Sunday, August 25, 2013

6 Characteristics of a Goal

Many of us have ideas of what we want. Those ideas sometimes get interpreted as our “goals”. What’s the difference between having ideas and having goals? There are six characteristics that set an idea apart from a goal.
  1. A goal must be well defined. As the old saying goes, “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” Cut your ‘elephant’ into bite size pieces. For example, instead of “I want to lose weight,” try “I want to weigh 135 pounds.”  Or turn “I want to feel better,” into “I want to have more energy throughout the day.”
  2. A goal must be stated in writing. When you write down your goal, it feels more like a commitment. Write it down and keep it with you to look at often. 
  3.  A goal must be stated in the positive. A positive statement acts as an affirmation that you’re heading in the right direction. It’s always better to look forward to what you’re working toward, than to look back to what you’re running from. Your actions will follow what you’re focused on. Focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want.
  4. A goal must have a deadline. This is another point that turns your goal into a commitment to yourself. With a firm deadline, you can schedule daily and weekly objectives to realistically move you toward completion. If something unexpected comes up that throws you off track, simply adjust the deadline and hop back on the train.
  5. A goal must have sincere emotional appeal. In other words, define your “why”. In order to be successful in meeting your goal, you must truly want it and be doing it for the right reasons. What is that sticking point that will keep you moving forward when it gets difficult?
  6. A goal must be challenging, yet realistic. Remember my article on pushing past your comfort zone? By definition, a goal must challenge you to step outside of the box you normally keep yourself in and improve on your current situation. However, you must be able to see yourself as successful in order to be confident you can get there.
You can live from one day to the next, just doing the necessary things to get by and dealing with issues as they come up. Or you can have well-defined goals for many areas of your life. When it comes to overall wellness, there are many areas you can take a look at and determine where you want to be in a year, 5 years, when your kids are grown… whatever it is for you:
  • You want to look and feel your best when: You take that cruise vacation next summer; Your son/daughter gets married next spring; You go to your 10 year class reunion this fall… (insert any upcoming milestone here).
  • You want to be strong and healthy by the time you’re ready to start a family in three years.
  • You want to be in the best shape of your life when you retire so you can enjoy the traveling you’re planning to do.
  • You want to avoid the health pitfalls you see your parents falling into as they age.
  • You want to be healthy and fit so you can enjoy your children as they grow up.
The time to set goals for your health is now. No matter what stage of life you’re in, set goals for the next one.

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