Directly copied from http://www.mindtools.com/page6.html Nov 11, 2013
Staying on Course
Once you\’ve decided on your first set of goals, keep the process going by reviewing and updating your To-Do List on a daily basis.
Periodically review the longer term plans, and modify them to reflect your changing priorities and experience. (A good way of doing this is to schedule regular, repeating reviews using a computer-based diary.)
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we\’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:
S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).
For example, instead of having \”to sail around the world\” as a goal, it\’s more powerful to say \”To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2015.\” Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand!
Further Goal Setting Tips
The following broad guidelines will help you to set effective, achievable goals:
State each goal as a positive statement – Express your goals positively – \”Execute this technique well\” is a much better goal than \”Don\’t make this stupid mistake.\”
Be precise: Set precise goals, putting in dates, times and amounts so that you can measure achievement. If you do this, you\’ll know exactly when you have achieved the goal, and can take complete satisfaction from having achieved it.
Set priorities – When you have several goals, give each a priority. This helps you to avoid feeling overwhelmed by having too many goals, and helps to direct your attention to the most important ones.
Write goals down – This crystallizes them and gives them more force.
Keep operational goals small – Keep the low-level goals that you\’re working towards small and achievable. If a goal is too large, then it can seem that you are not making progress towards it. Keeping goals small and incremental gives more opportunities for reward.
Set performance goals, not outcome goals – You should take care to set goals over which you have as much control as possible. It can be quite dispiriting to fail to achieve a personal goal for reasons beyond your control!
In business, these reasons could be bad business environments or unexpected effects of government policy. In sport, they could include poor judging, bad weather, injury, or just plain bad luck.
If you base your goals on personal performance, then you can keep control over the achievement of your goals, and draw satisfaction from them.
Set realistic goals – It\’s important to set goals that you can achieve. All sorts of people (for example, employers, parents, media, or society) can set unrealistic goals for you. They will often do this in ignorance of your own desires and ambitions.
It\’s also possible to set goals that are too difficult because you might not appreciate either the obstacles in the way, or understand quite how much skill you need to develop to achieve a particular level of performance.
When you\’ve achieved a goal, take the time to enjoy the satisfaction of having done so. Absorb the implications of the goal achievement, and observe the progress that you\’ve made towards other goals.
If the goal was a significant one, reward yourself appropriately. All of this helps you build the self-confidence you deserve.
With the experience of having achieved this goal, review the rest of your goal plans:
If you achieved the goal too easily, make your next goal harder.
If the goal took a dispiriting length of time to achieve, make the next goal a little easier.
If you learned something that would lead you to change other goals, do so.
If you noticed a deficit in your skills despite achieving the goal, decide whether to set goals to fix this.
Our article, Golden Rules of Goal Setting , will show you how to set yourself up for success when it comes to your goals. If you\’re still having trouble, you might also want to try Backward Goal Setting .
It\’s important to remember that failing to meet goals does not matter much, just as long as you learn from the experience.
Feed lessons learned back into your goal setting. Remember too that your goals will change as time goes on. Adjust them regularly to reflect growth in your knowledge and experience, and if goals do not hold any attraction any longer, consider letting them go.