When Helen Keller was asked if there was anything worse than being blind, she answered, “Yes, being able to see, and having no vision.”
To create an environment where you are working toward goals, you need to develop your vision, how you see yourself in the future, both in the short-term and the long-term. Think about who you want to become, in all the different aspects of your life: work, family, spiritual, fitness, romance, and so on.
Next, you must make sure that each goal is actionable. I like to use the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely) acronym for developing goals because SMART goals have built-in characteristics that will make achieving them possible and rewarding.
If you’ve never used a SMART goals system before, here are some simple steps to get you started.
Step 1: Commit
You need to decide that you want to live a life of purpose. Establish goals that you want to achieve. You need to be able to say, “I’m committed to achieving these goals. I’m going to do it.”
Step 2: Understand
Understand why it is important to have goals. If you are going to make a change, you have to understand why it is important to you. I want to have goals because I want to know where I’m going, I want to get there, live my life with purpose, do something every day that’s moving me toward the bigger picture, toward who I want to become.
Step 3: Create Goals
Set time aside to create your SMART goals. Identify others that you can work with, preferably those who can support you, hold you accountable, and whose lives your goals affect.
Step 4: Break Down into Tasks
The path to achieving a goal is often a series of tasks and activities tied to that goal. Even when a goal is attainable, it might be too large or complex to accomplish with a single effort. By breaking goals down into tasks, you are making choices in your day that will dictate whether you reach your goal. This is taking your vision a step closer to realization—not just setting a goal, but taking action. Make your goals actionable by scheduling tasks to help you accomplish your goal.
Step 5: Schedule
Set a time frame. For example, “I’m going to schedule this goal at the end of the year, because business slows down in December and that will be a great time for me to act.” Some people have a fiscal year ending in the middle of the year, so June might fit their time frame better. Determine the timing that works best for you, but involve anybody you need to, and then commit to following the schedule.
Step 6: Assess and Reassess
Follow up to be sure you are on track to complete your goals within your schedule. Reassess whether the SMART goal is still important to you. No goal is set in stone. Goals help you set the direction and keep you moving toward your vision.
When the vision shifts, your goals will shift. You assign new tasks and activities so that what you are doing on a daily basis aligns with your goals and your vision of who you want to become.