Goals and Goal Setting
There is a massive abundance of advice from hordes of successful people on the subject of goals and goal setting. I do not intend to paraphrase too many of them in this article - I simply want to take you along through my personal thought processes, actions and achievements as I develop and chase my personal goals on my Internet Marketing Journey.
There is one theme which is common to all informed opinion on the subject of Goals and Goal Setting - if you do not set your goals, then how do you know where you are heading? And if you don't know where you are headed, how are you ever going to get there?
You will often see the acronym S.M.A.R.T. quoted - and it makes a great deal of sense, BUT - in my humble opinion - I do not believe the criteria can be properly applied from the outset of the process, and here is why:
S - Specific
SMART goals require specificity - they need to have a defined outcome in terms of Who, What, Why, Where, When and How Much - or as many of these as is applicable.
Thus "I want to be rich" is not a SMART goal. "I plan to be earning $1,000 per week from IM by the end of March next year" IS.
M - Measurable
Again we are talking about specificity here. "Rich" is a matter of opinion; "$1,000 per week" can be seen, felt, smelt and dealt!
A - Achievable
It is all very well wishing that we could run faster than a speeding bullet, be more powerful than a locomotive, or leap tall buildings in a single bound - but are those outcomes really achievable in real life? OK, as Napoleon Hill said - "Whatever a man can conceive and believe, he can achieve" - and I have many personal experiences which have proven to me the fantastic power that comes from positive thought.
But the key is - your goals need to be conceivable and believable in order to become achievable - purely imagined fantasy will not help any one succeed.
Having said that, there is no harm whatsoever in using pure imagination as a starting point - if you find yourself conceiving and believing the scenario you only imagined, you have a starting point to build a SMART goal.
R - Realistic
This element of a SMART goal is really a confirmation of the other four. What we are asking ourselves is not, perhaps, "Can this outcome really be achieved?" because bearing in mind Napoleon Hill's quote above, there is very little in life that can not be achieved one way or another. The actual question we need to answer in order to render our goal SMART is "Can this outcome really be achieved within the constraints placed on it by myself, my available resources, or third party interventions?"
It may often be the case that an unrealistic desired outcome can be turned into a SMART goal simply by modifying one or more elements until it actually becomes realistic.
For instance: "I want to gross one million dollars from scratch in my IM business by Tuesday next week" is definitely a goal - a desired outcome. It is specific. It is measurable. Elements of it are achievable - many Internet Marketeers have grossed many millions of dollars over time. It has the fifth element which I have not yet listed - it has a time frame. BUT - is it REALISTIC?
Well, never say never but I think that the chances of a complete newbie turning over one million dollars in his first seven days are about the same as me jumping over the Empire State Building so I have no hesitation in saying that for me this is NOT a SMART goal. It is NOT REALISTIC!
T - Timed
The final element of a SMART goal is timing. We need to include a specific time frame in order to be SMART. How long will this goal take to achieve? By what date will this goal be achieved? etc. etc. Dates, times, deadlines are an indispensable component of a SMART goal.
You may recall that I started this section by saying "You will often see the acronym S.M.A.R.T. quoted - and it makes a great deal of sense, BUT - in my humble opinion - I do not believe the criteria can be properly applied from the outset of the process"
I hope now that by reference to the 5 elements above you are able to see where I am coming from. The key word to take on board is "process". Goal setting, goal design, goal development is a PROCESS, not an EVENT.
The reason I make this point is that we all have wants and desires that are important to us - in all walks of life, not just in financial success. It is just that for many of us many of those desires have not yet been crystalised into goals - and that is fine if the time has not yet been right.
Unfortunately there are some loud and forceful personalities in all our lives - people for whom a little learning has proven to be a dangerous thing. These guys think they know all about SMART goals. To them, any desire that is not a SMART goal is derisible. If you are unfortunate enough to mention your dreams of sailing around the world one day, they will consider it their duty to shout you down, denigrate your desires, and berate you for being a dreamer who will never actually achieve.
You need to ignore these negative ignorant naysayers. These dream crushers. Do not allow their prejudices and lack of in depth knowledge prevent you from turning your dreams into SMART goals - when YOU are good and ready!!
Think about it. How often is a SMART goal defined instantaneously, with all 5 elements present and correct, ready for action?
In my experience this only happens to an individual when the goal is presented to them by a third party - but even then that third party will have had to go through a goal setting process first.
That process will have been triggered by a desire or a need to reach an outcome. ALL goals are triggered this way. By internal desire for an outcome we have imagined or dreamt of. Or by an external call to action. Or by a combination. And the triggering impulse needs to be strong enough to overcome the common human inertia - has to make us uncomfortable doing nothing.
So, if you are full of dreams but have no goals as yet - not necessarily an issue. Once again, many goals start as dreams. They are often just waiting for the right trigger. The important thing to realise is that if and when desire becomes necessity, then you need to act immediately - start a goal setting process and develop SMART goals that will lead to the required outcome.
So as mentioned above, development of a SMART goal is a process. All processes require a start point. That start point may be quite tenuous at the outset. So what? If it references something you want or need to achieve the important issue is that it does provide a starting point.
Us humans are very much a visually driven race. It can often help to use imagery as the starting point; as a representation of your initial motivation; and as an ongoing reminder and for motivational sustenance as action progresses toward realisation of your goal.
With that in mind my next article deals with the goal setting process triggered by the subject matter of a wonderful photograph depicting a J Class racing yacht of 1930's vintage racing in the Solent off the Isle of Wight UK.
Would this image (or one related to one of YOUR dreams) trigger any desires or needs in YOU? Have a think about what you would do to move towards a desirable outcome triggered by such an image - brainstorm your thoughts on paper or in a mind map then apply the principles above to create your own SMART route to achieving that dream.