This is the time of year for setting goals and making resolutions. It seems like everyone is talking about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, that is goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. But jumping right into setting smart goals is really putting the cart before the horse.
There are things you should do before you sit down to set your goals for the future.
· Relax. If you try to set goals after a stressful day, without taking time to relax first it’s doubtful you will be able to have the optimism or foresight to set goals that are relevant and attainable while still being challenging and growth-producing. Listen to some relaxing music, take a shower or bath, meditate, or do whatever relaxes you.
· Dream Huge. Don’t just think big, think huge! What if a lack of money couldn’t stand in your way? What if you were capable of any change you desired? Thinking small doesn’t serve you or anyone else. Perhaps you think your dreams are unrealistic, but more likely it is the timeline that is not realistic. All things are possible with time.
· Get the Big Picture. To avoid tunnel vision, try to set several goals that will benefit different areas of your life. By setting only career goals, or only relationship goals, you could be missing opportunities in other areas. One way to ensure your goals are balanced is to consider these eight life areas: financial, social, spiritual, occupational, physical, recreational, environmental and emotional. One way of assessing the balance in your life is a Life Balance Wheel exercise.
· Go Long. Don’t just focus on the next year. Consider who you want to be in five or ten years. These broad, long-term goals can always be broken down into smaller steps. This will help ensure your short-term goals are grounded in your longer-range plans. My favorite tool for getting an idea of my long-term goals is a Future Self Visualization.
· Dig Deep. Take the time to go beneath the surface of your goals. For example, if you want a new job, why? What needs and values lay beneath your goals? What do you want to be, experience and feel? How will meeting your goal improve your life? By going deeper into your desires, you will be able to set goals that are truly important to you.
Get your goal setting off on the right foot by preparing for this important task with the suggestions above. They’ll help put you in the right frame of mind.