In 1979, interviewers asked new graduates from the Harvard’s MBA Program if they have written goals for their future and if they made plans to accomplish them. This is how they responded:
- 84% of them had no goals at all;
- 13% of them had goals, but they didn’t write them down;
- 3% of them had clear and written objectives and plans to succeed in future.
Ten years later, the members of the same class were interviewed again. These are the results:
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- the 13% who had goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all;
- the 3% that had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together.
Why set goals?
This study proves how important is to write your goals. Everybody has dreams, but most of us don’t have clear and measurable goals to work towards. Writing them down is a key to success and regularly seeing them will apparently motivate you.
Napoleon Hill said, “Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul; the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” This is what you need to do.
Set personal goals
In determining your real goals, you have to start with your vision, your values and your ideals. You have to make them concrete, put it all on paper and work with them. Many people make the mistake of over-complicating their goals and problems. Keep it simple. The more complicated, the less likely it is to obtain what you want. Simplify the solutions and go directly to the goal, as quickly as possible.
Set only a few primary goals
This is maybe the hardest part of the plan because it’s pretty hard choosing just two or three big goals. This requires extreme focus and dedication. Think about the present and ask yourself some questions to find out what is the most important thing for you at this moment. It must be something that you want, and it has to be clear and precise. You must be able to define it in words.
Set SMART goals
Goals must meet five criteria to apply to this rule:
- Specific – Don’t think about something general like “I want to be rich”. Find out exactly what you want in as much specificity as you can (answers to the question Who, What).
- Measurable – Be precise so you can measure your achievements. Instead of “making a lot of money”, think more like “making $100,000 per year by 2017” (answers to he question How).
- Attainable – Your goals have to be possible to achieve, or else you will only destroy your confidence. They must be believable and achievable.
- Relevant – Your goals need to be consistent with your values and overall vision of your life. You have to define which of your goals are primary or secondary.
- Time-Bound – Always set a reasonable and manageable time frame for your goals (answers to he question When).
Write down your goals
After you set your goals clearly after these rules, write them down on a piece of paper and post them in visible places to remind yourself every day of what you need to do. Some people say that it is even more powerful for you to write them down more often and review them from time to time.
This will become your personal roadmap because the written word provides an anchor to you. It will help you get back to basics if you’ll ever feel lost or unfocused.
Tip: Print more copies of your goals, make them visually pleasant and put them on your walls, laptop/desktop, mirror or refrigerator as a constant reminder.
Make a plan
This step is crucial. After you write your goals, think about an action plan. How can you get there? You can use a mind mapping tool to make it easier and stimulate your creativity. Use a piece of paper for each goal, write them on the center and circle it.
After this, you can start branching off other ideas or possible steps that come to your mind. You can expand that circle or other circles and soon you will have a spider web full of ideas, all interconnected.
Create a vision for everything you want and turn it into a list of smart goals. Keep track of every milestone and watch yourself progressing. It’s also normal to forget the path you have chosen, but as Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again.”
Persistence and determination are your keys to success. Don’t give up because success comes one step beyond failure. Think always in terms of the things you can do right now to solve your problems or achieve your goals, and then get started!
Bonus: You can download a FREE editable template for Goal Planning to help you along the way.
Goal_Planning_Template.zip (23.1 KiB, 218 hits)
Have you tried setting clear goals? Tell me how it helped you in your personal and professional life. I’m looking forward to hearing from you, so don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section below.