Somebody once said, If you don’t know where you are going; How will you know if you’ve gotten there?
One of the most important things that you can do with your life is to figure out what you want. The ‘where you want to go’ part. Anyone can drift down the river of life on a floating log going only where the current takes you. This is, I think, what happens to most people. The river of life has a pretty fantastic view and is pretty easy to get caught up in. To carry this metaphor a bit further… We could say the warm water on a nice sunshiny day could be the good times. Like being in love, getting a good job or enjoying times with friends. Anyone who has ever seen a river however, knows that there are rapids and fast water, waterfalls, even crocodiles and poisonous snakes! (let’s say these sections of the water are times of trial and tribulation… Divorce, loss of job loss of health).
What if there was a way to see where the river went; where it ended, I guess, like a map! What if there was a way we could grab a stick and kind of fashion it into some kind of a steering device, (oh, a paddle). All we would really need to do is to study the map and choose the route that would be the best suited to our own personal attributes and abilities. We could use the paddle to steer clear of the crocodile infested sections… we could ‘portage’ around the water falls. (I think most of us would include a few rapids, just to keep it from getting too boring). This is like goal setting success.
What is a goal.
Wikipedia defines: A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines. A goal is looking over the map in depth. Studying every aspect, analyzing every possible variable and choosing the result that we would like to achieve. If we decide to drift on a floating log we are at the mercy of the current, we will go where the river takes us. If we decide that there is a specific place we want to end up, this is a goal! Goals must be (what the experts term) SMART, smart being an acronym for – S – specific, M – Measurable, A – Achievable, R – realistic/relevant and T – time bound.
Specific – You need to know exactly what you want to accomplish. Jumping on that log and paddling away from the water falls is good, but better would be to say That you want to get to that nice place where the sweet fruit trees are… Let’s say our goal is we want to be rich. That’s a pretty good goal but simply saying we want to be rich is just a start. Rich is an ambiguous word that means many different things to different people.
Measurable – giving your goal something that can be measured will help you realize when you have met that goal. Let’s take our first example of being rich, this is an easy one to measure. To me being rich would mean that I have a passive income (from investments and holdings) of over $500,000. per year (of course adjusted to include inflation every year). So now our goal is specific (we want to be rich) and a measurable (passive income over $500K). Our goal is getting better but still needs some work.
Achievable – This has absolutely nothing to do with whether you believe you can achieve it or not. The achievable portion is only what has to be done in order to make it happen. Our (being rich) example is an easy one because there are millions of people who have achieved this goal before us. Every one of them has left a map on how they did it. You could probably waste the rest of your life just reading less than one percent of the ‘way I made my fortune’ books available. However, you could study three or four and get the common ideas and build your ‘steps’ based on that. Achievable is only writing down the steps that are needed to reach the goal, not if you believe you can achieve it.
Realistic/Relevant – What might be relevant may not be realistic to you, this is where the belief comes in. A relevant goal is one that seams worthwhile (health comes to mind). In our example of being rich, this may be very relevant to you. The things money can do for you in your older years is incredible. You have access to better doctors better housing and care, better food, better relaxation and entertainment. A realistic goal is one that you believe you will be able to accomplish. You certainly do not want to set your goals too low. Saying that you want to be rich with a passive income of $10,000. per year would be silly. Saying that you want to be rich with a passive income of $10 million per year may be just too hard to grasp (right now). As humans, we most often over estimate what we can accomplish in a year but under estimate what we can accomplish in ten years. So, setting a goal of creating $10K in a year may be more than we can accomplish, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we cannot create over ten times that mount in ten years!
Time Bound –
Time is simply how long you have to achieve your goal. Do you want to be rich in a few years, or can you wait fifteen or twenty? It’s pretty surprising how many very, very wealthy people became wealthy in a few short years. Are they lucky? Maybe, but I bet they all had pretty lofty goals! The funny thing about goals is that you will never, never ever get a goal you don’t have! You may not fully reach the goals you do have set but you will be a lot closer than if you don’t set the goal. Wayne Gretzky (known as the ‘Great One’ in the hockey world) said “you will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. So let’s expand our (being rich) goal… We want to be rich (S), having a passive income of $500K/year(M) by slowly building investments that will net us increasing sums each year(A) (R) for twenty years (T).
There are three types of goals: 1) Short Term, 2) Medium Term and 3) Long Term goals.
Short term goals are those that are from not shorter than a week to not much longer than a year or eighteen months. Saying “today I am going to do (this) cannot really be considered a goal. (Maybe a very short term goal).
Medium term goals are those goals that are between a year and ten years in length (to achieve). These goals connect our short term goals to our long term goals. For example, our medium term goal would outline how we are going to achieve a sufficient income to pay off a mortgage if our long term goal was to own a house free and clear. Our short term goal may be how to come up with the down payment.
Long term goals are those that will take more than ten years to achieve. These are our ‘life goals’ that may be hard to come up with but are probably the most important ones. If we go back to the river and drift on a floating log, the rapids, crocodiles, poisonous snakes and waterfalls are inevitable. If we look at the map build a paddle and learn how to use it, we can avoid these things. Even get to parts of the river where there is sweet, sweet fruit trees growing.
My dad recently passed away from multiple issues attributed to diabetes. That’s pretty much like going over Niagra Falls! If he had set some health goals and studied his maps (like family history drinking alcohol, eating refined sugar…) he could have made a long term goal to be healthy and live to an old age. In this case his medium term goals could have been sticking to a healthy diet and his short term goals would be something like: This week I am going to try one new green vegetable that I haven’t tried before. This is just one example of why it is important to learn about goal setting success.
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