Goals
Friday, 29 March 2013 08:57

Goals

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How did we find our way from being uncivilized hunter gatherers to become the cultured, suburbanite, air-conditioned, technology driven, smartphone using, Facebook consumers we are today? While the "big picture" answer might be complex, the simple truth is we got here by repeating a process. Everything humans have created originated from identifying a possibility, need or desire (motive), and pursuing a solution or satisfaction to that need or desire (goal or volition).

The common definitions are;
Motive: a need or desire that causes a person to act
Goal: the end toward which effort is directed: aim
Volition: the cognitive process by which an individual decides on and commits to a particular course of action

I interpret a goal as an ambition or (potential) result based on a need, desire or vision of what could be. I also like to think of a goal as anything we could be, do or have.
Goals are often distinguished between short-term and long-term. While these terms do not reference a specific length of time, it is commonly accepted that short-term goals reference objectives that might be met in minutes, hours, days, weeks or months. Long-term goals might relatively be thought of in terms of years or even decades.
Before discussing the practical pursuit of goals, I would try to impress that one of the most important psychological aspects of achieving a goal (especially long-term) is the need to believe. Depending on the complexity and duration of a goal, it often requires long-term commitments to supplying energy, resources, focus and countless actions and adjustments to achieve a goal. Often, believing in the goal will provide the primary source of energy a person will draw upon to find all the other resources necessary to pursue and achieve the goal.
Example: I have a brother who was a carpenter. Thirty years ago, he bought a rural five acre plot of land. He and his wife moved onto the land in a camper. While he worked a full time job during the week, he used a portion of each paycheck to buy a few pieces of lumber and other materials to build a house on their land. He spent every weekend building on the house. Some of the phases like roofing and siding required months to save enough money to buy the materials. During those periods, he worked a side job on the weekends to raise the extra funds. It took him four years to get the structure (shell) built and dried in (protected from the elements). And, while the structure was (to become) a 2,600 square foot, two-story, three bedroom, two bath house, he only had two rooms (a crude kitchen and a bathroom) finished when he and his wife moved in. They spent the next 10 years or so "finishing" their home.
This undertaking required long-term discipline and dedication. Without providing a consistent inspired belief in his goal and plan, he would never have found the initiative, patience, resources and determination to finish. He believed in his skill to build a house because he was a carpenter and had the resourcefulness to get help with, or learn what he did not know. He believed in his plan of achieving his goal even though it was completely unconventional. It was this belief that fostered his determination, which helped him choose the discipline to stay focused on his goal through to fruition (almost 15 years). It is worth mentioning that his house is beautiful; in fact it is the nicest house in what has developed into a neighborhood. It is a house you might think a carpenter probably could not afford. And I am guessing he is the only one there who does not have a mortgage.

goals-2Goal Setting

This is the most common goal setting process we follow:

  • Define a specific goal.
  • Create specific plans to achieve the goal.
  • Choose priorities to manage obstacles that will arise.
  • Create deadlines for achievement and re-evaluation.
  • Create schedules and lists for each step.
  • Secure and devote the necessary resources.
  • Evaluate results and navigate to stay on course.
  • Adjust the aforementioned applications until the goal is achieved.

Developing SMART Goals

The following SMART criteria references are from Wikipedia: SMART/SMARTER is a mnemonic to guide people when they set objectives, often called Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), for example with project management, employee performance management and personal development. The letters broadly conform to the words Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive – with the addition of the words Evaluate and Reevaluate used in more recent literature. The first known uses of the term occur in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.
Paul J. Meyer describes the following characteristics of S.M.A.R.T. goals in Attitude is Everything.
Specific – The first term stresses the need for a specific goal. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous. To make goals specific, they must explain exactly what is expected, why is it important, who is involved, where is it going to happen, and which attributes are important. A specific goal will usually answer the five "W" questions:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and constraints.

Measurable – The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know of progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal. A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable – The third term stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch a team or resources, the goal is not extreme. That is, they are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. An attainable goal will usually answer the question:

  • How: How can the goal be accomplished?

Relevant goals (when met) drive the team, department and organization forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal. A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Are you the right person?

Time-bound – The fifth term stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps focus efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency. A time-bound goal will usually answer the questions:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Who You Want to Be

Of the many goal setting seminars I have taken, my favorite was given by Jim Rohn. Rohn has taught motivation since the 1960s and is a pioneer in the field. I sought him out after completing a program with Anthony Robbins that deeply inspired and influenced me. Being a musician taught me to seek out the influences of the people who were influencing me – believing that to get closer to a source of inspiration creates a deeper understanding. In this case, it certainly proved true. Inasmuch, I discovered that Tony Robbins had an apprenticeship of sorts with Jim Rohn so I attended his seminars where I experienced the following method of goal setting.
This seminar resonated so much with me because with repetition, it causes a natural development of short- and long-term goals and helps develop a more disciplined consideration for priorities. This method also caused me to focus more on who I wanted to be and how to set my goals accordingly. With respect to the vast teachings of Jim Rohn, you can find training material on his website. I will briefly share my experience and perspectives to his teachings on goal setting.
For this exercise, a goal was defined as anything we could do, be or have. We were asked to spontaneously write down as many "goals" as we could within a three minute period (without consideration to feasibility). After the timer went off, we were asked to assign a time frame (one, three, five or 10 years) to each of the goals. This time frame would represent how long it would take to achieve that goal if we were dedicated and focused. Next, we calculated how balanced our short- and long-term goals were by evaluating how many one to three year goals we had versus how many five to 10 year (or more) goals we had. Then, we were asked to write an obituary of a person who had achieved the goals on our list. Lastly, we were encouraged to discard the work and repeat the process several times over the next few weeks and months. Repeatedly writing goals and then an obituary proved to have an accumulative effect. Each time the process was repeated, more meaningful and deeply held ambitions consistently surfaced. With repetition, more goals were documented in three minutes and the balance between short- and long-term goals improved. As a result, the more favorable and satisfying the events of this (fictitious) person's life became.

Practical Application

Try the exercise just described. Do not contemplate your goals before you start. Be spontaneous and stay within three minutes. Take the obituary very seriously. Write about what kind of life the person had who achieved these goals. Take mental note of what might be missing. Repeat the process several times over the next few weeks or months.
Also, study the SMART system. Start working with a few goals that seem priority. Apply the system by making a plan, schedules and lists. Evaluate and navigate to stay on course. Remember, to build any skill, start slow with easier objectives. The more accomplishments you have, the easier the
process becomes.
We began with Motivation (Motive) – this builds our foundation. We have added the process of Goals – this provides our structure. Next we will discuss Priorities. This will help us be prepared to contend with obstacles and distractions that will attempt to dilute our efforts.

Wil-StrunkWilliam Strunk is the Publisher of DERMASCOPE Magazine, Founder of WES Publishing Co., Founding Partner with Avalon Media Group and a Partner with the International Congress of Esthetics & Spa. As an entrepreneur for over 30 years, an author and lecturer, Strunk conducts motivational seminars and results oriented workshops on successful business practices. Having started his first business as a teenager, he shares successful behavioral practices that are not taught in business schools. Rather, learned from a lifetime devoted to motivational training and developing relationships with hundreds of other
successful entrepreneurs.

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