Gurney's Inn
January 03, 2007

Money Matters

Setting Good Goals

It's that time of year again. Time to dust off the goals and resolutions we didn't get to last year. Time to lose those 10 extra holiday pounds, or give up that bad habit.

This year, don't let your goals and resolutions fall by the wayside. Chances are that to achieve your dreams and live a life you love, those goals and resolutions are crucial. Goal setting and goal achievement are easier if you follow these six steps for effective and successful goal setting and resolution accomplishment.

You need to deeply desire the goal or resolution. Napoleon Hill, in his landmark book Think and Grow Rich, had it right. "The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat." So your first step in goal setting and achieving your dreams is you've got to really, really want to achieve the goal.

Visualize yourself achieving the goal. Lee Iacocca said, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." What will your achievement feel like? How will your life unfold differently as a result? If the goal is a thing, some gurus of goal setting recommend you keep a picture of the item where you see and are reminded of it every day. If you can't picture yourself achieving the goal, chances are you won't.

Make a plan for the path you need to follow to accomplish the goal. Create action steps to follow. Identify a critical path. The critical path defines the key accomplishments along the way, the most important steps that must happen for the goal to become a reality. Stephen Covey said, "All things are created twice. There's a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you've thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind."

He's right.

Commit to achieving the goal by writing down the goal. Lee Iacocca said, "The discipline of writing something down is the first step toward making it happen." I agree completely.

Write down the plan, the action steps, the critical path and a timeline. Somehow, that produces results that might not have happened otherwise. In my own life, it's as if I'm making a deeper commitment to goal accomplishment. I can't fool myself later. The written objective really was my goal.

Establish times for checking your progress in your calendar system, whatever it is — a day planner, a PDA, a PDA phone or a handwritten list.

Then don't let your optimism keep you from accomplishing your goals. No matter how positively you're thinking if you're not making progress or feel stymied, you need to assess the situation. Adopt a pessimist's viewpoint; something may be, and probably is, going to go wrong. Take a look at all the factors that are keeping you from accomplishing your goal and develop a plan to overcome them.

Add that plan's steps to your calendar system as part of your goal achievement plan.

Review your overall progress regularly. Make sure you are making progress. If you're not making progress, hire a coach, tap into the support of loved ones, or (as above) analyze why your goal is not being met. Don't allow the goal to just fade away. Figure out what you need to do to accomplish it. Check the prior five steps, starting with an assessment of how deeply you actually want to achieve the goal. This six-step goal setting and achieving system seems simple, but it is the most powerful system you will ever find for achieving your goals and living your resolutions. You just need to do it.

Best wishes and good luck!

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