On January 1st many of us identified some big changes we want to make or a plan we want to accomplish during the new year. By February 1st we began wondering what we were thinking and why we paid for a whole year gym membership or committed to a seemingly impossible resolution to lose weight and get in shape.
Now that the month of January is behind us, don’t get discouraged because your resolutions have fallen by the way side. Instead, get excited because now is the time to get seriously focused on how you can identify and construct effective goals and action plans so 2016 can be your best year ever!
So where do you start? I recommend to my clients that they begin by learning and implementing the SMART approach to goal setting. By clicking here you can download instructions on how to begin identifying and creating SMART goals and action plans. You will also receive helpful worksheets for creating each of your goals and action plans.
The SMART approach begins with writing down what you want to achieve, accomplish or acquire – your goals – in a very Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely manner.
Let’s look at a simple example.
Begin with a general statement describing what you want to accomplish. This is what is referred to as an Objective. Here is an example:
Objective: Turn the unfinished back yard into a wonderful setting for entertaining friends and family.
In order to accomplish a large, multi-faceted objective like this, you will want to now identify a SMART Goal that will effectively guide the process of creating your back yard oasis.
Goal: Landscape the back yard by May 15th, 2016 by planting three shade trees and perennial plants to be located in the existing plant beds, covering dirt areas with ¾ inch decorative rock, installing a built-in gas fire pit and outdoor barbecue grill along with three concrete park benches to be located around the fire pit.
The next step is to break down your SMART Goal into a manageable Action Plan.
1. Create a simple landscape design for the new project by February 7th.
2. Go to Southwest Nursery and select shade trees and perennial plants by February 15th
3. Work with personnel from the local home store to construct a supply list for the irrigation system, fire pit and outdoor barbecue grill by February 25th.
4. Plant all vegetation by March 23rd.
5. Call Jim (friend) by February 28th to schedule three weekends in March and April to work on building and installing the gas fire pit and barbecue grill.
6. Order rock to be delivered to home by April 15th and have spread in yard by April 30th.
7. Order concrete park benches and set up around fire pit by May 1st.
8. Schedule graduation party for May 28th to be held in new back yard!
I’m not a landscaper, so I will quit while I’m ahead with the backyard project advice, but the example simply shows an uncomplicated, effective structure for getting done what you want to do. Often the hardest part of any undertaking is just getting started. A written document of what you plan to do, and by when, will give you confidence that you’re doing the right things at the right times to achieve your goal, and will allow you to put a big check-mark by each action plan step as you complete it. Each completed step builds your momentum to the next.
Because things don’t always work out the way we expect, you can modify your plan any time. The structure you create is a guideline that can be changed if other circumstances change – so be flexible. After all, you may decide that a fountain or a hot tub would be much more enjoyable than a fire pit and built-in barbecue grill. If so, just modify your plan by thinking through and writing down the necessary steps.
The key is giving yourself a framework that involves written objectives, SMART goal(s) and action plans. Remember, the most important thing about your goals is to be SMART about how you approach them.
Live, Work and Relate Well!