One Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early,  it helps when you have a six year old jumping on your bed,  to hear my son say, “Mommy, get up or I’m gonna kick you in the asp”.  Bill Cosby was right, kids say the darnedest things.

The truth is, we all need a little “kick in the asp” every once in a while.  When it comes down to it, there are really only two reasons we don’t accomplish our goals:

1. We don’t start

2. We don’t finish

If you wait for divine inspiration to do the things you know you should do, whether it be exercise, writing, networking, etc., you’ll be waiting a long time.  Tom Hill said, discipline is doing what you know you should until it becomes a habit.

I think the biggest problem we experience, at least I know it’s true for me, is that large goals seem overwhelming.    In my estimation, most people don’t fail because they set their goals too high and miss, but rather because they set their goals too low and reach them.  Whatever it is that you want to accomplish, a simple goal setting process can make it a reality.  This is certainly not a new concept, but we make it so complex, that it becomes daunting.  Here is a simple formula to follow when you want to set and accomplish a goal.

The first mistake most people make when it comes to goal setting is that they don’t write their goals down.  People who write down their goals are 88% more likely to accomplish them.  Why?  Because it forces you to crystallize your thinking.  The second mistake I see most often is that we start our goals with “I want to….”.  If your goal is to want to, you’ve already accomplished it.  It must start with “I WILL”.  Now you  might say, come on, does that really matter?  Absolutely.  We believe the messages we send ourselves, and we are very visual.  The correct wording makes a huge difference.

A tried and true method of goal setting begins with SMART goals.  Follow this formula when setting your goals:

Specific – Goals must be extremely specific.  Hazy goals produce hazy results, but clear goals produce clear results.

Level of completion must be measured.  If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

The goal must be realistic.  While you want to challenge yourself, make sure you don’t set yourself up to fail.

The goal must be relevant and important to you and your life.

There must be s a defined time within which the goal needs to be met

Remember the slight edge.  It is not the big changes made at one time that produce the biggest results.  The small changes, made consistently are what pack the biggest punch.  As you go through your goal setting process, here are some questions to help guide you:

What are your personal and professional goals?

Where do you currently stand and where do you want to be?

What is your plan to reduce the gap?

What is your W.I.I.F.M. (What’s In It For Me)?  There must be a strong personal motivation.

What resources will you need?

How will you track and manage your success?

How will you reward yourself?

What are the benefits to be gained by accomplishing the goal?

What are potential obstacles that could get in your way?

What are possible solutions to those obstacles?

What small, manageable action steps will you take each day, week, month, etc.?

How will you plan and prioritize daily and incorporate your action steps into your daily routine?

How will you track and measure your progress?

How will you reward yourself for success?

If you get off track, how do you make sure you don’t derail?

The last and most important step is probably the most difficult.  Think about the things you say to yourself.  If you’re like me, some of these could be:  “I shouldn’t have said that” or “I can’t believe I ate that!”  We believe one person more than anyone in the world.  This person is so powerful that he/she will determine whether or not you succeed.  Who is this person?  YOU!

Even if you say things like, “I won’t be unhealthy”, your brain doesn’t register the “won’t”.  All you hear is “unhealthy”.  Try saying things in the present tense, as if they are already true.  I know it seems a bit odd at first, but you become what you repeatedly think and do.  In other words, what you think about, you bring about.  Change your messages so that they are in the present tense and positive.  For example, “I am healthy and strong” or “I live life to its fullest”.

This step is critical and requires a lot of practice.  Write these sentences down and put them in places you will see constantly.  If you don’t want to do that, get a visual reminder.  Just remember, out of sight…out of mind.

Here’s to your continued success in 2010!

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