Goal development is about looking specifically at a goal you’ve chosen to focus on, to create an effective goal that will lead you to success.
Firstly, you need to properly define this goal.
Read through the ‘goal’ as you’ve written it down. Is this goal specific? Is it a clear statement of what you want to achieve? Does it steer you towards something you really want? Is it too broad, in which case break it down into more manageable chunks and focus on one of these chunks for the time being.
Your next step is to re-write this ‘goal’ into something specific to give you clarity, direction, motivation and focus towards what you want.
So on a piece of paper, write the following (and complete!):
My goal is to …….. This goal is required for the ……………….. aspect of my life, in order for me to achieve my ‘big-picture’ ambition of ………………………………………………………………….
Secondly, ask yourself “why”, and write this underneath the goal definition. How will achieving this goal benefit you?
I want to achieve this goal because ……………………………….
Remember, goal development is about making sure your goals are personal and meaningful, otherwise you’ll have no reason to achieve them. In other words, the “Why” is more important than the “What”. It’s important for you to put the “Why” in writing to reinforce the benefits of achieving this goal.
Thirdly, read through these statements again – are they realistic? Are they what you really want? Are they ethical, exciting and enjoyable?
Fourthly, and now that your goal definition and motivation is out of the way, you can look at how to achieve it.
This will take some further goal development and the best way to do it is Mind Map It! Put your goal in the center of the page and go from there. Radiating out from this central goal statement, generate ideas and thoughts on:
Your current position in relation to this goal – are you nearly there, or not even in the ball-park? What obstacles are there to you achieving this goal? This is a bit like a Mini-SWOT analysis of this particular goal, and also sets the ‘starting’ point for future measurement of progress against the goal.
scale for the goal – is progress easy to measure (eg weight loss) or do you need to develop a ranking system?
What do you need to achieve this goal – time, money, support, more information, other resources? What sacrifices do you need to make in order to achieve this goal and what level of effort do you need to apply? Is this level of effort sustainable in the short | medium | long term? Some short term ‘pain’ for long term ‘gain’ is probably worth it!
Who makes up your support group for this goal – family and friends? Official support group or organization? Do you have a personal mentor? Identify sources of support and their role in your goal setting journey whether it be advice, someone to lean on or bounce ideas off, or someone to help with maintaining motivation.
What steps are needed to achieve this goal – this will form the basis of your action plan and mini goals. Research the topic and break it down into logical and identifiable steps. This will be easy for some goals such as weight-loss, but other outcome-based goals may be harder to define.
How long will each step take?
As you jot down all your thoughts, you will see some common threads – connect these with lines and arrows (use colour so it’s easy to follow).
This is the ‘working’ part of SMART goal development, with the key being good research on what it takes to achieve your goal – the more you know and understand your goal, the more comfortable you’ll feel undertaking it, so make sure you put the effort into effective goal development.
During this research based stage it’s important not to get side-tracked, particularly if you’re using the Internet as your main research tool.
It is very easy to start taking detours and ‘scenic’ routes to your destination, so make sure you regularly read your goal statement and keep this in the forefront of your mind while you are researching your goal – don’t be tempted to start following a different route now!
Remember that the goal you’ve set is based on your understanding of yourself and your real needs and wants, and is therefore what you need to be developing.