When affecting change in our lives we are often stymied by our own human nature to get things done and get them done now. I want those ten pounds gone tomorrow! Patience and our lack of it is a certain killer of change. Even if we lost those ten pounds in one day, they will be back tomorrow.
Our unrealistic expectations are also another certain killer of change. We set our goals based on these unrealistic expectations. Combine poor goals with our lack of patience and our much needed or wanted change does not have a chance.
Setting good attainable goals with realistic action steps are key to not only implementing change but also to help curb the desire to quit when our patience runs thin.
I have worked with adults, for over ten years, on how to set good goals. In this article I will provide the steps to set good goals with workable action steps.
What is your goal? Go ahead write it down right now.
Does it look something like this – “I want to make more money, or I want to lose 50 pounds?”
When people make a list of intentions, such as New Year’s Resolutions, a vague goal is where they stop. You are doomed to failure before you even start with goals that are too broad and do not include a plan of action.
“I want to make more money.” What does more mean? One dollar more or $20,000 more? Do you want to make more money in a year, a week a month? This goal of more money – we are going to write it so that it works.
“I want to have $5,000 in a savings account by (here we would insert a date so please make that realistic as well.)
We don’t stop at the goal. We place action steps along the way to help provide the path to our overall goal. It breaks the goal down into timely and manageable pieces. Action steps are guidelines.
Goal: I will have $5,000 in a savings account by December 15, 2013.
First Action step: Open savings account by February 1, 2013.
Really you ask, I need to write that down? Yes you do. First of all it provides a tangible reward by checking it off the list. And second, you have a date this action needs to be done. You are accountable.
Second Action step: Determine amount of money you can put into savings account every week by February 15, 2013
Depending on your set of circumstances under this action step you would plan activities such as, looking at your income and expenses. Do the math, how much each week do you need to contribute to have your $5,000 by the expected date? Put a “complete by” date after each activity as well. Once again, it gives you positive reinforcement and it let you visually see you are making progress toward your goal. One easy way to not let your lack of patience derail you.
If after you complete this set of activities and you see that the goal of $5,000 is unrealistic in the time frame, given your circumstance, then change it! You can do that. You can go to your computer or your pad of paper and you can change the dollar amount. At any time during the process, you can go back and readjust.
Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Many times when people set a goal and something happens that set them back, they just give up. “Well I can’t make that extra $5,000 so why bother. I won’t do anything.” Readjust your action steps or activities if you need to and just carry on.
Third Action Step: Deposit X number of dollars into savings account by Friday afternoon of every week.
Activity – Set up automatic deposit from checking account by March 1, 2013. Or write in your calendar that you will deposit the money yourself on Friday’s. Put a big X through the date on the calendar to indicate the task has been completed.
Add additional action steps if needed. Then go online or look in your savings account book and take a peek at how well you are doing. Positive reinforcement.
Setting goals is not hard. Following through is. However, if you have a plan, that provides deadlines and activities, following through becomes easier.
When Shelly turned 50 she kicked off the confines of the job she hated and became the architect of her own life. A Social Worker by education, now she’s a writer, a procurer of ideas and a lover of her life. You can read about Shelly on her personal website.