Congratulations on making it to a brand-new year! New Year’s season is a great time of renewal, yet resolutions seem to be the butt of many jokes. Whether we set personal, relationship or professional goals, there seems to be a sinister undercurrent expectation that a New Year’s resolution won’t (or even shouldn’t) be kept. So, to counter the pessimism of an optimistic season, let’s look at the strategy and tactics of setting and accomplishing lofty goals.
Begin with the end in mind
This principle from Stephen Covey will help us set our stage. What do you want to be the result of your goal? Figure out what you want to change in your life. This objective is your desire; it is something you want intensely. Do you want to lose weight, become closer with your significant other, earn a promotion, or something completely different? This is the raw ore which will be refined into a proper goal.
Let’s see effective goal-setting in action by turning a personal desire of mine into a goal.
I intend to test for black belt in Soo Bahk Do (Korean Karate). This test is very physically demanding, requiring high levels of technical skill, strength, endurance and flexibility. If I want to refine my desire into a proper goal, I need to make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
George T. Doran laid out the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as excellent criteria for goal setting. To have the greatest chance of success at your goal, it should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound
My S.M.A.R.T. goal to prepare for my black belt test looks like this:
- Specific – In order to perform at black belt level, I need to improve my physical conditioning and health.
- Measureable – My conditioning will be at black belt level when the following criteria are met.
- Reducing my weight within the average BMI for a man of my height and age.
- Having the cardiovascular endurance to deliver 120 consecutive, perfect punches in 30 seconds, and spar at full speed and intensity with another testing candidate for two minutes (requirements for the test).
- Having sufficient flexibility to deliver a side kick at shoulder level which can break two 1-inch thick pine boards in one strike.
- Developing my jumping strength and technique to perform a Flying Back Kick (also known as a running jump spin back kick) and break two 1-inch thick pine boards.
- Achievable – I can achieve this goal by attending regular training sessions and supplementing with physical training at my local gym.
- Realistic – Given my progression in my past four years of training, I am on track to achieve these objectives and meet the requirements of a black belt martial artist.
- Time-bound – I have until October 2018 when the test will be given to work towards this goal.
This process creates a clear goal, but doesn’t fulfill it for you.
Next, we’ll look at tactics for executing good goals
These can easily be considered as more specific information for S.M.A.R.T. goals.
- Block out time.
When are you going to do the work to accomplish your goal? Put it on your calendar, schedule out the time that you need to spend on your goal. What activities are going to have to be rescheduled or cancelled to make way for your goal? For my goal, I have time scheduled for working out and training six days per week.
- Build a habit.
For long-term goals, blocking out your time and spending that regular time on you goal should become a habit, to the point where putting in the work and time becomes a natural part of your everyday life.
- Be patient.
Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you don’t keep your commitment to your goal perfectly. As mortal people, we are not perfect. And making major life changes is hard. If your original plan for executing a goal isn’t working, revise and try again.
Making major changes in life requires good goal setting and the persistence to make those goals reality. These tips should help make the process of achieving goals a natural part of daily life. Now go and be golden!