Article by Jim Rohn
The most important benefit of setting goals isn’t achieving those goals; it’s what you do and the person you become in order to achieve your goals that’s the real benefit.
Goal-setting is powerful because it provides focus. It shapes our dreams. It gives us the ability to hone in on the exact actions we need to perform to achieve everything we desire in life. Goals are great because they cause us to stretch and grow in ways that we never have before. In order to reach our goals, we must become better.
Life is designed in such a way that we look at the long term and live in the short term. We dream for the future and live in the present. Unfortunately, the present can produce many difficult obstacles. But setting goals provides long-term vision in our lives. We all need powerful, long-range goals to help us get past those short-term obstacles. Fortunately, the more powerful our goals are, the more we’ll be able to act on and guarantee that they will actually come to pass.
What are the key aspects to learn and remember when studying and writing our goals?
Here’s a closer look at goal-setting and how you can make it forceful and practical:
1. Evaluate and Reflect
The only way we can reasonably decide what we want in the future and how we’ll get there is to know where we are right now and what our current level of satisfaction is. So first, take some time to think through and write down your current situation. Then, ask this question about each key point: Is that okay?
The purpose of evaluation is twofold. First, it gives you an objective way to look at your accomplishments and your pursuit of your vision. Secondly, it shows you where you are so you can determine where you need to go. Evaluation gives you a baseline to work from.
Take a couple of hours this week to evaluate and reflect. See where you are and write it down so that, as the months progress and you continue to regularly evaluate and reflect, you will see just how much ground you’re gaining.
2. Define Your Dreams and Goals
One of the amazing things we have been given as humans is the unquenchable desire to build better lives. Fortunately, we also have the ability to set goals and live out our dreams.
We can look deep within our hearts and dream of better situations for ourselves and our families. We can dream of better financial, emotional, spiritual, or physical lives. We have also been given the ability to pursue those dreams – and not just pursue them, but actually lay out plans and strategies that help us achieve them. Powerful!
What are your dreams and goals? Have you ever really sat down and thought through your life values and decided what you really want? Have you ever taken the time to truly reflect, to listen quietly to your heart, to see what dreams live within you? Your dreams are there. Everyone has them. They may live right on the surface, or they may be buried deep from years of others telling you they were foolish, but they are there.
Take time to be quiet. This is something that we don’t do enough of in this busy world of ours. We rush, rush, rush, and we’re constantly listening to noise all around us. The human heart was meant for times of quiet. It is when we peer deep within our hearts that we are free to take flight on the wings of our dreams. Schedule some quiet “dream time” this week. No other people. No cellphone. No computer. Just you, a pad, a pen, and your thoughts.
Think about what really thrills you. When you are quiet, think about those things that really get your blood moving. What would you love to do, either for fun or for a living? What would you love to accomplish? What would you try if you were guaranteed to succeed? What big thoughts move your heart into a state of excitement and joy? When you answer these questions, you will feel great. You will be in the “dream zone.” It is only when we get to this point that we learn what our dreams really are.
Write down all of your dreams as you have them. Don’t think of any as too outlandish or foolish. Remember: You’re dreaming! Let the thoughts fly and carefully record them.
Now, prioritize those dreams. Which are most important? Which are most feasible? Which would you love to do the most? Put them in the order in which you will actually try to attain them. Remember, we are always moving toward action – not just dreaming.
3. Make Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.
The acronym “S.M.A.R.T.” means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Sensitive.
- Specific: Goals are no place to waffle. They are no place to be vague. Ambiguous goals produce ambiguous results. Incomplete goals produce incomplete futures.
- Measurable: Always set goals that are measurable. I would say “specifically measurable” to take into account our principle of being specific.
- Attainable: One of the detrimental things that many people do – with good intentions – is setting goals that are so high that they are unattainable.
- Realistic: The root word of “realistic” is “real.” A goal has to be something that we can reasonably make real in our lives. There are some goals that are simply not realistic. You have to be able to say – even if your goal is a tremendous stretch – that yes, indeed, it is entirely realistic. This is in no way to say it shouldn’t be a big goal. It just has to be realistic.
- Time-Sensitive: Every goal should have a timeframe attached to it. One of the powerful aspects of a great goal is that it has an end – a time by which you are shooting to accomplish it. As time goes by, you work on it because you don’t want to fall behind. You may even have to break down a big goal into different aspects and assign timeframes to each. That is okay. Set smaller goals and work them out in their own time.
4. Have Accountability
When someone knows what your goals are, they can hold you accountable by asking you to give an account of where you are in the process of achieving that goal. Accountability gives some to the process. If a goal is set and only one person knows it, does it really have any power? Many times, no, it does not. A goal isn’t as powerful if you don’t have one or more people who can hold you accountable to it.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Jim Rohn, the man many consider to be America’s Foremost Business Philosopher, shared his success philosophies and principles for more than 46 years, with more than 6,000 audiences and 5 million people worldwide. Prior to his passing in 2009, Rohn partnered with SUCCESS magazine to bring his indelible wisdom to our audience, who have long cherished the writings and teachings of this personal development legend. Today, SUCCESS continues to share Mr. Rohn’s timeless principles with long-time fans and newfound followers.