(Kindly reproduced with permission from the author.
First published on a platform by SUCCESS.com)
The Essence of Goal-Setting
A step-by-step approach for moving from your status quo to your heart’s desire
By Mary Vinnedge
If most goal-setting and action plans seem overly complex and intimidating, read on. Motivational coach-author Anthony Donnelly distills the process into easy-to-understand steps in My First Goal-Setting Book: How to Effectively Set & Achieve Your Life Goals. Goal-setting might seem new to you, but Donnelly says in practice, you do it constantly: getting out of bed at 6:30, doing your laundry, etc. The trick is to be conscious and intentional with goal-setting. “If you’ve been waiting for your wishes and dreams to come true, but nothing’s happened so far, it’s most likely because you are leaving it up to chance,” he writes.
Begin by jotting down notes about what you want, possibly related to health, leisure, family, career, education, health and/or giving back. Be sure each is something you’re extremely passionate about. Passion is the fuel that drives every successful person, Donnelly says.
Also key: Zero in on a modest goal from your wants. For instance, if you’d like to launch a business, try selling online or persuading a merchant to give you a corner display rather than leasing a 15,000-square-foot building straightaway. If you want to run a marathon but have never done more than dash to your front door in the rain, aim for a 5K race (3.1 miles)―not a half-marathon (13.1 miles)―in two months.
A key early step in Donnelly’s strategy is the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) planning tool outlined by Albert Humphrey in the 1960s. Divide a blank sheet of paper into SWOT quadrants and fill them in honestly and without rushing. Your strengths might include technical skills and tenacity. Perhaps weaknesses are impatience or shortage of money. Opportunities? Maybe a trade show or a mentor offering help. Threats could be competitors or a recession. Donnelly explains that this exercise forces you to think deeply and long-term, revealing problems to fix or avoid.
Now develop your goal statement based on SMART―aka Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound―guidelines. Don’t just write, “I want to quit my day job and be a solopreneur.” Instead be precise about your quest, establish a metric (perhaps a startup treasury plus emergency fund total), make sure it’s realistic (honest assessment), be certain the goal suits you (do you see yourself still reveling in this achievement well into the future?), and determine a deadline, something like “I will raise $15,000 and quit my job to do XXXX by next Dec. 31.” Type or write it out, and read it to yourself aloud for a positive affirmation.
Also write down five reasons why your goal matters. An example for an aspiring personal trainer: “I feel great about helping others become fit.” Incorporate the reasons into a paragraph that starts, “The reason this is important to me is…” Read this reasons statement silently and aloud. If you don’t feel thrilled about the five-point summary, put your paper aside, perhaps overnight, Donnelly says. Then revise the statement until it feels empowering. Add it below your SMART goal statement, and read these statements at least twice every day, aloud if possible. Doing so at bedtime is especially beneficial as your brain will mull them as you rest and provide you with fresh insights after you awaken.
Of course, the best plan in the world means nothing unless you act.
The next step in Donnelly’s process is the creation of action items and intermediate goals. Referring to that $15,000 needed by Dec. 31, state what needs to happen after nine months (savings of, say, $12,000), six months, three months, two months and one month. Write out these interim goals and deadlines and track your achievements. Personal-development experts emphasize the importance of celebrating each milestone with a reward such as a new book, massage or special coffee drink.
As you push forward, write weekly goals and focus on each while also visualizing the big picture, that final goal. Donnelly considers the ability to visualize your progress to be crucial for success.
Once you experience great results from setting and reaching that first modest goal, Donnelly predicts you’ll incorporate goal-setting into every area of your life, with your objectives becoming ever more ambitious.
Anthony James Donnelly is an author, motivational and business coach, and life guide. He has spent over 20 years working directly with individuals and corporations to adjust their perspectives on life. In his latest book, “My First Goal-Setting Book: How To Effectively Set & Achieve Your Life Goals”, he concisely explains how to get whatever you want out of life.