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How To Create Smart Goals

Getting back to your regular routine after your summer activities, no matter what they were, can sometimes feel like a letdown and the same old boring stuff that isn’t really working for you. This is the time to step up your resolve to create goals for where you want to go. It’s making sure you are running to something and not just away from something. For so many of you it seems like there is no use in setting goals because you never check in with them to see if you are moving toward them. Often you put them so far out into the future that it just becomes an exercise in futility so you give up on reaching them. Often they are vague and seem unattainable by anyone.

Here’s what I suggest:
First, take some undisturbed time, maybe done in small increments over several days to think about what needs to be done to wrap up your summer program commitments. Things like writing hand written thank you notes to those that ran the program and those you worked with and perhaps particular patrons. (That is one way to be well thought of and favorably remembered.) Then you might want to update your web site and post on Facebook some of the highlights. Next you might want to figure out how to use the information, skills and tools that you gained over the summer in your upcoming year.

Now it’s time to put together the how, what and when, the timeline of getting all of this accomplished. There is an acronym that is well known in the business world for creating short or long term goals. It spells out S.M.A.R.T which stands for Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Realistic – Timely. Simple and something you can remember, right?

Specific - A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. There are too many undefined and gray areas to a general goal. So… to set a specific goal you must answer the six "W" questions. And attack only one small goal at a time so you can actually accomplish it. Then move on to another using the same pattern.

Who: Who is involved? Only me this time.
What: What do I want to accomplish? I want to send hand written “thank you” notes to those that ran the program, those that I worked with and possibly some of the patrons.
Where: Identify a location. Organize my desk area so I can focus on the task at hand.
When: Establish a time frame. One week.
Which: Identify requirements and constraints. I have to first buy thank you notes, stamps, get addresses, and decide what needs to be said.
Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal. Those that I worked with will know that I appreciated all that they shared with me, and I will feel more professional and know that doing this kind of work will give me confidence in myself because I am doing my job right now.

Measurable - Establish concrete benchmarks for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your next goal.

It’s important to know if your goal is measurable so ask yourself how much can I honestly put on my already full plate each day in order to reach my goal. How many days do I want to give myself for each task and is that realistically doable? And how will I know when I have completely accomplished this goal? Answer: When the thank you notes are in the mail and on their way. It’s really simple. Do not make this complicated. Stick to doing only one week at a time with perhaps a more generalized long term goal like, I want to act, feel, sound, and look like a young professional.

Attainable - When you identify goals that are most important to you, not what someone else has suggested, you begin to figure out your own ways to make them come true. By using this formula, over time you really get good at developing the attitudes, abilities, skills, and even financial capacity to get where you want to go. And you continue to get better at it as you go because you become successful at completing each small goal that gets you to the finish line you have established on time. This allows you to really open your eyes to see previously overlooked opportunities that will help bring you closer to achieving your goals. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you help build your self esteem. You see yourself as worthy of these goals because they are yours. You then develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Realistic - To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to commit. You must believe realistically that it can be accomplished. A goal can be both long term and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how far into your future you want to set your goals. It has to work for only you. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress because you have broken it down into the small achievable steps that get you to your set time frame. This is what helps keep you motivated – you can see that each small step you take gets you closer to the big goal. It becomes a labor of love, respect and dignity as you follow through step by step and stay focused as you achieve each one. If you seem overwhelmed, take a look back into your past and find a similar goal you have achieved. Look at the steps you took to get there and use this as your guide.

Timely - A goal should be grounded within a realistic time frame for just you. With no time frame tied to it there's no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, by what date do you want to lose it? "Someday" won't work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, "by Saturday of this next week”, then you've set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal. And a mine/body in motion tends to stay in motion. You will find other things unexpectedly going your way as well.

Remember S.M.A.R.T and you will be successful maybe for the first time in setting and reaching your goals which are done on your own time schedule. Don’t try to accomplish more than you honestly can at one time. This is not a competition. Remember that the rabbit and the tortoise both crossed the finish line, they just did it on their own terms. And above all, this is business, not personal or emotional. Avanti and ciao until next time.Carol

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