Smart Goals are Achieved Goals
CHANGE IS HARD. In fact, I tried and failed several other times to lose weight. Everyday millions of people decide to make a lifestyle change. And everyday, just like me, millions of people fail to achieve their goal.
It is popularly believed that in 1953 researchers polled the graduating class of Yale University and found that 3% of the graduates practiced goal setting and had a set of clearly defined written goals.
In 1973 researchers went back and visited the class of '53 and found that the 3% of the graduates who had the clear and written goals had amassed a fortune worth more than the other 97% combined. This is powerful evidence that goal setting is a proven process in creating and defining success.
If you really want change to happen then you need to write it down. However, in addition to writing it down, I believe it is paramount that any goal that you set is a SMART goal.
SMART goals have four defining characteristics. They are:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
Goals must reflect what YOU want to happen. Notice the emphasis on YOU. Change for anyone other than yourself has a limited chance of success. Thus, if your spouse wants you to stop smoking but you have not bought in to that then the chance for success is limited. The goal should be to the point. Do not beat around the bush. If weight loss is the goal then rather than saying I want to look better say I want to lose 35 pounds. By emphasizing what you want to happen you will focus and define what it is you are going to do.
Specific is the nuts and bolts of what you are going to do. It answers the What, Why, and How questions.
WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as lose, stop, start, etc.
WHY is the reason that you want to change a behavior. It asks why is this change important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it? (By...)
Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal go to the gym or be healthier, set a specific goal to walk 2.5 miles at a challenging pace.
If it can't be measured then how will you know if you have achieved it? The goal you set becomes your metric by which you will measure your success. In essence, the goal statement is a measure for your success; if the goal is accomplished, there is a success.
Goals that are extremely ambitious or difficult you probably won't commit to doing. Although you may start out with a rush of energy and determination your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will try to derail your effort.
A goal can be a step in the direction of change. For instance, if you aim to lose 100 lbs that may be more than your subconscious can handle. But, by setting a goal to loose 2 pounds a week you can keep your subconscious interested. And when you've achieved that, aiming to lose further pounds will be a possibility.
Do not confuse Realistic with a piece of cake. Realistic, in this case, means within your abilities. It further implies that the skills needed to make a change are available. If they are not available it does not mean the goal is doomed. Rather, it means an intermediary step of attaining those necessary skills is required.
If the skills are not available then devise a plan to get the skills necessary to achieve your goal. In my case, when I decided I wanted to lose weight and become a triathlete I had to take a hard look at my skill sets. I had flat feet, and every time I started to train I got hurt. Thus, I could not become an Ironman until my muscles and joints, etc. were ready. Therefore, I had to take an intermediary step and develop those skills before I could set a goal of becoming an Ironman.
Your goals should be such that they can be attained with some effort! If they are too difficult then you set the stage for failure. If they are too easy you send a message that you are not capable to your subconscious.
Remember your goal is your measure of success. Thus, always set a timeframe for achieving your goal. For example, I will lose 20 pounds by the end of January 2008. An ending point gives you a timeline to work within.
Setbacks can occur if you do not set a timeframe. If you don't set a time, the commitment is too vague. Without an endpoint, there's no urgency to start taking action now.
Writing down my goals and making these goals SMART has enabled me to make life saving changes to my behavior. As a direct result of doing this I have lost over 150 pounds and I am now within ten minutes of my goal to qualify for the Ironman World Championship. I use this skill in all aspects of my personal and professional life.