Many of you have struggled with setting goals for positive change in your lives. I have written about the process of Smart-Steps for executing personal change goals. Now I would like to step back and write about the benefits of goal setting in general.
If you want to succeed in making personal changes and take more control of your life, you need to set goals. Without goals you lack focus, direction and commitment. Goal setting not only allows you to take control of your life’s direction; they also provides you with a scorecard and metric for assessing whether you are actually accomplishing and succeeding in what you set out to change. If your goal is to make a difference in the lives of the homeless, then keeping the money for yourself is suddenly contrary to how you would define success.
To accomplish your goals, however, you need to know how to set them. You can’t simply say, “I want” and expect it to happen. Goal setting is a process that starts with careful consideration and clarity of what you want to achieve, and begins with action a lot of small steps and sometimes time consuming and difficult work to actually do it. These action steps I call Smart-Steps that are critical in reaching the specifics of each goal. Knowing how to use Smart-Steps will allow you to formulate goals that you can accomplish.
Set short- and long-term goals for yourself. The best kind of goals are challenging, specific, measurable, and personally motivating and important to you. Try to set goals that are based on achieving something positive rather than avoiding or trying to eliminate something negative. It will be helpful for you to write about your goal, with lots of detail and specificity: think about what sub-goals you must achieve first, when you are going to devote time to work towards your goal, when you will reach it, what personal strengths you can use, who is going to provide support or help keep you on track and what obstacles need to be overcome.
Many people also find it helpful to share their plans with others, or to have someone working towards the same goal with them (like having a work-out coach or buddy if your plan is to get in shape). It will be easier for you to stay on track with the support of family, friends or a coach. Taking these steps makes it much more likely that you will reach your goal, and once you are successful, you will be more likely to set more challenging goals and achieve even more.
More Resources checkout: Frisch, Dr. Michael B. and Caroline Adams Miller. Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2009.
Self- Coaching Challenge:
Goal : On a daily basis over the next seven days express more gratitude to others for being in your life and supporting your efforts to be a happier person.
Expressing Gratitude: Research on Positive Psychology and Happiness show that when we are grateful for what is positive and provides enjoyment in our lives, we appreciate them more.
Activity: Begin by assessing your overall happiness. On a 1 (feeling bad or miserable) to 10 (feeling joyful and happy) where are you today. Write your happiness number down and date it. Next in your Personal Happiness Journal write down 3 things you are thankful for each day over the next week. The key to this exercise is to be focused on remembering in as much detail the situation you were in, who was their, what happened and why you are grateful for the experience. This focus is called re-visualizing or re-experiencing positive experiences. At the end of each day, reflect (and/or write in your journal) about what is was like to do this activity, how it impacted your happiness and anything other lessons you learned.
Something else to keep in mind: gratitude is more powerful when shared rather than kept to yourself. When appropriate, express your gratitude directly to the people you are grateful to. You might try making a gratitude phone call or email to someone who has impacted your life in a positive way and whom you haven’t properly thanked. Then, arrange a “face to face gratitude visit” to deliver your thank you message.