The year 2020 has been a wild year so far. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down and presented a new reality for all of us. Generally speaking, a “setting goals” blog post would come around January, but this is a different approach to the goal setting genre. The idea that you have to wait until Monday or January 1st to set goals or make plans is a terrible way to get to where you want to be in life. Start now: Tuesday or Friday or whatever day of the week and time of the day it is currently. I mentioned the pandemic because there is no better time for most of us to start fresh and set new goals within the parameters of this new reality we are living in.
The majority of us are at home right now, working remotely, maybe even furloughed or laid off. For some this is all doom and gloom, while others see this as an opportunity to make the best of a bad situation. Whatever situation you are in because of this pandemic, make this your January 1st, or Monday…and start making fresh new goals. Making goals is only the very first step; there is a lot of work to be done after writing a list of goals down on paper. Setting a goal produces and requires hard work to achieve it. Here are some ways you can get good at setting AND achieving goals in life, no matter where you are today.
Set SMART Goals
The reason SMART is all caps is not to drive my point home: it is an acronym. If you haven’t heard of the SMART goals acronym, today is your lucky day. SMART goals stands for goals that are:
Specific – I want to get my CCNA certification. This is a terrible goal example, it is not very specific. A better, more specific example of this goal would be, “I want to learn more about Cisco networking technologies and be able to apply it to my real world work experience. Then after preparing for the exam, I want to pass the exam and become CCNA certified.”
Measurable – In keeping with the CCNA example, a measurable goal would be “I want to study two hours every night, and read XYZ CCNA book cover to cover before sitting for the exam.” That is something you can measure. Did you spend two hours tonight? Measure it, and keep track of it.
Attainable – Is the goal attainable? If you pick up a CCNA book and have never had any IT experience whatsoever, it’s not really an attainable goal without achieving several other goals first. Make sure the goal you get is within reach; you want to be able to achieve it.
Relevant – If you are a network administrator, getting your CCNA certification is a relevant goal to make. It might start with getting the Network+ cert first, or getting more hands on experience, but as a network admin the CCNA would further advance your career.
Time-based – For a goal to be time-based, you need to define how long the goal will take you to achieve. “I want to obtain my CCNA cert in 3 months time.” This is a good example, however I would caution just writing this down without some sort of pressure to drive you to do it. A better time-based approach would be to pay for and schedule the exam for 3 months down the road. This creates a situation where you are working against a deadline and will keep you on track since you have money on the line.
Talk to people about the goals you are setting. For the most part, if you tell someone you have set a goal, they will encourage you and hold you accountable. If you keep it to yourself, no one will know what you are doing, and it makes it easy for you to just give up. Tell a parent, a friend, a coworker, or even your boss. You will find by vocalizing your goals to others, it will keep you focused on achieving it and provide some push from supporters when things get tough, because they will get tough.
Commit and then Keep Going
Making a commitment and keeping it can be hard for some. However, when you make a commitment to a goal and then achieve that goal, you become stronger and more prepared for the next goal. Things will get tough, and when it gets tough you have to be prepared to not give up. Make a commitment and keep going, don’t stop because you want to or you don’t feel adequate. Take time to write in a journal about your goal setting process and your commitments to achieving those goals. Looking back on your journal entries and reading about how you had a tough day and didn’t want to study or do anything but instead you pushed through and put in two hours, that will motivate you to keep going.
Set SMART goals, build a support system, keep pushing when things get tough and remind yourself why you are doing this and you will be successful. When you click the ‘Finish’ button and submit your exam, and then see the result that you passed, it will make it all worth it. You will be inspired moving forward to make more goals and get even better at achieving them. We all have a ton of time on our hands these days, let’s make the best of it.