Personal Growth & Development

5 Essential Steps to Creating and Attaining Your Goals

A common acronym for setting goals is SMART.  The S stands for Specific.  M is for measurable.  A stands for achievable.  R is for realistic.  T stands for time-bound.  Think of a goal as a dream with a timeline.  Every goal needs a target date for completion. 

If you do design SMART goals, do not lose sight of your “big picture” goals – your future vision.  SMART goals can help you climb the ladder of success step-by-step, only to find that it may be leaning on the wrong wall.

Beyond Insurance would like to offer the following 5-step strategy for effective goal-setting. 

Step 1 – List your goals A to Z.  The art of goal-setting begins with writing your personal and professional goals from A to Z.  Don’t hold back.  Write down whatever comes to your mind.  Go nuts and take pride in the length and diversity of your list.  This exercise will give you energy and motivation.  It is also fun. 

Some of your goals will be short-term while others will be futuristic.  Don’t worry about that.  Just focus on writing down goals that are important to you.  You may wish to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my purpose and mission in life? 
  • How do I want to focus my time and energy?
  • What are my developmental needs at this point in my life?
  • What does my ideal lifestyle look like?

Your goals will cover a wide range of categories including family, career, education, financial, physical, spiritual, community service, etc.  The A to Z exercise will allow you to establish a “big picture” of what is important to you and what you want to do with your life.  Many of your A to Z goals will be “lifetime goals.” 

Step 2 – Prioritizing your goals.  After you have gone through the A to Z exercise, begin listing your goals on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most significant to you at this point in time, and 1 meaning it is not a priority right now.  Here are a few questions that should help you prioritize your goals:

  • Which goal(s) will give me the most energy? 
  • Which goal(s) am I most committed to?
  • What goal(s) offers the most value to me?
  • What goals are fully within my control? 
  • In five years, how important will this goal be to me? 

The process of prioritizing your goals will allow you to break down your A to Z list into smaller targets.  You should gain greater clarity through this exercise. 

Step 3 – Setting your execution strategy and achievement timeframe.  By prioritizing your goals, you have set the stage for an execution strategy through which you are able to define the following plans:

  • Lifetime plan
  • Five-year plan
  • One-year plan
  • 90-day plan  (We will cover this strategy in detail in next week’s blog!)
  • Weekly plan

Your lifetime and five-year plans represent your vision of the future – essential points of your long-term destination.  These “big picture” plans are vital.  However, it will be your ability to execute the weekly, 90-day, and one-year goals that will launch you to your ideal future.

Your one-year goals should be power-packed, the kind that requires you to stretch your capabilities, increase your resources, and make meaningful improvements to your personal and business lives.  Your one-year plan should include meaningful, relevant, motivational, and realistic steps to your long-term vision.  The 90-day plan supports the one-year goals – an essential means to benchmark your progress, reevaluate your priorities, and make sure that you are focused on what matters most.  It is difficult to reach your one-year goals without 90-day plans.

As I look at my career, the weekly plan is an essential key to my success.  I have made it a habit to come to work each week with a plan to accomplish specific objectives that support my 90-day and one-year plans as well as my “big picture” future vision.

Step 4 – Visualization. Mental imagery is essential to goal-setting.  Your ability to see yourself at the point of goal actualization is a key component to successful goal-setting.  Goal-setting breaks down unless you have great clarity about your vision. 

Step 5 – Goal Actualization.  When you achieve a goal, take time to enjoy the satisfaction of what you have accomplished.  Celebrate the moment and absorb the implication of the goal as it relates to your future self.  If your goal is a significant one, reward yourself appropriately.

On occasion, you will not accomplish a specific goal.  You must not lose confidence or get frustrated.  The failure to actualize a specific goal is not important as long as you learned a lesson from the process and gave it your best effort.  Walter Cronkite once said, “I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got.” 

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