time in your schedule to pursue your passions. Breaking down your dream into specific goals that fit into your schedule takes work and effort. You must consider how much time you have within a twenty-four hour period that can be devoted to tasks that will help you meet your goals.
Richard G. Scott said, “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.” Commitment to a process is crucial to the development of a successful action plan.
As you write your SMART goals and, more importantly, review and revise them, you will make conscious choices that will lead you to success. You will experience greater confidence as you watch your desired goals unfold in your life.
What one thing can you do today that will move you one step closer to your goal?
Do you want to get clear about your direction? Find helpful tips and learn how to Write a Personal Purpose Statement.
Discover Why You Need a Definite Chief Aim and create a statement that will steer your efforts in the direction you want to go.
Find out how to Transform Passion into a Career.
Use tips from my personal goal-setting book, Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide, to create a plan of action to transform your goals into reality.
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