Without a smart plan, your dreams for the future will never materialize.
Goals give you direction in all areas of life—personal, professional, spiritual, familial, and financial. Setting targets can clarify your sense of purpose and put passion and drive into everything you do. Not having goals is similar to planning a cross-country trip without a map. You might get there, but you probably won’t take the most direct route, and you could waste a lot of time and energy finding your way.
Where do you begin?
The first step in setting goals is to dream big. There are no limits. Don’t get caught in the trap of setting goals that are too small. Ask yourself, “What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail?” “What would I want for my life if I knew I could have it?”
Allow yourself to dream like you did as a child. Let your imagination run wild. Make your goals inspirational. Aim for ambitions big enough to challenge yourself. If you don’t push beyond your current limits, you won’t achieve anything truly worthwhile. To reach your potential, you must constantly move outside your comfort zone.
Shoot for the bull’s-eye
Be precise in what you strive for. The more clearly defined your goals, the easier they are to attain. Ask yourself tough questions and as you answer them, your objectives will become more concrete.
Once you know the outcome you want, create an action plan to ensure your success. For example, setting a goal to buy or open a practice is not enough. To find a practice you’ll really be happy with, you have to specify what you want:
- Do you want a practice in the country or the city?
- How many square feet do you want?
- Do you want it to be located in a free-standing building, office tower, business park, or retail mall?
- What services do you want to provide for your patients?
As you vividly picture your future, your path to reaching it will emerge.
Goal setting is a skill; unfortunately, it’s not one that’s taught in most schools. Studies have shown that less than 3 percent of people actually write their goals down. This is the same 3 percent who accomplish more than all the others put together.
If you want to get better at setting and achieving your dreams, SMART is an acronym that can help you focus on reaching your objectives. SMART goals are:
Achievements demand focus. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general one. Your mind needs unambiguous targets to work effectively.
State exactly what you want to accomplish. You’ll attain what you focus on. Your mind is a magnet for attracting information, people, and opportunities that can help you.
Often, people set goals that are difficult to assess. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the accomplishment of each objective you set. When you evaluate your progress, the exhilaration of achievement spurs you on to reach the end. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- ?How will I know when it is accomplished?
When you identify your most important goals, you begin to figure out ways to make them come true. You can attain any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a timeframe that allows you to carry out those progressions.
Goals that may seem out of reach eventually move closer, not because they shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you write your goals down, you build your self-image.
To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A target can be both high and realistic. You are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be.
A lofty goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because smaller achievements exert a reduced motivational force. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. And that is your call. What’s realistic to you may not be to someone else.
Your objective has to be within the realm of your believability. If you can’t envision yourself doing it, you won’t.
A goal must have a target date for completion. If you desire to make a million dollars, but don’t set a timeline for it, it won’t be motivating. A deadline too far in the future is easily put off. A goal that’s set too close is not only unrealistic, it’s discouraging. A realistic timeframe allows you to continually monitor and evaluate your progress. Outlining an action plan is not enough. Notice what is working and what is not. If an approach is failing, don’t waste your time with it. Change your method.
Appreciate the journey
Enjoying the journey is key to a successful life. Little is gained when you only find contentment at the point of achieving a goal. Learn to happily achieve rather than achieve to be happy. The majority of your time is spent striving to attain your dreams—so welcome the process. Take the opportunity to review your goals every morning when you get up and every night before you go to bed. You will notice an increase in your energy level as you begin to live your life with passion.
Keep moving forward
Procrastination is the silent killer of goals. The only way to achieve is to take action. No matter how small an act may seem, it will ultimately have an effect on your life. Do something right now to go in the direction of your goals. Each step you take brings you closer to the life you want.
Mark Sanna, DC, ACRB Level II, FICC, is a member of the Chiropractic Summit, the ACA Governor’s Advisory Board, and a board member of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. He is the president and CEO of Breakthrough Coaching. He can be reached at 800-723-8423 or through mybreakthrough.com.