Don’t let another dream slip away.
Today I want to share my Free goal Setting worksheet I use based of a system called S.M.A.R.T. GOALS. It not only helps me achieve my goals but it helps me achieve them faster and virtually puts them on autopilot.
But first, let me share my personal story of how I struggled to achieve my own goals.
GOALS and Aspirations
I only know of 2 ways to accomplish them.
So that’s what I’ll talk about.
- The Write it down method: Many people try this method but fail.
- The Just do it method: Pick goals as they arise and just do it (most people use this method to accomplish daily goals, small, short or long term goals and even big goals. (success does vary.New years resolution might be a good example of this method. “I’m gonna lose 20 pound this year” ).
JUST DO IT METHOD TO ACCOMPLISHING GOALS!
I admit, for the longest time, I only used the “JUST DO IT” method ( no affiliation to Nike) and still do for a lot of things. It’s a simple, powerful method and it can be effective. It’s worked well for many of my bigger goals and one off goals too.
However, it doesn’t do so well when you want to have an EPIC LIFE. ( I never use this word epic but thought you could relate). Well Epic can mean many things. For me at the moment, it means reaching my maximum potential by accomplishing many goals and dreams in a specific amount of time. Not someday, not one day. NOW.
Lots of goals means juggling them all at once. Easier said than done.
Today I still use the “Just do it” methodology when appropriate but lately I’ve been a convert. Now I use a new system which, yes requires me to write down my goals. But it’s a structured system that virtually puts my goals on autopilot. I’ve definitely seen a huge difference in the success rate and amount of goals I’ve accomplished. This makes me feel more fulfilled and balanced.
Let me share with you a story which many of you will be able to relate too. It explains how I became a convert because frankly, I thought writing down goals didn’t work. I thought it was a waste of time and effort.
Writing your goals down is a waste of time if you don’t do it right! More on that later.
Setting Goals: In Survival Mode
After I divorced my first husband, I was left with 2 little boys to raise on my own with no child support, no help, nothing.
Raising kids in a 2 parent home is hard but raising kids as a single working parent is infinitely harder. Especially when you are struggling financially and maybe even emotionally.
I WAS IN SURVIVAL MODE
I didn’t have the luxury to think of anything but the bare essentials. This meant juggling work, career, the boys day care schedules, cooking, cleaning etc. Don’t forget the added stress of bills, lack of a social life and making sure my growing boys received enough play time and happy memories. I was constantly on GO GO GO GO !
It was a stressful time in my life and I lost a lot of weight. Almost to the point where I was a little unhealthy.
Photo above, I dropped to 115 pounds at 5 feet 8 inches.
Psychology Of Basic Needs
According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it was only natural for me to want and focus most of my motivation around money, safety and my boys. I was focusing on my NEED FOR SAFETY
Maslow’s theory suggests that we have 5 levels of needs. The lowest being Physiological, then SAFETY, Love, Esteem and finally Self-actualization.
Only when the most basic level of needs are met will the individual strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the higher level of needs.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs
I was at the “SAFETY LEVEL”, just one level up from the most basic need which was physiological: breathing, food, water etc. This explains a lot.
I didn’t know it at the time but I was about to put some goals in place that would get me higher up the pyramid.
GOAL: Satisfy Your Basic Need for Safety
Different people go about satisfying their primal need for safety in different ways; sugar-daddy’s, stealing, the lottery, second jobs, more education etc. My plan to satisfy this need was simple.
GOAL #1: Just stick with my current job, work hard and accumulate experience. No real action required except to do what I was already doing. I was lucky that I already had a great job working as a foreign exchange hedging analyst. I knew that after the dust settled from my divorce things would get better WHICH THEY DID.
It wasn’t long until I was actually saving money, socializing and I even relaxed. But just a little because I still wasn’t at the point I wanted to be financially. I was still on a tight budget, and wanted to be just a little bit more secure. Which lead me to my second goal.
GOAL #2: Change Careers and Industries then climb the corporate ladder in that new industry. I had a great job but it DID not ignite a passion in me which made my job extremely hard to do. I had a choice………………..
1- Climb the corporate ladder in my industry of Corporate Finance. OR………………
2- Change careers and industries to work in the field I’ve always wanted to work in. In other words find my dream job and climb the ladder in that industry.
Naturally, I chose #2, to change industries to find my dream job. But it wasn’t easy.
Career Change: Goal Setting “THE “JUST DO IT” Method:
I instinctively used the “Just Do It” method to flesh out the broad strokes of my plan in my head.
Since I wanted a job working for a web related company in the area of analytics, I devised a simple but effective plan and started acting on it RIGHT AWAY!
Little by little, i started chipping away at the goal. Every night, after the boys were tucked in bed, I tip toed to my computer and devoured information veraciously. My plan was to teach myself everything I could about web analytics, search engine and keyword optimization, HTML, banner ad, click through rates, bounce rates, sales funnels the works. I also started selling things on eBay which let me apply my learning to a real world situation. (this would prove to be a very smart and strategic move later on. The eBay side hustle started out as a fun side business but grew to the point where i was sourcing things from overseas to resell. I was even selling things for neighbors and put ads on Craigslist to sell things for other people. (Many people now do this).
THE BEGINNING OF AUTOMATION: Creating New Habits
Like an overzealous churchgoer, I did this routine rain or shine without pause for what seemed like an eternity but in reality was probably around 12 months.
Then something amazing happened. It became easier. I was getting really good, learning a lot AND making some side money by selling on eBay. Before I knew it, studying nightly and selling things on eBay became a ritual that was as easy as breathing.
Between the kids, work, studying and my eBay biz, I felt like an overstretched rubber band ready to snap. I made a strategic decision to quit my job to take a career break and focus on my eBay business. Not because I was making loads of money but because I saw it as a valuable tool to give me the experience I needed to break into the web industry.
After a year of working on my Ebay business, I thought I had accumulated enough experience to look for a job in a company using my self taught skills and eBay skills. I put up a super cheesy add on Craigslist as an experiment.
“ Rock star eBay Seller Ready To Rock Your Sales Off”
Above photo not real add, for dramatization purposes only.
I can’t remember what the actual ad said, I just know it was over the top..
BOOM! Within a week, I got a call from a start up company in Silicon Valley called Auctiondrop and they hired me. It was the catalyst that helped me not only change my career but eventually led me to a new position where my salary increased beyond my actual goals.
Bigger Salary—> comfort safety—> check
New Job working for a web related company –> check
DIVERSIFY YOUR GOALS: Or you’ll be sorry
There’s just no pleasing me. I should have been content. Instead I felt unfulfilled because of one simple thing.
I didn’t diversify my goals.
I PUT ALL MY ENERGY AND FOCUS ON ONE GOAL: MY CAREER.I always meant too diversify and do more things outside work but never got around to it. This caused a severe bout of regret. Not diversifying your life goals also left me with some negative effects.
- WORKAHOLIC: Ironically, I did such a great job of putting my goal on autopilot that it’s all I seemed to think about. I was turning into a workaholic with no life.
- My life was unbalanced And that made me unhappy: I had safety but at the cost of my other hopes, dreams and desires. Now my life was all about work and my next salary increase.
- BURN OUT: All work and no play. My life was unsustainable and eventually I got burned out.
Why the long story?
There are 3 things I want to point out in this story.
FIRST: The ingredients:
5 things helped me achieve my goals. I might go so far as to say that one can’t exist without the others. They are….
1-DESIRE – 2-WILLPOWER – 3-A SYSTEM –4-STRUCTURE –>5-AUTOMATION.
Desire and willpower got me going but those only got me so far. it was the system, the plan that kept me on track when my willpower gave out and i was tired from lack of sleep and ready to give up. It was a simple plan but a plan nonetheless. Without it i might have just gave up. Structure was how i modeled my system, in my case it was through self education and giving myself experience. And finally, repetition over a period of time created automation and new habits After a while it didn’t even feel like work. Remember when I said studying every night just became my ritual as easy as breathing?
SECOND: Balance or unbalance:
Set goals throughout the different areas of your life. Not just work and money and not just at New Years. Otherwise you may end up feeling unfulfilled and unbalanced.
THIRD: You need a plan for your big dreams
The most important lesson I learned is sometimes you have to create your own opportunities. It’s hard work but it helps to have a plan in place to help.
As of late i’ve adopted a new methodology. The “JUST DO IT” method has served me well but as I said earlier, this has to be an Epic life going forward. Which brings me to the second chapter of my life. Where i am today.
Almost done, hang in there. We’re getting to the goal settign strategy soon
FIND YOUR SWEET-SPOT IN WORK AND LIFE
The good news is, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve since remarried and have a third child. If you read my last article, than you know that I’m once again in the hot seat and in a sense in survival mode.
Except this time I’m living out a lifelong dream and living in France with my husband and three kids. While we’re here, I want to do EPIC things (I don’t like that word epic but you get what i mean).
I am rebuilding a sustainable life around all my passions. I’m finding my sweet spot in work again and this blog has a lot to do with that . The kids are getting an education of a lifetime living here in France. I have a whole page full of goals I’m working on, there’s just too many things to list.
There’s one thing, doing EPIC stuff requires some planning and organization. So I’ve been using a plan to organize all my goals.
It’s a simple system that will take you 10 minutes to learn. It’s working for me and I want to share it with you. This is saying a lot coming from someone who once though writing out our goals was a waste of time. This plan is NOT for everyone but I think it’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time to read and then another 10 minutes to try it out. It helps me stay focused, motivated and accomplish more of my goals. Plus it helps me automate my tasks making them habits. I find this last thing to be extremely important because once it’s a habit your mind just gets used to the idea of things and that’s when you go on autopilot.
What makes This system so special?
There’s nothing special about this system. In fact, it’s not even my system. It’s a compilation of a lot of research on my part.
Why research? I didn’t want to re-create the wheel so i set out on a mission to study what was already out there on this topic. I wanted to learn as much as I could about highly effective people and how they
1- Set goals that stick= To Accomplish Great Things
I also wanted to know……
2- The reason why so many people fail at accomplishing their goals and dreams. Myself included.
2 Things Stood Out The Most In My Research
Amidst all the noise and all the information, I found horrible advice, fringe advice, weird advice, advice that was too complicated or too simple. But smack dab in the middle there was a general consensus on what most people were saying about goals and goal setting.
- You need to make a plan for you goals (YEAH No Duh But How?)
- People sabotage their own goal setting efforts by doing / not doing certain things.( ooh interesting!)
Then I took everything I found and tailored it to fit my needs and I structured a goal setting system to combat 8 of the main reasons people keep sabotaging themselves from achieving their goals.
FINALLY- HERE’S THE SYSTEM
–> Write S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R. Goals
S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R., is a mnemonic acronym. Each letter represents one of the main mistakes most people do to sabotage their goals.
Maybe you have heard of this already because I did not invent it. I just tailored it to make sure that it combatted the main reasons why I might fail at accomplishing my goals. You can do the same too. If you want to learn more about it just click here wikipedia.com.
Here is a table showing what each letter stands for and what mistake it solves.
|ACTION||SOLVES THIS MISTAKE|
||1- Write Specific Detailed Goals||1- Goals Are Too Vague|
|Measurable||2- Goals should me measure-able||2- You Don’t know when goals is achieved|
|Actionable||3- Should be actionable||3- No action to complete|
|Accountable||4- Tell Someone||4- Not accountable = No pressure|
|Recordable||5- Keep track||5- You don’t build momentum, get discouraged|
|Time Base||6- State time frames||6- No time limit, No sense of urgency|
||7- evaluate & revise as needed||7- Stick to goals w/out revising them as needed|
|Reward||8- Reward yourself||8- Don’t motivate self, lose momentum, give up|
S. M. A. A. R. T. E. R. GOALS EXPLAINED
Below, you can read over the 8 explanations for each letter. If you understand why these 8 reasons are preventing most people from accomplishing their goals than you’ll have a better chance at avoiding these mistakes.
When you are done, if you want to give it a try, just scroll to the end to download the goal setting worksheet I created and give it go one goal at a time.
—- S = SPECIFIC —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake #1: Goal is too vague or general.
One of the biggest reasons people tend to fail at achieving their goals is because they create goals that are waaaay too general or vague.
You must write a very descriptive goal like painting a mental picture including all the actions, time frame and anything else relevant.
EXAMPLE: Don’t just say:
“I want to lose 20 pounds” That sounds like a dream with no legs” like “wish I could fly”
YES: Do say:
” I will fit into a size 5 dress by losing 20 pounds by June. I’ll accomplish this by doing the following things:X,Y, Z.
HOW TO AVOID SETTING VAGUE GOALS:
Write your goals down. When you write out your goals using the S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R. method, you are in a way visualizing your goal and creating a mental picture or list. Not just some vague passing fancy. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!
TIPS FOR WRITING YOUR GOALS.
- Write goal in the positive-What you really want is to look thinner and fit in a size 5 dress not just lose 20 pounds.
- Try answering what, why, where, when, how, who, which. You don’t have to answer all of these for each goal. It’s just a guide.
- Lastly, Now make sure your goals also conform to the 7 THINGS BELOW.
—- M= Measurable —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake # 2: Goal is not measurable.
If your goal is not measurable, how will you know when it’s completed? How will you stay on track?
For some goals like weight loss, this will be easy.
What if a goal is less tangible like “BE A BETTER PERSON”? You can’t measure that but you can measure the actions behind what you deem to make you a better person.
For example: “I will be a better person by volunteering 3 times a year at the homeless shelter, take my kids out to the movies once a month and say hello to the postman every time I see him.” Do all that and you are golden.
—- A= Actionable —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake #3: You don’t give yourself actions or steps to take towards your goal.
Using my weight loss example, If you just say, “I want to lose weight”, not only is it vague and written in the negative, there are no actionable steps assigned to it. Nothing to track. No direction for you to start on your path. Just a vague wish to complete one day.HO HUM!
If you say ” I will fit into a size 5 dress by losing 20 pounds by June. I’ll accomplish this by doing the following things:X,Y, Z.
The X, Y, Z are the three actions you will do. Try to include at least 3 whenever possible.
—- A= Accountable —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake # 4: You Don’t make yourself accountable
Making yourself accountable is crucial to creating pressure on yourself to complete a goal.
Remember when you were a kid? You were more likely to do your chores if your mom was pressuring to do it. That’s a form of accountability.
HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE:
- Tell a few people about your goals.- No one wants to look bad. Try telling a select few people who will help keep you accountable. Tell someone who is going to kick your ass into action. Go read what Derek Sivers said about this here. Very interesting.
- Join A Group: Mutual accountability is extremely effective. I have first hand knowledge of this with a master mind group I belong too.. Believe me it really works. Other examples of groups are Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous. Look for one online.
- Make a bet: The competition may be just be what you need to keep you accountable and motivated.
—- R= RECORDABLE —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake # 5: You don’t record or track your progress
If goal is measurable, it should be recordable. This is an important step in the goal process because It gives your mind something to work toward.
There’s just something psychologically motivating about seeing a bunch of X’s on the calendar indicating that you are one step closer to your goal.
HOW TO RECORD AND TRACK YOUR GOALS
Here are six free web apps.
If you want a more comprehensive system, I’ve been looking into something called Goals On Track. It’s supposed to help you organize and track goals for all aspect of your life from family and financial, to weight loss and kicking your smoking habit. It’s got chart, bells and whistles. It’s not free. The last time I checked, it cost around $5.00 a month but there is a money back guarantee.
Here are 6 simple way to track your goals.
- Simple chart- Graph or Goal chart
- Write or make an X in the squares of a calendar .
- Keep a journal- example is a food journal.
- Use a TO DO LIST
- Pen and paper
—- T= TIME BASED —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake # 6: Your goal is not time based.
When will you start, how often will you do it. When will it be complete? These are all things you need to answer otherwise you may just never start. But there’s another added bonus.Sense of urgency.
Tick tock, tick tock. Giving yourself a limited amount of time not only tells you when to stop and start, it gives you a sense of urgency. Like studying for an exam at the last minute because you have to take the test in 2 hours eeeeeeeeek
photo via Undone clothing at etsy
HOW TO MAKE YOUR GOAL TIME BASED:
- Simply make a start and stop date
- Create a schedule: Don’t just say “Join the gym”. Instead say: Join a gym by June and go 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday”
TIP*Track your goals longer to make them into lifelong habits.
If you are trying to make something a habit or automatic, make your goal timeline long enough so that it sticks. According to the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Research Centre, it takes roughly 66 days to create new habits. If you create a goal that involves losing weight and you want to also eat healthier long term, you should track your goal for at least 66 days. That action, in this case, of eating well, has a better chance of becoming a new habit. Hmmm that’s a long time but worth it I think.
—- E= EVALUATE —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake # 7: You don’t stop to evaluate and revise.
If your goal is not working out what will you do? Keep going? That’s not going to work, you’ll probably give up.
If you go to the gym 3 times a week and you’re not losing weight than adjust your goals. Go 4 times, eat more fruit, do whatever. Just adjust it so that you can stay motivated to continue.
Tip* Set a scheduled time to evaluate. weekly? Monthly?
photo via Elle moss at Etsy
—- R= REWARD —-
Self Sabotaging Mistake # 8: Your goal does not include a reward.
Rewarding yourself is the best part of your goal. Studies show that by giving yourself small rewards, you will keep yourself more motivated pushing you closer to completing your goal.
IDEAS ON HOW TO REWARD YOURSELF:
When you create your goal chart to track your goals, decide when you will reward yourself. Every week, every 5 pounds you lose, every 100 dollars you save. Just decide up front what it is. Choose something meaningful.
That’s the S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R method.
How To tailor this system to you
There are a lot more obstacles that i could have put on the list but these were the main ones that MOST people struggle with and most don’t even know it. Recognizing those obstacles and putting them in your goal plan is the key.
Below are some example of things that might be your obstacle to setting effective goals.
Examples: Of other obstacles you might need to include in your goal making strategy.
- you’re complacent- I wrote about this in my last article 6 ways to kill complacency & how it helps me stick to my goals while in France
- You don’t use your best work and rest cycles effectively: Don’t go to the gym at night if you have better workouts in the morning.Put it in your plan.
- You’re Disorganized:
- Distracted/ Busy / Sidetracked: Don’t pick a time to write your novel if the kids are whining. Adjust your schedule to make time for your goals. Reschedule your goal if you have to.
Now it’s time to create your S.M.A.A.R.T.E.R goals.
Tips: Here are some tips you should consider when you write out your goals.
- Don’t get overwhelmed: Start small- Write a list of as many as you want but whittle it down to five or less and start taking action right away.
- Be realistic with your time and goals
- Break down bigger goals into smaller steps. I have a goal for business that is a small paragraph but a separate goals and task workbook for all of the different areas. Marketing, writing, researching etc.
- Post your goals somewhere you can see them clearly. Mine are on the wall in front of my desk on a clipboard.
- Continue to add new goals as you think of them. Do not just do them on new years.
- Give your goals some wiggle room. Room to cheat. It’s better to cheat a little bit and continue on rather than stick to your goal and get discouraged and give up.
- To make your life more balanced, try to work on goals from all aspects of your life. Don’t make all your goals about work. There’s relationship, kids, garden, house, work, chores etc.
READY –>GO SET –> GOALS
Download the SMAARTER GOALS WORKSHEET HERE
It does come with a detailed description of the 8 most common mistakes people make.
The actual worksheet is on the last page.
Good Luck, if you have any suggestion or tips that have worked for you, than share them in the comments area below. If you try the worksheet, I would be interested to know what you think. I won’t be hurt. Not all systems work for everyone. I only tried this system myself as an experiment and was surprised that it worked. Guess it pays to be adventurous and try new things HUH?