The 1st Pillar – FOCUS: The Power of Written Goals!

Where is your focus? What are you trying to achieve? Without a set of clear written goals, it’s easy to lose focus and spend (waste?) your time and energy on the most urgent or “important” thing in front of you at any given moment.

The first of our three articles explains The 1st Pillar: FOCUS – The Power of Written Goals!

Do you have any goals?

If I asked you, “What are your goals?” could you tell me? Have you written them out? Where are they?

Before you get all worked up, I realize you probably can’t stand the word: GOAL. That, or when you hear it, you think of that soccer/football announcer yelling, "GOOOOOOOOOOOALLLLLL!!!"

If you want to resolve those elusive "things" bouncing around in your head, I suggest you’ll be more successful if you write them out as goals.

Why? The key here is effectiveness and efficiency. Very little gets accomplished effectively or efficiently without written goals.

If you’ve done any reading or research on goals, you may have heard of an often-cited study that looked at a group of college graduates over a 20-year period and found the graduates who had written out their goals – only 3% of the group – were more successful than the other 97% combined!!! Even the graduates who had goals but did not write them out were not as successful as the ones who did.

Oh, you may achieve things and cross items off a to-do list – by the way, those are written goals – but you’ll accomplish more and do it more quickly if you write out your goals. But will they be the most important things on which to focus your time and energy? Will they be the things that keep nagging at you? Will they be your “Big Rocks” as Stephen Covey calls them?

How many goals should I have?

You can have as many goals as you have the energy and desire on which to focus. To work towards a balanced life, I suggest you consider at least one goal in each of the following areas:

  • Spiritual – this involves exercising your faith, religion, or higher power
  • Mental – this involves learning and exercising your brain
  • Emotional – this involves spending time with yourself
  • Physical – this involves exercising your body and developing healthy eating habits
  • Social – this involves focusing on family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, etc.
  • Professional – this involves working on your “work” life

The goals are in order of focusing Up (higher power), In (to yourself), and then Out (to others). Choosing a goal in each area will help create more balance; neglecting any one area may lead to that “something is missing” feeling.

How do I write out my goals?

Try this:

On <date> I am <adverb> <verb> <desired goal>.”

Saying, "I want to lose weight," is not a goal. It’s a nice thought.

Saying, "I want to lose 10 pounds," is not an actionable goal either. It’s a nice idea. You can lose 10 and gain back 20. Have you really accomplished your goal?

A powerful written goal is:

"On June 1, 2008, I am happily stepping on my home scale and weigh 140 pounds."

Why? It’s powerful because it includes the four basic elements—a date, a motivating adverb, an observable action, and the specific, measurable goal—it is present-tense oriented (“I am” not “I will”), and it passes the “people on the street” rule. If you asked three people walking by on the street how they would know if you accomplished your goal and all three people say the same thing, you have yourself a powerful goal. Anyone can call you up or stop by on June 1, 2008 and see whether you weigh 140 pounds.

It’s also powerful because it includes all of the following SMART elements (you’ve probably seen some version of these before):

Specific: General and vague goals don’t generate results. Be exact about what your end result looks like in a short, simple, specific sentence. If you want to read a book, what is its title? Set a target date. Apply the “person” on the street test.
Measurable: Use a quantitative measure. Express the desired goal using a number, a percentage, a time (e.g., for a race), a multiple (doubled, tripled…) or some other relevant measure.
Attainable: No “pie in the sky” stuff. You must be able to achieve the goal by the target date. It should require some stretch effort on your part, but it should not be so easy that it does not challenge you.
Relevant: Align the goal with one of your balance areas and it will be more relevant and meaningful. Think “big rocks.” If it doesn’t resonate with you, you’ll soon run out of steam trying to achieve it.
Track-able: This is where Specific and Measurable mesh so you can track progress on your goal over time. It helps to know how on or off target you are over time.

A powerful goal is written out in a way that others can easily understand it AND determine whether you’ve achieved it.

So what’s next?

Take out something to write on (or use your computer) and create one goal in each of the balance areas using the tips.

My current Spiritual goal is:

On ______________ I will ______________ __________________________ and __________________________________.

My current Mental goal is:

On ______________ I will ______________ __________________________ and __________________________________.

My current Emotional goal is:

On ______________ I will ______________ __________________________ and __________________________________.

My current Physical goal is:

On ______________ I will ______________ __________________________ and __________________________________.

My current Social goal is:

On ______________ I will ______________ __________________________ and __________________________________.

My current Professional goal is:

On ______________ I will ______________ __________________________ and __________________________________.

Contact us by phone or e-mail if you’d like help setting and/or achieving your goals:

Copyright 2006 Response-Able Consulting. All rights reserved.

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