5 guidelines for successful goal setting

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August 14, 2018

I recently finished up a training that has been a pretty big goal of mine since the beginning of the year. In February, I received an email promotion stating that Ramsey Solutions' (Dave Ramsey's company) Financial Coach Master Training was now being offered online. What was once only offered as a 4 day training in Nashville, was now accessible to me all the way in Houston. I knew I wanted to participate in it instantly. 

In order to realistically put this dream into action, I made completing this training a big goal of mine. Now, I've had a lot of goals in my life that have gone unmet, but I did not want to let that happen to this one. In order to ensure the accomplishment Financial Coach Master Training, I followed these 5 practices of setting highly effective goals:

Be specific - When we set goals that are general, we are immediately setting ourselves up for a bit of failure. Goals like, "to lose weight," or "to save money," can feel overwhelming and can easily get lost in the busyness of life. Be specific when setting goals. "I want to lose 5 pounds," or "I want to save $300," will go a lot further as you'll have something specific to work toward. 

Be measurable - Similar to your goals being specific, they also need to be measurable. Losing weight and paying off debt are both pretty measurable as you can physically see the scale numbers going down or the savings numbers going up. But you can also track goals that are not traditionally easy to measure - you just have to figure out what the definition of measurement is for them (and sometimes you figure that out as you're working toward the goal.) For example, when I embarked on following the Whole30 program for the first time, I simply wanted to feel better. At first, I wasn't quite sure what that meant, but as I dug into the program, and actually started to feel better, I realized it meant a variety of things. Sleeping better, fitting into my clothes better, having more energy throughout the day, etc. Effective goals are measurable and there is room to figure out what, in fact, the measurement is.

Be time sensitive - This one seems a bit obvious but if you don't have a timeframe involved, you may never accomplish what you're going for. I'm incredibly deadline oriented and am driven by a looming due date (this is just me saying a bunch of words that really mean I'm a procrastinator.) However, even if waiting until the very last second to complete a task isn't your MO, setting a due date is still incredibly helpful as an end point to work toward. In saving up for the Financial Coaching Master Training, my ideal deadline was "as quickly as possible," but my realistic deadline was within six months. Having a dream timeframe and a realistic timeframe will help keep you moving, but also protect you from feeling like you "failed."

Be written - Writing things down gives them an immense amount of power. Writing your goals down brings them to life a bit more than when they just live in your head. When you write out goals, you are more likely to feel held accountable (which is a good thing!) and to begin taking the action steps to make them happen. Plus, nothing is more fun than going back and looking at a written list of dreams and being able to cross things off. I even wrote about my goal of signing up for Financial Coach Master Training on the blog. Whether you written down privately or publicly, writing your goals down gives them power.

Be yours - Lastly, the goals you are setting need to be yours. You're not setting goals for your mom or your dad, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your dog or your cat. We already have a ton of goals that are set for us by work or volunteer organizations. It's incredibly important to figure out what it is that YOU want to accomplish, and that YOU want out of life. No one else will be doing the work for you, so why let them dictate the end result?

What other tips do you have for setting goals that are effective?