This Article was originally published at DapperYankee.com
New Year resolutions have been popular for years. I’ll hear, “What resolutions did you make?” from well-intentioned people. My standard reply is, “I make resolutions daily, and so should you. Let me know if you would like to learn more.”
I do not intend to sound cocky or abrasive with this, I am simply telling the truth. I have learned, thanks to years of experience and some amazing mentors (the bold text is there for a reason), that my output or production for business AND life is dependent on my goals AND what I do to reach those.
Yes, this sounds super simplistic, but it is still a simple process that eludes most of our population in the United States (and beyond).
Everybody Does It
Sticking to the transparency here: Be honest with yourself right now and think back to personal or even work projects which you may have undertaken.
- “Before Summer, I am going to clean out the leaves from my gutters.”
- “I’m going to write a book someday soon.” (What is the exact date of “soon”?)
- “We will have the production completed and marketing plan written for XYZ product next month.”
Each of these can be broken down into a project. For now, let’s not look at them as projects, but what they really all start our as: “Dreams”.
Dreams are pretty much goals without clear deadlines or dates. We all have dreams. We all have grand designs to do things, see things, and more. The Quote “Goals are Dreams with a Deadline” is attributed to Napoleon Hill. The great motivator and teacher, Zig Ziglar is sometimes attributed to the quote. I suspect he did use it a few times (or many) as he was phenomenal with helping people reach to and achieve their goals.
Before I go to far down the “Dreams becoming Goals” path, I want to make sure we stick to the main point here: You can make resolutions at any time. In fact, you should resolve to change old habits and take steps to make things happen. This is where understanding goals comes into play.
Having a clear set of goals daily helps you to react BETTER to changes of plans. It helps you realize far more of your potential than ever before. Plus, it makes people wonder what your secret is as you climb the ladder of success with less difficulty than many of your peers.
“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”
Over the years, I have attended Project Management training, Goal Setting Classes, Time Management seminars and more than I can recall. Of all the classes and methods I have learned, the most impactful was the Ziglar method of Goal-Setting. I will summarize the steps for your use, but to get deeper value out of it, I invite you to contact a Ziglar Legacy Certified Trainer or Coach to help you get the right traction to accomplish more.
The Ziglar method uses 8 Steps to help define and achieve goals. I still advocate using the 8-step process for many. It is possible to simplify your goal processing with one-step less, but it requires you to be diligent with each step.
Step 1: Build your List of Dreams
We all have life dreams. Owning a Beach House in Bora Bora. Walking on the Moon. Running with the Bulls in Spain. Any of these or all could be on your list. This is great. Go crazy on this step and let your creative juices flow. Nothing is out of bounds at this point.
Print your dreams (by hand, typing is a short cut for some people but printing is more deliberate and it uses more of your brain in the process).
Make the list long or short – it’s all up to your own imagination (note I used the word imagination and not smarts or brains or logic). This list is the starting point for big things in your life so get rocking on making this list.
When you have finished the list, go ahead and reward yourself. Take the day off (from writing about your goals).
“You gotta ‘be’ before you can ‘do,’ and you gotta ‘do’ before you can have.”
Step 2: Determine the WHY?
For each item on your Dream List, think carefully about that item only and ask yourself “Why?”
For some items, your “Be, Do, or Have” (see above quote) don’t line up with the Why. In these instances, your dream is spotlighted as only a dream and not a goal. In case you are thinking, “Oh, but it would SOOO COOL to…” now is the time to apply reality to the list. Cross off the items that will remain in the dream category. You will need to concentrate now on making your goals stand out.
Step 3: Question Yourself to determine strength of Goals
In the Ziglar training, one will learn five key questions which really help you to analyze your list of pending goals. The goal here is to eliminate goals which are not really YOUR goals. When asking yourself each question (5 total questions) for EACH goal you have on your list, be completely honest with yourself.
Honesty at this point is very important. After all, when you have your list of goals, YOU must own them. This means you care about the goal AND the outcome. Here are the questions:
- Is it really my goal? (If you’re a minor living at home, an employee, or a team member, some of your goals will be set by the coach, director, parent or employer.)
- Is it morally right and fair to everyone concerned?
- Is it consistent with my other goals?
- Can I emotionally commit myself to finish this goal?
- Can I “see” myself reaching this goal?
When answering the questions, many people will try to resolve the answers to fit with other people and their desires. This is a mistake. Only do this if the goals you are planning include other people in the action steps. You will also end up crossing items from your list as you find the “No” answers appearing.
Step 4: Question Yourself to determine strength of Goals
Some of your dreams have survived on the list. They now get another layer of scrutiny which is important to help you determine how you will impact both yourself, your family, and others. You should not confuse pleasure with happiness.
- Will reaching this goal make me happier?
- Will reaching this goal make me healthier?
- Will reaching this goal make me more prosperous?
- Will reaching this goal win me more friends?
- Will reaching this goal give me peace of mind?
- Will reaching this goal make me more secure?
- Will reaching this goal improve my relationships with others?
As you review this list, some answers will be No and some will be Yes. If your response is a Yes for any question, it can remain on the list.
As you have now reduced your overall Dreams list to a smaller, more manageable list of goals, we get into more detail. Divide the remaining goals into three categories: Shortrange (1 month or less); Intermediate (1 month to 1 year); and Long-range (1 year or more).
As you review the list of goals, you can shortcut the notation of each with SR, INT, and LR based upon the status you provided.
After you have marked your list, you may consider counting each by status. If you have a balance of SR, INT, and LR goals, then your overall perspective is balanced. You do not want to have a list dominated by one status, such as LR.
An unbalanced group of goals is not uncommon for people starting on goal setting. Some will have an list which is very heavy on Long Range goals which are great, but it can keep you from experiencing a balance in your “wins” early as you achieve SR goals.
The balance also allows you to set some dreams “just out of reach”. This should motivate you to move beyond your comfort zone as you build the skills and complete the tasks needed to reach a far-off goal.
I have found that setting a small group of frequent goals also helps. Each can be a daily or weekly goal which can help contribute to an INT or a LR goal.
It is better to make the goals very clear and concise. For example, “Get a new car” may seem like a goal, but it is very ambiguous. What kind of car? How much will the car cost? What brand/make to YOU see in your mind? In all cases, visualize what the goal is and make your written goal more specific.
“A red 4-door sedan from Europe with heated leather seats and a great stereo under $35k” is more specific and it’s far easier to visualize than just any “new car”.
Step 6: Create your Target List
When I was starting out using this methodology, I was advised to use a collection of short-term goals initially. This does help you achieve a small set of goals quicker which can help bolster your goal-achieving attitude so you can embrace bigger, longer-range goals with relative ease. I call it “goal-achieving muscle memory”.
When you are accustomed to achieving your goals, you EXPECT more of your goals to be achieved. This builds a better habit to set goals AND reach them.
An ideal mix for many is to choose two to three short-range (SR) goals and place them on a list with one INT. Add a LR goal only after you’ve practiced with readily achievable goals. However, LR goals can be viewed as nearly the same as SR goals, but they have more moving parts (over time, more tasks to accomplish).
Step 7: Define the Action Items for your Goals List
Look at each goal you have established (again, start with no more than 4 goals until you build a habit) and take the time to break each goal down in to actionable steps. With each step, determine what resources are needed. What education is needed for each? What smaller purchases (such as equipment or part or tools) are needed for you to have the components you need for success? Who will help with achieving each goal? What are the required actions? Most importantly, what are your metrics for success?
When you defined the range for the goals, you may not have set dates for your goals. Now is the time to ensure that you do have a clear image of WHEN things should be done. If you know that your goal is to lose 10 pounds, it’s not a challenge and it gives you a lot of free time in the future to achieve it. However, if you set the goal as a more specific one (“I will lose 10 pounds by March 1 by cutting back on grains and sugars and taking 2-mile walks daily with my family”).
Knowing what the result should look like is key to forming the goal from the beginning. The visualization process mentioned before comes into play here. When you visualize the end state, you can keep the image in your mind and are able to describe what components are needed for success.
At this point, you should have an action plan to address each of your goals. If you are confident with your goal-achieving skills, continue adding goals to your Goals List. Each goal needs to have its tasks, resources, timeframe, and other components before it is considered ready. If you embrace too many at once, you are more likely to fail to accomplish some of the goals. The expression “don’t bite off more than you can chew” comes to mind.
Some variation of this goal-setting and achieving process is used by thousands of people daily. You can find these various processes throughout the biographies of successful people.
Right now, you can make your success happen. Resolutions are excuses to set up ideals which you likely will not work to achieve.
Setting goals and working through each are more likely to help you achieve the success you seek.