Explanation of SMART goals

How to Set Realistic Goals for a Stronger Year

This article was written by Columbia College alumnus Kirby Ingles, and originally appeared on his website, KirbyIngles.com.

Have you had goals that failed before you began working on them? Fear can dampen a dream sooner than it starts. Do you struggle with finding the time? Even your attention, energy and focus may be spread across too many goals. In the book "Unstoppable," Cynthia Kersey found in her research only three percent of people have goals, and one percent write them down. There are countless reasons why we fail to reach our destinations in life; these are a few.

Goal setting is not like throwing darts. You do not step up to the line, give the target a glance and hope for the best. Goal setting is a process of anticipating, thinking and synchronizing. 

Achieving a goal can often be determined before you begin. Albert Einstein believed you should spend the first 55 minutes in an hour defining a problem. Then the last five minutes solving it. 

Setting a realistic goal is easy if you do the analysis and understand the current situation. 

If I had nine hours to cut down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my ax.

By using President Abraham Lincoln's words, I'd like to point out the time it took to prepare to achieve his goal. Sometimes goal setters do not understand the development and skills required for the desired result. To increase the rate of success, you have to choose the right tools. Ensure each instrument you are working with is sharpened for effectiveness. This could mean skills such as communication, sales, writing, studying or any other that may come to your mind. It's much easier to cut down a tree with a sharp ax than with a dull blade. The same goes for goals. Hone your skills to be more successful.

Good Goals Promote Growth

Realistic goals should help you grow and push you outside your comfort zone to reach your full potential. 

Challenging goals will yield greater results than easy goals. There is a delicate balance between too difficult and too easy. If you set goals beyond your limits, you will begin to get irritated and slowly lose interest. Try to create a daily task that helps you get after your goals and gives you the energy and motivation to keep pushing on, day after day. Realistic goals are possible through reasonable effort. 

People who set small goals may be afraid of failure. They chase after low-hanging fruit. Your goals should be within your reach, but you need to stretch to reach them. If you do not stretch, there is no personal growth and no personal gain. Accomplishing easy goals will produce feelings of emptiness. Easy goals do not have any power or emotional satisfaction resulting from the effort. 

Good Goals are Manageable 

Realistic goals enable you to place yourself in a position for success. Too big of goals may not be obtainable. Account for the constraints you may encounter when establishing realistic goals. Never ditch a goal because the journey may be longer than you first anticipated. 

Think about the commitments that can sometimes get in the way. Goals can compete against each other. You may have to cut that goal into smaller achievable goals. 

Take into account the time thieves when deciding on your deadlines. Analyze your schedule so you can develop a successful plan. If you attempt too much, you are going to experience frustration. The idea is to focus on healthy and flexible goals. Be optimistic but practical. You can do this by introducing smaller, achievable action steps to your plan. Bite-size chunks harness confidence through consistency and building on momentum. Realistic goals are set by assessing time, cost and other resources to complete the goal. 

Goal setting is powerful and motivating. If implemented correctly, goal setting is a great tool. You must believe the destination is possible. Your beliefs will become your realities. Be certain that your goals are believable, achievable, realistic and aligned with your core values. Your willingness and ability play a factor in making your goals a reality. Force yourself to be honest and revise your goals if necessary. You might not be able to achieve the whole goal during the time you thought. You can take the necessary steps towards it with the proper planning.

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