“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” – Napoleon Hill
What do Sir Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robbins and many other successful leaders have in common? They all take time to set personal and professional goals to achieve the results they want.
A great way to start a new year is by writing down the things that you purposefully set off to accomplish during the previous year and determine what actions, skills and/or individuals helped you get there. Looking back at your successes will help you identify ongoing aims, discover unnoticed interests and visualise a new you for the year ahead.
If you have never made time to carefully craft a plan to help you achieve the goals and dreams you would like to realise, fret not. Here is a step-by-step guide to helping you transform the invisible into the visible.
Writing down your goals will help you identify exactly what it is you want to achieve. It will make your goals concrete and allow you to review them at all times. To ensure you are on top of your goals game, it is important to read your goals once or twice a day. You have to be fully committed to ensure all action is for the purpose of manifesting the results you want.
Many people write vague goals on a piece of paper, put them away and never look back until the year ends (if they can find the paper!). Then they realise they have not achieved any of their goals and blame the goal-setting tool itself and not for their lack of responsibility towards acting on their dreams.
Here is what we can apply to help us focus on the action. At work, we learn that goals should be SMART, i.e. for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
Measurable I will know I have done it when I have signed 10 contracts worth RM50,000 each (this means an average of 2.5 signed deals per month over 4 months).
Achievable I will create a new database of larger companies and target larger scale projects for the purpose of generating more revenue from my sales. I will spend 4 hours each day making calls and developing trust-based relationships with key stakeholders at each company in order to ensure all deals are closed within the quarter.
Realistic Despite the first quarter of the calendar year being the last quarter of the financial year, many large companies still have enough budget to invest in our services. Whether they would like to make use of our services/products within the quarter or wait until the start of the new financial year, I will aim to have all contracts signed by the end of April.
Time-bound … by the end of the first quarter (April/May 2018) This sample aim is quite ambitious and whether the timing is right or not, whether it is entirely realistic or not, what is sure is that reading this goal daily at work and sticking to the action plan is sure to yield positive results.
Personal goals, however, needn’t be so realistic. Sometimes, the best motivation for drastic action and incredible results is being able to visualise something that seems unrealistic.
Branson said that most of the business ideas he later developed into highly successful businesses seemed ridiculous at the time. Nevertheless, he wrote them down.
Take this goal, for instance: “I will lose 50kg and enter a body building competition by November 2018.”
At first glance, this goal seems unrealistic because a person who needs to lose 50kg is likely extremely overweight, not used to doing physical activities and probably follows an unhealthy diet. Weight loss goals are amongst the top goals to be dropped off people’s lists because they require too much discipline and dramatic lifestyle changes to achieve them. On top of that, this person hopes to compete as a body builder. It all seems highly unlikely to happen, isn’t it?
Wrong! Most times, the greater the goal, the higher the motivation. What is important is having a plan to help you break down a long-term goal into shorter term goals. Daily progress is the key to making dreams come true!
So, you have a huge goal but no idea how to get there? Close your eyes and imagine yourself benefiting from the results of that goal.
Whether it involves a lifestyle change, a brand new car, winning a competition, learning a new skill, or whatever your dreams might be, what will take you there is backward planning. Ask yourself, what would I need to do or have to maintain these changes? Let the answers become your short-term goals.
Let’s explore this seemingly ludicrous scenario: You want to make RM1mil additional income in the next six months. You have no investments and no other income than your salary. How can you get there? The truth is that nobody knows how you will get there, but what is sure is that where there is a will, there is a way.
Imagine the changes: you buy a new car, a new house, you put your children into a better school, you can finally get your own business started, etc. How much money does each of these changes cost yearly? Monthly? Weekly? Daily?
Breaking things down into smaller units of information can help you think of ways in which you can leverage your current skills and possessions to find new ways of creating additional income towards your original big dream.
What’s more, the awareness you create about what you need will heighten your perception and enable you to see opportunities for growth, investment and partnerships that you might have otherwise overlooked.
Share your goals with others
Involving family, friends or colleagues in your goals can help you stay motivated and on track. You are also less likely to fall off the wagon easily, since your loved ones will come to your rescue whenever you feel demotivated or need a little pep talk.
The more people who know what you are working towards, the better your chances of increasing your network, being exposed to new and different environments and of developing more meaningful and strategic relationships with others.
People generally love to be part of other people’s success stories and are happy to use their contacts to help others in their quests. Take advantage of this and let those around you support your dreams.
Celebrate your progress
You are one month into the year, you have been taking conscious action towards your dreams and you have achieved some progress. Perhaps you have lost 5kg and gone down one dress size or you have just closed a RM20,000 deal.
Maybe you have completed your first four beginner-level German language classes or you have started baking cupcakes in your free time and made enough money to pay a monthly membership to the gym.
All action is progress and it is worth celebrating. It will make you feel good about yourself and reinforce the idea that it is the small steps that make the big changes.
Watch this video on the importance of celebrating our little successes:
After you celebrate, do come back to read your original goal, revise the action you have taken to achieve the progress you are celebrating and stay motivated to keep doing what you are doing until you get there!
Barbara is an experienced teacher, trainer and manager with more than 12 years experience in the field of education. She has been living and working in Malaysia for the past four years, where she carries out extensive work to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace. To share your goal-setting success or failure stories with us, write to us at email@example.com. Besides this goal-setting tool, self-mastery is also an important ‘tool’ that will keep us on our toes, pushing us out of our comfort zones and driving us towards excellence. Leaderonomics has several empowerment programmes that uncover self-mastery techniques to help you discover and maximise your potentials. Write in to us through firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.