Monday, March 3, 2008

Goal Setting Starts with Being Specific

Goal setting is important. No one will argue with that. However, there are many theories of how to set goals and how to work toward them.

A few weeks ago, I talked about New Year’s resolutions
, but these are more of a general guide to behavior or desired outcome than a specific plan to achieve results – as attested to by the quick demise of so many resolutions.

To me, the most important aspect of a goal is that it must be specific. Other wise it is more of an affirmation.

For instance, if you want to be able to run a mile (in whatever time – let’s start with the distance first) and you have trouble even visualizing yourself running more than a few yards, that’s OK.

Here, your goal is to run the mile. It has to be a specific distance. If you want to enter and complete a 3K or 5K run, the same thing applies. It will just take a little longer to get ready.

You can affirm all you want “I am now running a mile with ease and can even run farther.” This won’t get it done. If you never take that first step, it’s not going to happen.

So it looks like action is important in achieving goals. How can you run a mile if you can even get around the block? You might need some short-term intermediate goals to help you accomplish your larger goal.

Break up the task. If running a mile means that you have to run down to the corner first, then down to the corner and back, then 2 blocks, then 4 blocks, and then more until you work up to the mile, that’s OK. Accomplish your smaller objectives first.

Another critical step of achieving goals is that they have to be measurable so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them. In the above example, if your goal was just to “get in shape” or “jog a few blocks” how would know if you had done enough to consider your goal accomplished?

Then after you accomplish your goal of running a mile maybe you want to set a goal of how quickly you want to be able to run it.

One more thing about goals – they must be realistic. Sure you can stretch your abilities or find strength in areas where you didn’t know you had it, but you have to be sensible. It took years for anyone to be able to run a 4-minute mile, but running it in 3 minutes isn’t likely to happen no matter how hard anyone wants it to or how hard they train.

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