Simple and S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting Strategies

Today is Monday, January ¬†30, 2012. And unless I’m mistaken, more than three-quarters of you have already given up on all those New Year’s resolutions you made 30 days ago. (C’mon admit it. That gym membership is eating a hole in your credit card right now.)

Photo by hotelcasavelas2 on Flickr

What is it about setting goals that makes it so hard for people to stick to them? Part of it is just laziness. But another part has to do with the fact that people usually don’t approach the process of setting goals in a way that sets them up for success. Today I want to cover two ways for setting goals that will aid you in achieving them.

Keep It Simple with Seth

Here’s a goal-setting strategy I’ve started using that I’ve actually been able to keep up. It’s called “Pick Four.” It was created by best-selling author and marketer Seth Godin and it’s based on world-renowned motivational speaker, author and salesman Zig Ziglar‘s goal-setting strategy. It’s so simple.¬†Seth mentions in the foreword of the booklet that this goal-setting strategy was key in turning his life around when he was down-and-out and broke.

  • First you go through a process of creating an exhaustive list of every possible goal you’d want to set in a year.
  • You narrow that list.
  • Then you narrow it a little more.
  • Then you narrow it to four goals you want to go after. Zig’s original method was based on six. Seth reconfigured it to four to fit into today’s internet-speed, A.D.D. world.
  • Then for each of those goals you write out why that goal is important and what it will do for you if you achieve it.
  • Then you start tracking your progress each weekday for 12 weeks.
  • Each day has a motivational quote from Zig to keep you going.
  • On the weekend, instead of tracking your goals, you write about your highlights for the week, what didn’t work, and what you learned from what didn’t work.

The key to its effectiveness is the daily tracking. Each day you log everything you did that day that inched you closer to your goal, then you circle “yes” or “no” to answer the question “Was it enough?” This is where the rubber hits the road. That daily tracking makes a big difference in easing you closer and closer. If you go day after day writing “Nothing” for a particular goal, it makes you want to do SOMETHING…ANYTHING to creep closer.

It’s important to pick goals that really resonate with you. I picked four that cover various areas of my life. I picked the following:

  1. A revenue goal
  2. A blog goal
  3. A spiritual goal, and
  4. A filmmaking goal

I strongly considered having a health goal too, but honestly, I knew it wasn’t as important to me right now as these four. That doesn’t mean I won’t strive to eat better, sleep more and exercise more. It just means that for now it’s not one of the goals I’m tracking. The process only lasts for 12 weeks. At that time you can pick four more, or continue with the same four.

If you’ve ever had problems sticking with a goal, I strongly suggest it.

Be S.M.A.R.T.

The other popular goal setting technique is one I’m sure many of you have read about at some point. (If you’ve read my book ReFocus, you definitely have heard about it). Nevertheless, it always bears repeating. Your goals need to be S.M.A.R.T.

Specific: don’t just make as your goal “Increased revenue.” Make the goal “A 25% increase in first quarter revenue over last year.”

Measurable: revenue is something you can measure. Other measurable examples could be: new clients, weight lost, blog views, etc.

Attainable: it must be something that is realistic for you to achieve. Going from $100,000/year to $1,000,000 in one year is most likely not going to be an attainable goal.

Relevant: it must be pertinent and important to you enough to make it a goal. What will this goal mean to you personally or professionally?

Timely: set a time period to achieve the goal (e.g. 3 months, 6 months, one year, etc.)

Click here to download a pdf worksheet you can fill out and put up on your wall or desk to remind you each day of your goals.


Lastly, I want to mention the importance of accountability. Whether it’s a spouse, employer, business partner or colleague, find someone who will hold you accountable in your goal setting. If left to your own whims, chances are you Pick Four booklet will look as empty as that gym in the opening photo above.

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