Set Your GPS for Success
GPS is a life saver. It will point you in the right direction and get you to your destination. But what it is? How does it work? Do you even know what GPS stands for?
If you are thinking Global Positioning System used for navigation, then good guess, but not what I am talking about. GPS for Success is “Goal, Plan, and Steps.” Create a goal, make a plan, and take small steps to accomplish it. I like to think of success as going up a stair case. Setting a goal is the first stair. Having a plan in place to achieve the goal is the second stair. The rest of the stair case is the blood, sweat, and tears of effort to accomplish your goal. That effort is best accomplished in small steps to make continual progress. Big strides or leaps can net you a big gain, but come with the risk of a demotivating fall. A small manageable step will allow you to get a taste for success and build into big gains over time.
Life is more complicated than a simple 2-dimensional stair case, though. There are mountains and bridges, congestion and accidents, dead-ends and one-way streets. You’ll need an accurate GPS to find your way.
Each day, week, month, or year, we can put the past behind us and set new goals or reset old ones. No matter if your goal is big or small, here are a few helpful tips to ensure you have set your GPS for Success.
Where to? - Write your goals down Writing down your goals makes them real and tangible. Instead of keeping your goals in your head, write them down on a piece of paper or in a notebook or journal. Throughout the year, you can reference back to the goals you wrote down to ensure you focus on completing them.
Display the Map - Make your goals visible After you write down your goals, post them in your office, bedroom, or workspace for daily reminders on what you are working towards. Having your goals on display can help ensure they are not forgotten about. Plus, having your goals on display can motivate others. When someone sees it, they can be inclined to help you achieve it, or use it as motivation to set their own goals. You can share them on social media with friends to help keep you accountable, too.
Craft a Detailed Map - Design SMART goals SMART goal setting is technique Paul J. Meyer describes in his book “Attitude is Everything.” Mr. Meyer lays out goal characteristics needed for you to be able to make them a priority and achieve them. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound. Further developing your initial goals into SMART goals is like crafting a detailed map with your starting point and destination, defining where each is and the distance between them. More on SMART goals at the end.
Plot Your Route - Develop your plan and steps You know where you are and where you are going from detailed SMART goal map, but how are you going to get there? After setting your goals, you need to develop a plan to achieve them. A plan outlines the necessary activities, the resources to be allocated, the obstacles to overcome, and for a team goal, how the work will be divided. The plan gives structure, guidance, and direction to everyone involved in achieving the goal. Planning is important for several reasons. It reinforces goals by putting goals in the forefront of your thoughts and daily activities. It allows you to think more future-oriented, discerning beyond the present to project what will happen in the future while coordinating your decisions with their effects on the future. It ensures efficient use of resources. Without planning, resources are often overused or wasted, putting a strain on deadlines and stress levels. Establishing a plan to achieve your goals will develop the steps necessary to reach success, but if the step is longer than your stride, then you could be in for a tumble. You can adjust your goals and plans to have sub-goals and sub-plans to make the steps shorter and more manageable.
Re-Route as Traffic Changes - Modify your goals or plans You may find that after you set your goals and plan to achieve them, things change. While you may need to update your plan to achieve your goals, or even the change goals themselves, stay focused. Obstacles may slow you down, but don’t let them deter you from accomplishing your objectives.
Success can be described like a stair case. Goal setting and planning are the first two stairs with effort in small steps ascending you to the top. We live in four dimensional space-time, which means those stairs are more like mountain with wooded trails, crossroads, shortcuts, hazards, and more, but goal setting, planning, and small steps (our GPS) are still the tool to reach our destination. Write and display your goals, make them SMART goals, make plans, and take small steps to make continual progress. Set your GPS for Success and navigate to a brighter future!
SMART Goals (Specific Measureable Attainable Relevant Time-bound)
The ‘S’ stands for “Specific” stressing the need for a specific goal over a more general one. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must explain exactly what is expected and why is it important.
A specific goal will usually answer the five "W" questions:
• What: What do I want to accomplish?
• Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
• Who: Who is involved?
• Where: Identify a location.
• Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
The ‘M’ stands for “Measurable” stressing the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether you are making progress toward a successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help you stay on track, reach target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.
A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
• How much?
• How many?
• How will I know when it is accomplished?
The ‘A’ stands for “Attainable” stressing the importance of goals that are realistic and within reach. While an attainable goal may challenge you in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true by developing the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them.
An attainable goal will usually answer the question:
• How can the goal be accomplished?
• Are any limits being pushed?
• Is the bar too high or too low?
The ‘R’ stands for “Relevant” stressing the importance of choosing goals that matter. A bank manager's goal to "Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00pm" may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound, but lacks relevance. Many times you will need support to accomplish a goal: resources, a champion voice, someone to knock down obstacles. Goals that are relevant to your boss, your team, your organization will receive that needed support.
Relevant goals (when met) drive the team, department, and organization forward. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal.
A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:
• Does this seem worthwhile?
• Is this the right time?
• Does this match our other efforts/needs?
• Are you the right person?
The ‘T’ stands for “Time-bound” stressing the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the SMART goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.
A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
• What can I do six months from now?
• What can I do six weeks from now?
• What can I do today?