Before you decide whether a single goal fits into your goals program, you should work that goal through a process that can help determine whether you should be pursuing this goal at the current time. This can take considerable time but it can save you much time and frustration by eliminating goals that are not for you at this time and helping to identify what you need to focus on now.
- Target in on your goal: Your goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Remember: Some goals must be big and some goals must be long-range.
Significant goals must be broken down into smaller parts to ensure daily accountability. For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds this year, you can break that down to a goal of 4 pounds a month or 1 pound a week and then figure out how many calories you need to cut out or burn off to achieve that weekly weight loss.
- Identify how you benefit from the goal: People often fail to reach their goals because they concentrate on the costs rather than the benefits. “If I lose the weight,” they reason, “I’ll have to give up this and do that.” Or “If I quit smoking, I know that I’ll gain weight and be miserable and difficult to get along with.”
Instead of concentrating on the negatives, think of the benefits that you’re going to enjoy. As you set goals, make a list of the tangible rewards that will be yours when you reach each goal. Each time you begin to ask yourself whether pursuing a goal is worth the effort, simply take out the list of benefits and read them aloud again.
- List the obstacles that stand between you and your goal: You need to identify obstacles in order to be realistic and avoid being surprised. People have experienced many times that they had no idea that pursuing such-and-such a goal was going to be so demanding, require so much effort, take so long, and involve so many unexpected pitfalls. Careful planning in advance eliminates much of this disappointment, but you must understand that you can’t always see the roadblocks ahead. That’s why commitment, attitude, responsibility, and focus on the benefits remain constant necessities. Patience is also extremely important. Just remember that by keeping yourself focused on the goal, you can see the benefits and not just the obstacles.
Very few people get excited about obstacles. A mammoth traffic jam when you’re in a big hurry or a bad cold just before a long-planned vacation doesn’t create excitement in your life. Disappointments or setbacks of any kind are seldom viewed with enthusiasm. Yet those very difficulties should generate excitement, if for no other reason than that overcoming obstacle makes you strong and enables you to soar to greater heights.