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“Vision without action is a daydream.
Action without vision is a nightmare.”
~ Japanese proverb

It is impossible to become what you wish to become without a clear vision. Acting without a goal is like shooting without an aim. You might accidentally hit something, but if you want to hit high, you’ve got to aim high.

High self-worth and peace of mind come from goal congruence, from setting and accomplishing life goals that are consistent with your belief system. By setting a goal you are setting behavior of taking action toward its achievement. It’s the first step of materialization.

A well-formulated goal will anchor your mind to itself, it will keep dragging your attention to the importance of blocking out the time to work on yourself. Taking steps, be they small or substantial is critically important, lost momentum is hard to regain.

Here are some tips on how to set goals effectively.

Write your goals down.

“Unwritten goal is just a wish.”
~ Brian Tracy

A research performed by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California elucidates the science behind the goal setting.

267 volunteers — men and women from all over the world with a diverse background, including entrepreneurs, educators, healthcare professionals, artists, lawyers, bankers, and managers have participated in the experiment.

They were randomly assigned to five groups with specific tasks:

  • Group 1. Unwritten goal.
  • Group 2. Written goal.
  • Group 3. Written goal and action commitments.
  • Group 4. Written goal, action commitments to a Friend.
  • Group 5. Written goal, action commitments, and progress reports to a friend.

The participants pursued a variety of goals such as increasing income, increasing productivity, getting organized, enhancing performance, enhancing life balance, reducing work anxiety, and learning a new skill.

The results were very clear. Group 5 achieved significantly more than all other groups. Group 2, who simply put their goals on the paper outperformed Group 1 that didn’t have their goals written.

Dr. Matthews found that the mean achievement score of people who wrote down their goals was 42 % higher than of those who didn’t. Those who told their friends increased this rate to 78%. The research showed that people who were consistent and regularly wrote their dreams and goals achieved their dreams at a significantly higher level. This brings us to the first requirement for effective goal setting:

Write your goals down.
A written goal is 42% more likely to be achieved.

Write SMART goals.

We learned that writing your goals down increases the likelihood of achievement. Now it is time to work on quality. If you want your goal to be powerful it has to be SMART. This abbreviation stands for five criteria of intelligent goal setting — your goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Write Specific Goals.

Use writing as your visualization tool. Describe how you envision yourself hitting the milestones and realizing the end result with great precision. Include as many details as possible. If it’s a financial goal, state the exact number and the way you plan to achieve it. If it is a weight loss goal, state your exact weight and elaborate a training and diet regimen that will get you there. The more specific is your goal the more direction it provides.

Write Measurable Goals.

Imagine a roadmap for your goal. Label the major steps and milestones. What are the micro-goals embedded in your big goal? What metrics will you use to measure the actual progress? Make a progress tracking system — print a table with 100 boxes, post it on the wall, and checkboxes as you proceed. This method works great for implementing new habits. Incorporate an element of accountability — find a friend or a mentor who would monitor your commitment.

Write Attainable Goals.

Does the goal match your resources and skills? Are you physically capable of accomplishing it? Be honest with yourself and don’t set your bar too high. A goal impossible to achieve will demoralize you and erode your self-esteem. Your goals must be realistic yet challenging. An unimpressive but steady incremental progress is better than underperformance caused by an overwhelming unbearable challenge.

Write Relevant Goals.

Assess the goal itself. Is it compliant with your real needs and values? Is it congruent with your Strategy of Life? Does the end justify the means? Don’t fritter your time away by setting inconsistent goals.

Write Time-Bound Goals.

A deadline is a must. The sense of urgency will push you to execute in times when a temptation to procrastinate consumes you. The absence of a deadline makes you more tolerant to procrastination consequently decreasing your capacity to generate the desired momentum.

A SMART goal should be written in the present tense and it should be a positive statement i.e. should not contain negations. It must be tangible and have clarity.

Let’s take a look at a simple example. The goal: “I want to lose weight” can be rewritten as: “My body weight is __ kg by dd/mm/yyyy.

Elaborate a Course of Action. For example:

  • Lose __ kg every 30 days.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Workout for 60 min, 3 times per week.
  • Tracking table for 100 workouts.
  • Sending weekly reports to ____ (friend’s name).

Create daily To-Do lists. Use an old-school pocketbook or software, whatever fits you best. Strike-out what’s done. Do it, this is important. Closing your goals boosts dopamine.

Prioritize. Ask yourself: “If you could do only one thing today, what would it be?”. Use this question to tackle the top 3 tasks, avoid wasting time on trivialities.

Write, sign and submit a Commitment Declaration to someone you respect, to whom you would feel ashamed to admit that you have bailed out. Remind yourself to stay on track.

Set goals and demolish them. Don’t stop till it’s done.

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Thank you for reading my book “Meditations of the Millennial”.

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