Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Achieving Your Goals

When setting goals--whether personal or professional--a good technique is to use the SMART goal-setting strategy:

Specific - What exactly do you want to accomplish with all the details?
Measurable - How will you assess your progress and the goal's completion?
Attainable - Given your current life-situation, is your goal within your reach?
Relevant - Will attaining the goal really help you?
Timely - What is the deadline for completing your goal?

If there is something you want or need to do, it may take a brief amount of time to make that goal SMART.

Another very important and often overlooked aspect of achieving your goals is not to do too much at once. In a New York Times article last year, neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang write, "The brain has a limited capacity for self-regulation, so exerting willpower in one area often leads to backsliding in others.... It can be counterproductive to work toward multiple goals at the same time if your willpower cannot cover all the efforts that are required. Concentrating your effort on one or at most a few goals at a time increases the odds of success."

So why can't you learn a new language, keep a new exercise regimen, change your eating habits, and learn to play the piano all at once? Because God did not design your brain for that level of multitasking.

Gal Josefsberg writes in his blog on fitness, "I wanted to accomplish everything the first week. I had an exercise plan, an eating plan, a plan to cut down on sodas, a plan to jog more and a plan to come up with more plans. It was crazy. I split my will power and focus among so many things that there was no chance of me being successful at any of them." He calls it "The Big Bang Theory." It rarely works. When he cut the list down to one or two at a time, he had much more success.

What goals do you want to accomplish? Write them all down, and then trim the list to a few or even just one. Make it a SMART goal. And then get started!

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