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Goal setting

Updated: Apr 9, 2019

More than likely you know what you want to achieve by the end of the day (short-term). But do you know what you want to achieve in five years (long-term)? Ten years? In your lifetime?


If we want to succeed, we need to be intentional about setting goals. Goals give us focus. Setting goals allows us to take control of our life’s direction, and it provides a benchmark to determine if we are making progress.


Research has suggested that those who write down goals accomplish significantly more than those who do not. Research also suggests that those who make consistent progress toward their goals live happier, more satisfied lives than those that don’t.


To accomplish goals, we need to know how to set them. The goal setting process needs to start with careful consideration of what one wants to achieve and the work that’s involved to accomplish the goal. Goals should reflect our unique personality, passions and dreams.


Here's some steps to consider when goal setting:

  1. Check your motives. Take a long, hard look in the mirror and make sure you’re going after your goals for the right reasons.

  2. Think in Categories. Dividing your goals into categories can help gather focus. Categories may include career, family, financial, travel, physical or influential.

  3. Make SMART goals. While there are variations in what SMART stands for, the essence is: Specific-goals must be clear and well defined, Measurable-making goals measurable helps see what we're accomplishing, Attainable-make sure they are attainable or your confidence will erode, Relevant-goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life to take, Time Bound-deadlines create a sense of urgency and the achievement of the goal will come quicker.

  4. Write them down & share them. The physical act of writing them down makes them real and tangible. Sharing them helps build accountability towards accomplishing them. Share them with a family member, close peer, friend or professional coach.

  5. Make an action plan. We can get so focused on the outcome that we can forget to plan the steps that are needed along the way. Having steps helps us see the progress toward reaching the goal.

  6. Celebrate along the way. When you accomplish a goal, celebrate it!

  7. Think long term. Most of us overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, but we underestimate what we can accomplish in five or ten years.

  8. Plan for obstacles. When making goals also plan for emergent (unplanned) obstacles that might arise on the way.

  9. Prayer. Prayer is an invaluable resource to help us accomplish our goals.

Goals help us focus, guide our steps and give us direction. But what is often more valuable than the goal itself is the path it takes to get there because sometimes unplanned obstacles get in the way. Let me explain.


A few years back, my wife and I set a goal to climb the Manitou Incline in Colorado (pictured above). If you are unfamiliar with the incline, its famous for its steep grade and sweeping views. The incline gains over 2000 feet of elevation in less than one mile. We booked our flight and made our hotel reservations. The trip was set. Upon our arrival, however; we discovered something we couldn’t have planned for. The trail was closed for repairs! Let’s just say there was some disappointment. We had been training for this physical endurance test. This was the goal we had set.


What did we do? While we didn’t reach our goal of making it to the top on the incline, we still made it to the top-just via the side path. In fact, we exceeded our goal this unexpected and unanticipated way. Our total distance up was four times longer. And after the four miles up, we ran the majority of the way down. We pushed ourselves to a higher level of performance than we planned.


Were we disappointed we didn’t get to climb the incline? Most definitely. But what’s more valuable than the goal itself was the path it took us to get there. It stretched us. It took some discipline. We changed some habits. And it challenged us for higher levels of performance. Do we check it off as accomplished? Definitely!


We challenge you to set some goals. Whether they are personal, career, team or organization focused, what goals will you set for this year? For five years? Ten years? Your lifetime?

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