In his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Steven Covey told readers to “begin with the end in mind.” Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
Goals are the path we want to travel in life, and goal setting is the roadmap to take us there. Goals fuel our dreams and move us toward success.
The Power of SMART Goals
For goals to be powerful, they should be SMART. Many people have heard of SMART goals, but how do they work? SMART can mean many things, but SMART goals should be:
- Specific: Goals must be clear and well defined. If the goal is too general, it will not be helpful because it doesn’t provide enough direction. A clearly defined goal will tell you exactly where you want to end up. Define the goal as much as possible using clear language. Maybe you want to enroll in a computer class, find an internship or improve your interview skills. Knowing exactly what you want will help you set well-defined goals.
- Measurable: Include exact amounts, dates and other information in your goals. Using concrete numbers will make it easier to track your progress and measure your success. A good measurable job search goal could be, “I will contact at least five employers each week, apply for at least two open positions, and follow up with my Employment Network or Vocational Rehabilitation counselor every month.”
- Achievable: It is important to make sure you can actually achieve your goals. Setting a goal that has little chance of success can make you less confident. The best balance is to set challenging yet realistic goals. Contacting five companies per week to ask about job openings is an achievable goal. To make this goal even easier to achieve, for example, you can post your resume on job-search websites and set up electronic alerts for job openings that match your skills. These strategies can help you find several job leads each week.
- Relevant: Motivation is key to achieving your goals. Lining up your goals with your personal values will help you stay on track. If your goal is to earn enough money to buy a car to get to and from work so that you don’t have to depend on public transportation, find a picture of the car you want and post it where you’ll see it often. This will remind you of your goal and the benefits of earning a paycheck.
- Time-Bound: Goals need a deadline so you know you’ve reached your target. When you set a deadline for yourself, you feel especially driven to reach it. Breaking longer-term goals down into several short-term goals can be a great way to achieve success. Like checking a task off your to-do list, it will also encourage you to set the deadline for meeting your next short-term goal. If you continue to meet short-term goals, you’ll eventually be able to achieve your long-term goal. You Can Do It!
You Can Do It!
Setting SMART goals is just the first step in pursuing your dreams. After creating your goals:
- Put them in writing. This makes them feel real.
- Make an action plan. Include all steps needed along the way.
- Stick with it. Commitment is the key to success!
What will you decide to accomplish today?