I was shocked the first time I heard the statistics on goal setting. I had certainly set goals at times in my career as an athlete, but this was done because my coaches had told me it was a good idea. I had no idea just how much impact this could have on my life.
Research statistics are clear on the influence that goal setting can have on your career and life. In a 10-year study performed at Harvard University, researchers demonstrated that the 13 percent of individuals who simply wrote down their goals earned twice as much than individuals who did not.
Staggering, right? Wait, we are not quite finished. This same study showed that the 3 percent of individuals who took this a step further and revisited their goals on a daily basis outearned the remaining 97 percent of people included in the study.
If you are a proactive person, then these statistics are likely more than enough incentive to get you inspired to take immediate action to set goals in your life. Since you are still reading, I will assume you are in this category.
The logical starting point for setting goals is to sit down and identify 5-10 desired outcomes that you would like to achieve within the next year. You can use this “Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting” by entrepreneur Michael Hyatt as a guide.
It is important that you are specific in the exact things you want to achieve so your subconscious brain can help you close the gap on these goals.
As you create your initial list of one-year goals, you can earn the right to be among the 3 percent of elite performers by carefully considering these 5 “must ask” questions.
THE FIVE “MUST ASK” GOAL SETTING QUESTIONS
1. Is it meaningful?
This is without a doubt the most important question you can ask yourself when setting your goals. It may sound simple, but most people never give this question the attention it deserves. As a result, they often pursue goals and fail because they have chosen aspirations that do not truly matter to them. Thus, they will not fight for them when they face adversity. Is the goal something that honestly excites YOU when you think about it? Not your parents, friends, or co-workers. YOU. When you can answer this question with a definite yes, then you are ready to move on to the next question.
2. Does it have the “I” factor?
If you are going to give yourself the best chance of achieving your goals, then you must learn to fully own them. This means fully believing you will achieve them regardless of what other negative people think. So, how does the “I” factor fit in to this equation? It is quite simple really. When you create your goals, you should always write them in first person so you train your brain to believe they will happen (e.g., I sign with top literary agent with potential to help me launch remarkable author career by July 30, 2015). Revisiting these each day will build confidence and allow you to close the gap on your goals.
3. Are you proud of it?
As a progression to the previous question, it is important to ask whether you are proud of your goal. Is it something you are so passionate about that you are willing to share it with others? When you find something that energizes you and have the courage to take action to make it a reality, you will inevitably get to the point where you are ready to tell others about your aspirations. This is when you will know that you are ready to fully own your goals.
4. Does it align with your WHY?
This question is one that sounds simple, but can be challenging as you consider exactly what you hope to accomplish with your life. Once you know your vision (life-long dreams), it is important to make sure that your one-year goals are in alignment with them so you are efficient with your time and efforts. This will energize you because it will will connect your daily actions with your deep inner passions. This will ensure that you keep making the necessary investments when things get challenging in your journey.
5. Is it SMART?
The final step in the initial goal setting process is to ask whether the goal is “SMART.” This is an acronym that ensures that you have the fundamentals for writing a goal properly from a technical standpoint. This modified principle will help you finalize your goals and includes five elements. Once you have your initial goals in place, you should ask whether they are (1) specific, (2) measurable, (3) applicable, (4) reasonable, and (5) time bound. We will cover each of these elements in the next blog entry. For now, focus on implementing questions #1-4 so you are ready to refine and finalize your goals.
Now is the time to decide if you will commit to transforming your life. If you have the self-discipline to follow through on the creation and implementation of goal setting, you will put yourself amoung the 3 percent of elite performers that run laps around the rest of the field.