In Part 1 of this post, I discussed the qualities of any well-defined SMART goal. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, please read it first by clicking here. In this post, I will share with you five strategies for achieving your SMART goals, no mater how big they may seem.
1) Believe you can do it.
As we learned in the first step of accelerated learning (Prepare your state), believing that you can and will be successful is an important ingredient for success. The same holds true for goal setting. If we set a goal that we don’t believe we can achieve, we’ve failed before we’ve even started. In the immortal words of Yoda:
Luke Skywalker: “I don’t believe it.” Yoda: “That is why you fail.”
Believing we can do it doesn’t mean that we won’t have occasional doubts. However, deep down inside, we have to believe that we are capable of accomplishing our goal. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that we’ll quit once the going gets tough.
2) Have an initial plan.
Once we have a well-defined SMART goal that we believe we can achieve, one of the first things we want to do is to make an initial plan. Even if we don’t know all of the steps to take, it’s important to start with something. In the wise words of Winston Churchill, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”
Here are four useful questions you can ask to help you develop an initial plan:
- What are the first few steps that I need to take?
- What do I need to research and learn in order to accomplish my goal?
- Who do I know that can help me and offer support?
- What can I do within the next 24 hours that will move me forward?
When planning for long-term goals, include smaller intermediate goals that can serve as milestones. Milestones are important because they give us a sense of progress and accomplishment as we work toward our long-term goal.
3) Post your goals where you can see them every day.
One of my biggest learnings after years of experimenting with goal setting is this:
Out of sight, out of mind.
Life can be hectic, and it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of our goals. An effective way to prevent this is to remind ourselves of our goals on a daily basis. One of my most successful goal-setting strategies has been posting my goals where I can see them every single day. This can be accomplished using post-it notes, index cards, or even daily text reminders. Personally, I like to make 8.5 by 11 inch print outs of my goals, with lots of color and inspiring images. I then frame my goals and hang one next to my computer monitor at home, one in my office at school, and one over my toilet (sorry – too much information). I see my goals every day – which keeps them in my daily awareness. It also reminds me to take one small action toward each of my goals every day, which is one of the most effective goal-setting strategies there is.
4) Take action every day.
Please take a moment, and think about a long-term goal that you have. Think about a goal that may take you a year or more to accomplish. Do you have one? Good, then I have two quick questions for you. Is this goal something that you are really committed to achieving? Are you willing to spend five minutes a day working toward achieving it? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then your goal is as good as done (woo hoo!).
Imagine if you spent at least five minutes every day working toward your goal. Every day you took one small step forward. After one year, you’ll have taken 365 actions toward accomplishing your goal. Think about how much progress you could make! Almost any goal can be achieved with consistent, daily effort. If you really want something, spending five minutes a day working toward getting it isn’t much to ask.
5) Get support from others.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started setting goals was trying to do everything myself. I had this false belief that asking for help or support meant I wasn’t able to do it myself. Because of this belief, I wasted a lot of time and energy struggling instead of using my available resources.
I now know that getting support and taking advantage of my available resources is one of the keys to achieving any goal. I have found two very effective ways of getting support:
First, find someone who has already accomplished what you want to achieve. Ask them what they did, how they did it, and if they have any advice for you. If someone can help you accomplish your goal in less time, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of their support. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.
A second way of getting support is to have an accountability partner. This is someone you check in with on a regular basis and who will hold you accountable. The check-in can be a quick text, phone call, email, or even a Facebook post. The simple fact that you are updating someone else with your progress, can often provide the extra bit of motivation necessary to follow through, especially when you don’t feel like it.
Once you have a SMART goal, you know your WHY, and you are willing to work for it, the last thing is to persevere and never give up! Sometimes the going gets tough … that’s alright. It’s part of the process. If something that you tried didn’t work, try something else. Now you know what doesn’t work and you have a valuable piece of information. If your goal is something that you really want, don’t let anything stop you. Success is there for those who are willing to work for it!
“Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence alone is omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge