Learning to Set Goals – Part 2: Lesson 14 in the Empowering Young Entrepreneur Series

How will you know when you have reached your goal?

Your goal needs to be as clear and precise as possible so that you know exactly when you have reached it.  One way to do this is to set the goal as a numerical figure.  If you can produce a clear ‘yes’, or ‘no’ response to whether you have reached your goal then you have successfully created a measurable objective.

For example, consider the goal of a financial target: Earn $100,000 by the end of the year.  Another example would be:  Make 5 contacts each day.

The numerical and precise nature of your goal allows you to effectively evaluate whether or not you have successfully reached your target when the end of the year arrives.

Does your goal make you go ‘wow?’

Is it important that the goal you set be ambitious?

Some people will tell you that goal setting should be realistic and attainable.  On the surface this makes perfect sense, because you want to set goals that you have a good chance of hitting.  And possibly failing to hit your goals because of aiming too high may leave you feeling a little depressed.

Others will suggest that goals should be set as high and as ambitious as possible because there is no logical reason why you cannot achieve whatever it is that you want.

It is only through your negative internal belief systems that you decide what is and what isn’t realistic.  Years of conditioning have encouraged us to develop a limited view of our potential.

Aim for the stars and you will catch the moon.

Have you written down your goal?

Once you have precisely and clearly established what it is that you want to aim for, write it down.

Your goal should be written down in a specific style in order to be successful.

Although goals are inherently in the future write your goal in the present tense. For example; instead of writing ‘I will have a successful business’, write ‘I have a successful business.’ This will add immediate impact to the strength of your goal.

The second point is to make sure when you write down your goal it is something you want instead of something you don’t want.

If you focus your energies on what you don’t want unfortunately you will attract what you don’t want into your life.  It is always more powerful to move towards something, instead of away from something.  For example wanting to make more money is much more effective than focusing on getting out of debt.

Is any goal better than having none at all?

Even if you do not master an effective goal setting program on your first attempt, having a bad goal setting program is better than nothing.  Setting any kind of goal is better than relying on luck.

Teddy Roosevelt once said; ‘in any moment of a decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.

Even if you obtain a goal that you realize you did not actually want, at least you are one step closer to finding what it is you really want. As Tom Watson (Founder of IBM) famously said; “if you want to be a success, double your rate of failure.

Watch for Part 3 tomorrow.

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Lynn Baillie - July 14, 2012

I love the quote from Teddy you’ve used in your post and I agree taking some kind of action is better than nothing. Most people sadly miss their goals because they never take the action to write them down!

I’ve used the SMART way of working for years when in the corporate world and it does work.

Some great points here so thanks for sharing.

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    Julia - July 14, 2012

    Thank you for leaving your comment Lynn. I have heard of the smart goals approach before and while we didn’t call it that in my work (clinical social worker) we did have to make major changes in the way we wrote our treatment plans to include measurable outcomes. I put the two together. And of course, the objectives had to be clear enough for the clients to understand them and we could not say what the client would not do, but what they would do. So if the objective was “client will reduce the number of cigarettes he smokes,” that changed to “client will reduce the number of cigarettes he smokes each day from 5 to 3.” Then we had to reevaluate each quarter.

    It was a real pain until we got the hang of it. It really does make more sense.

Alan Miles - July 15, 2012

Our thinking is so much attuned, Julia – writing goals down, making them measurable, making sure you can ask ‘Did I achieve – yes or no?’

I wonder if you’ve come across the Achievement Plan model on my site, where I put this to work in a job specification for a Nail-Bar Manager? (Go beyond the initial job summary – till you find ‘Responsibilities’)
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    Julia - July 15, 2012

    I haven’t seen the Achievement Plan model yet, but I’m on my way to your site to look at it. It just makes sense, particularly in light of the fact that many of our kids spend too much time on quickly moving video games and don’t have long attention spans. We need to provide as many tools as possible to keep them on track.

Sherry Richert Belul - July 17, 2012

Julia, I love how you packed so much punch into this short piece. What a fabulous reminder of how some very simple shifts in how we phrase our goals can have a big impact. I, too, really appreciated that Teddy Roosevelt quote! Thanks so much!

    Julia - July 17, 2012

    Thank you leaving your comment Sherry. I appreciate your support. We really need clarity with our goals or we could be wasting time. I’m glad you found some of the tips to be a good reminder.

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