Let me ask you straight-up: Would you work for a company which doesn’t know why it exists? Doesn’t have yearly, quarterly and monthly goals? Doesn’t know what its profits/losses are? And doesn’t know what is it interviewing you for? Would you, or have your brother(s)/sister(s)/kid(s) attend a school/college/university which doesn’t have a curriculum? Doesn’t have evaluation sessions and parent-teacher meetings to reflect on the growth of the student? Well, my gut says, since you are on this page and because you are a smart individual, your answer to all the above questions is a big ‘NO.’
Now, my most important question to you is: If you won’t trust an institution like that, will you trust an individual who doesn’t know what he wants and where he is going? What if that individual is you? If you want to attend a top university, or if someone wants to hire you, or say if you want run your own show, but don’t know your reasons for doing what you do, in any case, will you achieve high levels of success? If you plan to attend a great university and they learn that little Sam/Samantha doesn’t know his/her goals, passions and dreams; or if you are self-employed and don’t have a mission statement for your company and are simply flowing with the wind, what kind of a future do you have? That being said, it is obvious then, that we all should plan and set goals.
That being said, planning and setting goals is a time-consuming serious task. You might be wondering well, how do I then plan and set goals effectively? To get started, follow the following:
Buy a planner
Or if you are comfortable, use your smartphone, computer or anything that you have access to everyday.
Secondly, write down all your dreams and plans in no particular order. The point is to just write. Doing so ensures that you now have all your hopes, wishes, and dreams in front of you. Regardless of the time it takes, you now have the life you want in front of you. Congratulations :).
Arrange Your Dreams
Next, arrange your dreams in an order based on priority and accessibility. Divide your goals under immediate-short-term (1-6 months), mid-term (6 months-1 year), and long-term (more than a year) goals. It is important that you understand that priority and accessibility both are important. For instance, buying an Audi might be on your list as a priority (short-term goal), but if you currently don’t have the financial accessibility to purchase it, such a goal should be kept under mid-term or long-term planning based on where you are and where you realistically see yourself in the next six months to a year’s time.
Key Note: Planning short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals gives a concrete formation to your feelings and dreams, thus making them possible.
Once distributed, it’s now time to put them in to a plan of action which is S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timeable). It is important that your plans meet the S.M.A.R.T. criteria as it is only then that you can nurture your dreams in to a reality. Let’s take an example to understand this better:
Say, you want to lose 10 kgs (22 lbs) in the next 6 months. This qualifies your goal to be a mid-term one. Remembering that we need to plan ‘S.M.A.R.T.-ly’ let’s set monthly targets. Let’s say we set a target of losing 1 kg (2.2 lbs) in the first two months each and 2 kgs (4.4 lbs) in the following four. Now that you know how much you need to lose this month, you can further divide it in to weekly goals. Say you set to lose .25 kg (0.5) lbs this week. In addition, you promise to drink at least 3 liters of water, have your last meal by 8 PM and add fruits, juices & healthy snacks to your diet in order to fill-in for that extra hunger. Ask yourself, if you do that, are your chances of achieving your goal higher? ABSOLUTELY!
Remember, you need to create S.M.A.R.T. plans if you are serious about living the life of your dreams. Do this with all your goals. It may take you one hour or one day or one week, but ask yourself, if it took you one week to layout all your dreams for the next one year in a way you could confidently achieve them, isn’t it worth it?
Review and Reflect
The penultimate step is to review and reflect on your goals at least once a day. Make all the adjustments whenever needed based on what circumstances come on your path to ensure you stay on track. I would also strongly suggest that you reflect and plan week by week every Sunday night. In addition, on the last Sunday of every month, reflect on your monthly plans, plan your next month, and on your gut (as it knows a lot), rate yourself of how you fetched in working towards your dreams in the month gone by. This will ensure you stay focused and your conviction stays strong.
Re-Plan, If Needed
Finally, when things go off track or not as planned because life happens, don’t get discouraged. Instead, re-plan. Remember, you may lose a few battles, but planning along with commitment and perseverance will ensure you win the war.
So what are you waiting for my friend, get started!