I want to take a little time this week and talk to you about setting goals. And not just for playing sports, eating better or staying in shape, but in all aspects of your life. Our good friend Webster defines a goal as “the end toward which effort is directed.” Goals help us focus on what we want out of life and motivate us to get there; they provide us direction and purpose. When we set goals, we know what we want to achieve so that we can focus our minds on a single, worthwhile target and not get distracted easily. Without goals, we’re just drifting along hoping something good will happen. The question is, do you want something good to happen in your life, or do you want to make something good happen in your life?

Make sure that every goal you set, big or small, is a SMART goal. This acronym is not something I came up with, it has been around for a long time, but I will explain my take on each aspect of what it means for a goal to be SMART. Each goal needs to be:

Specific
Write down that you are going to lose 20 pounds instead of simply saying you are going to lose weight. Write down that you are going to start eating at least one piece of fruit in the morning with breakfast (apple, banana, grapefruit, etc) rather than saying you are going to eat healthier. Also, it helps to start with the end goal, then work out the details in-between.

Measurable

You need to be able to measure the success of your goal. Write down how long it will take you or how much you plan to accomplish. Also, do not be afraid to reexamine your goals and update them from time to time. Once you set your goals, you cannot simply set them aside and forget about them. You have to keep looking over them, measure your success and update the goals accordingly.

Attainable
Your goals have to be concrete. You cannot simply say you are going to change the world. Everyone wants to change the world. What are you specifically going to do to change the world? Once you have that written down, what specific steps are you going to take to reach that goal?

Realistic
If you have never run before in your life, do not set a goal to run a marathon in a month. Make sure your goal is something attainable. Instead of a month, write down that you will run a marathon in a year and then set out a daily and monthly plan of how to accomplish that goal.

Timely
Start setting goals right now, the longer you procrastinate the higher the likelihood that you will not accomplish your goal. Also, have a realistic timeframe to accomplish your goals. Make sure that you have both long-term and short-term goals. Post your daily goals on the fridge and check them off as you complete them. Keep your monthly goals taped to the mirror in your bathroom. Put your 1 year/5 year/10 year goals in your purse, wallet or backpack, and take a look at them at least once a month to make sure you are still on track.


Here are a couple practical applications of setting SMART goals:
Those are some pretty big differences for basically the same goals. How many times have you thought you were setting goals, but your goals sounded more like the first column? Simply setting goals is not enough, you have to set SMART goals and get started on them right away. You will also notice I have said several times to write down your goals. That is key. If they are not written down, they are easier to ignore and harder to measure.

Michael Jordan did not play in the NBA by chance. Barak Obama was not walking down the street one day, all of the sudden trip, then stand up as president. Phil Night, founder of Nike, did not simply draw a swoosh on the side of some shoes and become a billionaire over night. All of these people, and other successful people like them, had goals, SMART goals, that they worked hard to accomplish. I would be willing to bet that none of them are done setting goals, either. It is a lifelong process, full of revisions and reevaluations. The point is to set goals, then follow the path to achieving them. No one can make you do it; you have to make the choice. Make the choice to follow the plan outlined above to start setting goals today. In fact, start right now.

Until next week,
Coach Michael

Today’s Fun Fact: Did you know that any month that begins on a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th, and there is at least one Friday the 13th in every calendar year?

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