Just about everyone has dreams, hopes, and visions of what they want their lives, jobs, and families to be like. It’s our nature to think about these things and work towards our desired result. But how do you get there?
A plan is the first step in achieving our goals and with no plan, getting where we want to be is very unlikely. “Winging it” just doesn’t cut it. Wishing and hoping, well you already know from your own life experiences that that doesn’t work either. So now you may be thinking, where do I go from here? Do you believe in magic? No, I don’t mean the Harry Houdini kind. Although, wouldn’t that be great! There are models and templates out there to guide you in goal planning to achieve success. I’ve come up with my very own acronym for this mindset I call M.A.G.I.C. Simply:
Making A Goal Increases Chances
Just like magic, making a goal (and writing it down) will increase your chance for success at getting what you really want. But you just can’t “do” a goal. You do the things that make it happen. A good plan will clearly define what it is you want to achieve. Good plans are linked to specific steps, actions, and resources that will result in success. Finally, they include timeframes to see results.
There is a very famous acronym (I can’t take credit for this one, dammit) that really spells out what a plan should be and how it results in achieving goals. You may have heard it over your lifetime more than once. It’s called S.M.A.R.T.:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Actionable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
The very first thing you need to do is write down your goals on paper. Pick one or two so that you can easily focus. Too many goals may divide your attention and cause your actions to be less focused and your results to fail. In your first attempts to plan and achieve important goals, it is better to uncomplicate things. Make the goals as specific as possible.
After writing your goals, look at how you will measure the results. If it’s a business or professional goal, it may be to increase sales over last year by 10%. Or if it’s a new business, establish the target numbers for sales and expenses. A personal goal might be to lose 50 lbs., to go to the gym twice a week, or to save $100 per month. Simply deciding that you’ll increase sales or will save more money is not specific enough.
Next, commit to the goals and make definable action points as to what you will do to actually achieve your goals. These action points are critical to plan and practice. They have to be realistic and achievable so you don’t get discouraged and give up.
Lastly, your timeline needs to be established. Are these annual, monthly, weekly or even daily goals? If it’s a large goal over a long period of time, you may want to break it down into smaller goals for your best chance at success.
Reviewing your goals periodically before the timelines get too far along is very important. Revising your plans is part of good planning and adjusting action points that aren’t producing your desired results is imperative. Too many people think that a plan is written in stone and that thought alone may doom it to failure. Look at it often and do something. Doing nothing after you look is actually doing something. Not reviewing it at all is doing nothing.
There’s very little difference between planning professional or career goals and personal or family goals. The major difference is that personal and family goals may be less formal. If you have ever worked in a business environment, you probably have had an annual personnel review session that has gone over goals that were planned for you. You were then evaluated to determine how successful you were. Progress on your goals will often decide whether you get a promotion or a pay raise. Personal goals probably won’t get you called in for that kind of evaluation, although I don’t know your spouse or kids, maybe they will! However, it’s still a good idea to spend some time reflecting on your progress in your personal goals and what you could do to improve in the future.
There’s one more thing known as the 80/20 rule that you should consider when planning and measuring goals and their results. This rule means that if you examine your efforts in achieving your goals, you’ll usually find that you spend 20% of your effort in getting 80% of your desired results. Obviously you want to focus on the efforts that bring you the best results and consider dropping the actions that aren’t bringing you the outcomes you desire.
So think about my new term M.A.G.I.C. as you’re hoping and dreaming about your life. I once worked with an actual magician when I was a kid and he was really terrific. He’d always amaze his audience with his tricks, which he had planned out in extreme detail and practiced again and again to achieve his desired results. I once asked him after a particularly astounding trick, “How did you do that?” His answer stuck with me and now I’m going to pass it on to you: “Very well!” he said to me. Now that’s a man who planned for success!
What are you doing to plan for personal and career success? Are you focused on a smart, magical plan, or are you just “winging it”?
Image courtesy of Jin on Flickr (with changes)