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As a former school teacher, S.M.A.R.T. goals were shoved down our throat. I hated the way that they were so uniform and I found it difficult to use this framework to create goals for my students as well as myself. I guess I just don’t think into such a square box. The steps that I use for goal setting, are easy to apply to everyday life as well as professional aspirations.
5 Steps for Goal Setting
1. Set a long term goal. Whether your long term goal is to buy a house in two years or walk away from your cooperate job, it’s important to write it down. You should also share it with those that you trust. They might think that you are daydreaming, but they’ll know what you are working towards. These long term goals will change as you achieve them so be sure to repeat the process once you’ve achieved the first one. My long term goal was to “retire” from teaching to blog full time and that was set two years ago when my second daughter was born and I realized that I wanted to do what I loved and have the ability to make it flexible to meet the needs of my daughters.
2. Build steps to reach that long term goal. You have to create smaller goals that are a clear path to your long term goal. Each one needs to build towards getting you closer. You have to see those gaps shorten from where you are now to where you want to be. Each short term goal should get you closer. So if you want to purchase a house what short term goals do you need to create in order to get there? Do you need a down payment? How are you going to get that down payment? Cutting your monthly expenses? Getting a second job? You need to know what will get you closer to long term goal in order to create your short term steps.
3. Be ready for skepticism. Sometimes the ones that you love can be the toughest critics and you need to have a thick skin. Goals very often lead to dreams and dreams scare people because often times they don’t like change. They are set in their ways and if it steers away from the norm it is often confusing for them. What is mainstream today, won’t necessarily be mainstream tomorrow. This is especially true if you work in corporate America and are looking to making the leap into being self-employed. Just remember that you are courageous and strong. Your nay sayers will one day eat their words when they’re doing something that they hate and you are living life to the fullest.
4. Talk the talk and walk the walk. If you have a long term goal it means that you are not there just yet and that’s perfectly okay. In order to get there though, you’re going to need to talk the talk and walk the walk. You’re going to need to do your homework and research the techniques and practices that can get you to your long term goal. I am by no means trying to tell you that you should act like a know it all, but you should do your research so that you know more about the topic that is necessary to get you to where you want to be.
5. Surround yourself with those that you emulate or have reached your goal. When I was younger, my mom always said that my friends were a reflection on the type of person that I was. If I had friends that were articulate and responsible then it meant that I was as well because how else would we effectively communicate. If you aspire to something, then you need to find people that have achieved it and learn their language. You need to keep your voice and principles in whatever it is you are choosing to do, but copying someone is still a form of flattery. Find those that you emulate and become friends with them. You’re most likely very similar to them if you have the same long term goals so listen and learn.
Bonus! Don’t ever stop learning. You always want to be a student no matter what age you are. Keep an open mind so that you can gain perspective about yourself. I have learned so much about myself in the past two years. Most importantly though, I have learned that I need to continue to grow as an individual, business owner, mother, and wife.