How to Set Goals You Will Achieve

Goals. We’ve all had them and, most likely, currently have a goal or two we’re currently striving towards. Make no mistake… goals are good. They give us something to shoot for.

Unfortunately, the way most of us go about setting goals isn’t all that effective. So, what I’d like to share with you today is a 5-step process for setting rock solid goals we WILL achieve. In the business, and continuous improvement, world we call these SMART Goals.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. Let’s look at each one in turn.

First, goals must be specific and not general is scope. For example, a general goal might be, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to try to go to daily Mass more often.” Again, these goals aren’t “bad” but they are far too vague. So, better, more specific, goals would be, “I want to lose 15 pounds” and “I want to attend daily Mass on Tuesday and Friday.”

Next, a SMART goal must be measurable. In other words, we must be able to see and measure success in a qualitative manner. We’re in good shape, no pun intended, with our “lose 15 pounds” target since we can weigh in each week assuming we have a scale. And we can also keep track of whether we make it to Mass on Tuesday and Friday each week.

SMART goals must also be attainable meaning we must be excited about our ability to achieve them. For example, if your work schedule simply doesn’t allow you to attend Mass every day of the week don’t make that a goal! You’re not going to succeed. Likewise, instead of attempting to “boil the ocean” with an ultra aggressive weight loss goal (i.e. I want to lose 65 pounds) start with something you know you can achieve such as the 15 pound goal mentioned earlier.

The R in SMART stands for relevant which means we should focus on what’s important. I’d even take this further and encourage you to ask yourself if this goal is going to make you a better follower of Christ and person. And, no, getting that new BMW X5 probably won’t make you a better follower of Christ or person.

Finally, goals must be time bound. In other words, we must state when we hope to reach the goal or target in question. This is extremely important as it creates a sense of urgency and commitment. So, we might say, “I want to lose 15 pounds by December 15” or “I want to attend daily Mass every Tuesday and Friday starting this week.”

Lastly, another concept to keep in mind as it relates to time bound goals is something called the Parkinson’s Syndrome which basically states that if you give someone a deadline of next Friday they’ll typically finish the task next Friday… however, if you give this same person the same task with a deadline of next Wednesday they’ll typically find a way of getting the job done on Wednesday.  So, while I’m not recommending you simply shorten deadlines… I am saying that time bound targets can be powerful motivators!

Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!