Have you ever taken a road trip without a map or clear directions? Maybe you want to take your wife to a fancy 5 Star Restaurant but you failed to set the reservations. This is what happens in our life if we desire something but we never set a written goal with specific action steps to get us from point A to Victory.
For years, I desire to write a book. The dream so realistic, I could taste it. However, I never put action steps in place to make it a reality. I would Flounder with the idea 4 months or years on end before writing the very first word. When the book was finally finished, I desired to write more and yet, it took 5 years to write another short book.
Why? Because I never set an action-oriented goal.
I recently received Michael Hyatt’s new book, Your Best Year Ever. This book is designed to help us create a five-step plan for achieving our most important goals. Seth Godin said about the book; “Generous goals work if you write them down, and powerful books work if you read them. Michael Hyatt has created a fun, fast way to find your dreams and then turn them into reality.”
Everybody has dreams, very few people put actions to those plans. When I finally made my action plan last year to write my newest book I did it. Why? Because I held myself accountable and I did not want to fail those plans.
I want to give you seven steps for creating an action plan this year to help you write more effectively and get the things done you want to see accomplished in 2018.
These seven steps come from Michael’s book and spell out the word SMARTER.
Goals need to be identified, and if we can put a face those goals they can be visualized. The purpose of smarter goals is to make sure that we create specific goals. If we’re not specific, and we don’t take the time to figure out how to be specific, will fail every time.
In 2017 I set the goal finish writing Purgatory Creek. I wanted to make sure the goal was very specific so I knew exactly what I was to accomplish. That is a very specific goal.
Michael Hyatt gives an example in his book; “If I was to say learn photography. Is that specific? No. In other words, what aspect of Photography do you want to learn? A better go would be, complete Lynda.com photography 101 courses. That’s specific.”
It’s one thing to have a goal now, the question you have to ask yourself, is it measurable? In other words, how do I know when I have accomplished the goal?
Take making money, for example, you want to make more money in 2018. The question you must wrestle with, how much more money? If you’re not specific with your goal setting, you won’t know when you have accomplished that goal. Maybe, your goal is, I want to make 10,000 more dollars this year. That is a realistic and measurable goal.
When you write your goal down, make sure you are objective so that you can measure yourself against the goal. Set an objective Target so you know when you reach certain markers or Milestones along the way.
Is easy with goal-setting to be passive. When we write our goals we tend to say something like, I want to be a better writer in 2018. That particular goal is not very actionable. You can’t measure it and you can’t take action to it.
But if you say I want to write 12 short stories, an outline my first book, that is very specific and very actionable. Why? Because writing 12 stories and an outline for your book will make you a better writer.
Michael Hyatt encourages the use of strong verbs when writing your goals. He says “be clear and directive about the action.” He also says this, “goals are fundamentally about what we’re going to do”, as a result, is essential to get “clear on the primary action when formulating your goals.”
Our fourth step of smarter goals is that they need to be a little bit risky. Most people think setting a goal should be realistic, and I agree, however setting a goal that’s a little bit out of our reach, that stretches us, will produce a better go.
We want to have some skin in the game. If we set the bar too low we’re not dreaming big enough. Risk will drive the results that you want to see. Edwin Locke says this, there is a linear relationship between the degree of gold difficulty and performance. He concluded, the performance of participants with the highest goals was over 250% higher than those with the easiest.
With a risky goal, you rise to the challenge but if we place a goal that’s too easy we lay back and we won’t finish the goals, why because they’re safe.
One of the biggest frustrations people have in setting New Year’s resolutions, is they don’t set a specific time when they went to see their resolution completed. This is why most people give up their New Year’s resolutions several weeks into the new year. They don’t plan ahead.
This year, I went back to a paper calendar and day planner. I can’t tell you how much more effective I have been since the New Year began. I’ve accomplished more, I’ve set goals for the future, and I can the tribute a specific day and time I want to see these goals accomplished.
When you set a time specific goal, you’re setting the bar for you to meet that challenge and rise to the expectation that you set for yourself. If you don’t set a time specific goal 2018 will come and go and you’ll set a new resolution because you feel like you failed the previous year. And the cycle continues without any change or momentum in your life.
I recommend setting no fewer than 5 but no more than 10 major goals you want to accomplish this year. But, set only two to three major deadlines to have each quarter. This way, you’re not trying to jam all of your goals into the month of December. You can spread out your focus and be more effective.
Don’t settle your goals for December 31st, doing so you’re only going to really effectively accomplish a couple goals. If you set quarterly goals, you will feel fulfilled and accomplished when the New Year arrives.
Face it, if you’re not excited about your goal, you will never accomplish your goal. Set an exciting goal. If the goal is not exciting in itself, set an exciting reward.
Alice Walton reported in the Chicago Booth review, “this is not how most people typically choose their goals they choose ones that they feel are important. Don’t use a New Year’s resolution you don’t enjoy doing you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Tap into your intrinsic motivation.”
If you don’t find your goals exciting or motivating you’re not going to have the motivation to push through when life grabs you by the horns. Ask yourself this question am I inspired and does my heart feel engaged in my goals? Are you willing to make it happen and are you willing to have fun along the way?
Michael Hyatt says “remember, we’re setting risky goals.” You’re going to feel tempted to quit at some point. Only an exciting goal can access the internal motivation you need to stay the course and achieve your goal.
This last point I believe is the most important. You want to choose goals that are going to be relevant to your life. Don’t choose a goal for the sake of choosing involved. Choose a goal that is going to help you feel fulfilled and accomplished when the New Year rings in.
You’re going to feel all kinds of pressure outside of yourself they’re going to push you to work against your goals. But remember The High Ground. Remember why you said that goal in the first place. Align your goals and set a to-do list.
I know, if you follow the action plan here, you’re going to have goals that you can feel proud of, excited about, and ready to tackle to take yourself to the next level.
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