Perhaps the most important key is that the goal must be personal. That means you are taking ownership of not only setting the goal but also of achieving it. And in accepting the responsibility, good and not so good, that will come with the manifestation of the goal. If you have ever been told to set goals at work as part of your career development planning, and struggled with balancing the company’s interests and your personal interests, you may understand what I mean. Bottom line, make your goal personal for maximum impact.
This aspect of goal setting sometimes gets a bad name because people unfairly link it with procrastination. However, there is an old saying that makes a lot of sense and it goes something like this: “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Now here is a part of corporate life that makes a lot of sense. You would not last very long in a responsible position if your business goals contained minimal planning — it might be considered almost as negligent. True, high level strategic goals often start off with minimal planning. But, in order for the strategic goals to make sense, there’s a lot of tactical planning to be done. In the case of personal goals, one of the most effective tactical planning methods is the SMART methodology – where your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
The setting of your goals is all important. Don’t misunderstand! This has nothing to do with the mechanics of setting Smart goals. The word “setting” refers to the current reality in which these goals will be expected to start growing. For example, if you are planning to leave your day job and start an Internet business, what is the setting in which this venture will have to grow? Have you already done the market research? Do you have sufficient funds to startup the business and draw only a minimal or zero salary from it? Clearly, planning and setting are related and you should focus on both of them. In plain English this is sometimes known as a “reality check”.
What good is a goal if the success it brings you is not what you really wanted? A lot of people who fling themselves heart and soul into achieving monumental goals that might take many years, often confess to being somewhat disappointed with the outcome. This is a complicated area to analyze because personal expectations and desires about success vary widely. However, once you start on the path to achieving your goal, take a little time now and then to check if the success it is starting to bring you is what you really want. If it is not, then make some changes!
Although I recommend that you seriously consider applying all four of these keys to your own personal goal setting, if I had to choose just one it would be the first one – personal. Spending time and energy on someone else’s goal is no fun if it doesn’t align with your own goals or values. To keep you on track, try this simple test: On a scale of one to 10, how personal are the top three goals in your own life right now? (10 = 100% my own goal. 1= 100% belongs to someone else!)