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The How and the When of Goal Setting

Last week I focused on the importance of visualizing the impact that reaching your goal will have on your life.  When you buy into the end result before you even begin your steps towards it, you’re more likely to stay focused along your journey to attain it. That helps when you run into rough patches along the way.   Visualization alone, however, won’t get you where you’re headed.   Just like you might plan a trip, plotting how you’ll get there and accounting for the time the entire trip will take, you must plan how and by when you want to reach your goal.

Planning the “how” in goal setting means that you are looking not only at necessary steps you may need to take, but also the order in which those steps need to be taken. At this point, you are mapping how to get from your current situation to the desired situation of successfully completing your goal. While you’re planning, you may run across a step that is new to you.  Perhaps you’ve never done anything like it in the past. It’s at this point that you may need to add additional steps, listed prior to that one, that detail how you will go about acquiring the necessary information, money, or resource you need, or possibly even a skill set that you don’t yet have.  Whatever it is that you need but don’t have, proper planning will more than likely bring it into focus.  There’s nothing more frustrating than jumping into action head first, only to realize you don’t have all the things you need to finish the endeavor successfully.  Begin with the end in mind during the visualization step, and then work backwards in your planning to map out the “how.”

Once you’re comfortable with the planning steps you just enumerated, you will have the information that you need to establish the “when” of your goal.  The “when” relates to the date you have successfully reached your goal. When you look over your “how” planning steps, you may realize that your goal can be accomplished in less time than you originally anticipated.  It may be that you originally underestimated how long it would take.  Be realistic when you set your target “due” date for reaching your goal.  No matter what, though, you must set a target date.  When we don’t set a date on our calendar for something we want to achieve, it doesn’t usually become a reality. If it by some miracle does, it’s much later than we would have liked it to happen.  Having a target due date allows us to work towards something.  It keeps us on track.  Without it, there is one less accountability push.  With it, we run the race with our eyes fixed on the finish line!

Next Week:  Examining the What of Goal Setting