Planning and Goal Setting for Optimal Results

Let’s talk about planning... What kind of planning you ask? Life planning, professional planning, family planning, vacation planning, goal setting, etc. No matter the kind of plan, I’m always amazed at those who cruise through life without a plan. Now, while there is indeed a fine line between over planning and under planning; I can rest you assure that having no plan is a surefire way of never reaching ones’ desired level of success. For an example, year after year, I watch individuals set New Year’s resolutions/goals, but beyond choosing a goal, there is no strategic planning involved. How can one expect to reach his or her desired outcomes if he/she doesn’t have a plan? In the words of American Professional baseball player and coach, Yogi Berra --- “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else”.

Goal setting is an important process toward making your dreams a reality. It provides benefits that can improve various aspects of your life. Setting and achieving goals not only builds self-confidence, but also improves academic and professional performance. Setting goals challenges individuals and organizations to reach their full potential. Identifying the goal is the first step, then you must work hard to achieve that goal. Unfortunately, most fall short of step two. A study from the University of Scranton found that 92% of people setting New Year goals fail to achieve them. So, how do you ensure you can be a part of the successful 8%? You start the goal process by discovering the desired goal. Your aspiration should be a SMART goal, which means it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. The next step, which research has found to be the most critical step, is to write your goals down. Once you write them down, they are a physical piece of evidence, which ultimately makes your goal real and not just a part of your imagination. Another way to help you stick to your goal is by sharing them with friends and family---they can help keep you accountable. While many of us have high aspirations and this is great, it is important that these aspirations are broken up into chunks (manageable weekly tasks/goals) that can be easily achieved. If you don’t break up your goals in to realistic chunks, it is easy to lose motivation and ultimately believe that your dreams are unattainable. Once you have your weekly action plan, the next step is to get started and persevere until you achieve success. Start small and see your goals to completion. In the words of the late great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward”.

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