Princeton Capital Blog

Five Keys for Successful Goal Setting

January 2nd, 2013

3d illustration of clock withFive Keys for Successful Goal Setting

Maybe this is the year you repaint all of the rooms in your home.  Or maybe the year you finish the five projects that you’ve started over the last ten years.  Maybe this is the year you’re going to set up a garden for some fresh, organic vegetables.  Or the year you try to get your orange tree to produce good oranges instead of the bitter ones for the last few years.

Maybe you’re going to set up a business We have two prior posts that can help with that:

 

Thinking of Starting a Side Business?

Part 2: Thinking of Starting a Side Business?

Step One – Where You Goin’

The more clearly you can see where you want to end up, the faster you’ll get there.  Some people create vision boards where they cut out pictures of their goal achieved so they can see it every day, and feel great about their goal.  Others meditate for 15 minutes in the morning and evening about what their lives will be like when they achieve the goal.  The key is to get emotionally involved, and very detailed about what you want, how it will impact you, and how great it is now that you’ve achieved it.  Yes, your brain is only so good.  You need to think as though you’re already there.

Step Two – What Actions?

Vic Johnson often uses the example of running in the Boston Marathon.  There are some things you need to do every day, like running.  And there are things that you only need to do once, like fill out the application.  But if you don’t fill out the application, you won’t get to your goal of running in the Boston Marathon.

The key is to identify what has to be done in order to reach your goal.

Step Three – Schedule It

Sometimes, a task can be overwhelming.  Such as if you want to increase your earnings by $25,000 this year, pay off $15,000 of credit card debt, or if you want to lose 40 lbs.  But if you divide it by 12 months, the goal becomes more manageable.

Another example is if you want to increase your customers by five over the next ten weeks.  And if you get one customer for every seven referrals or twenty meetings or one hundred mailings, then you know how many you need to do (35 referrals over ten weeks is only about 3 or 4 per week).

The key is to feel that warm glow inside and say “I can do that!”

Step Four – Plan It

Successful people know what they need to do that day.  When you leave work, write down the five things you need to do the next day.  Or when you go to bed, write down on a list pad the top items you need to achieve tomorrow.  This works in a few different ways.  First, when you sleep, your brain starts problem solving, and when you wake up, you’ll have some ideas on how to get things done faster.  Secondly, if you reach a lull in your day where you’re just goofing around on Facebook or reading emails that aren’t moving you forward, you can pull out your list and remind yourself of what you need to do next.

David Allen also recommends keeping the next action associated with your task list.  For example, if you want to grow tomatoes, your next big action may be to contact your Master Gardener association and find out which ones grow best in your area, when you should plant or start from seeds, etc.  So the next step would be to find out how to contact your Master Gardeners.  Then, when you have a moment between meetings, you can sit down and google it.

The key is to always know what you could do next.

Step Five – Keep On Keeping On

This is the key of persistence.  We can be really good for a week or two, but it’s not always easy over the long haul.  That’s why goal achievement experts recommend smaller chunks with clear metrics.    Let’s say you want to pay off $12,000 of credit card debt over the next year.  Due to interest, it’s going to be more then $1000/month.  And let’s say you’re choosing to swap your large latte for a small latte, and put the difference towards paying down.

Yes, you’ll see the amount decrease each month on your statement, but it could get difficult on week three when you really want that large coffee because it’s cold and you want extra get up and go.  How to get around this?  Use a common fundraiser technique and create a thermometer or some other visual aid that you can fill in and see just how far you’ve gone.

Things to consider

Some people have difficulties with a year goal.  For them, the experts recommend setting a 90 or 100 day goal with a big reward when you hit it.

When you’re feeling weak, remind yourself of the goal and why you want to achieve it.

At first, focus on one major goal at a time.  If you want to increase your income and lose weight and repaint the house, you’ll probably fail at everything because you’re too scattered.  Once you’ve learned to flex that goal setting muscle, then you can start working on two things, and you’ll know how to focus completely on what you’re working on, and then let it go when you focus on the next thing.

And finally, give up that all or nothing mentality.  If you’ve been on a quest to lose weight and you go out for a bit special dinner, don’t get mad at yourself because you had the cheesecake!  Enjoy every last bite, and then get back on your plan the next day.  Plus, remember that it’s impossible to gain five pounds in a day.  It’s water bloat from the sodium, and if you drink water, do gentle movement, and enjoy your fruits, veg, and lean protein, you’ll see your weight continue to go down.

So what’s your big goal for January?

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