Setting SMART Long Term Goals


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by Jayaram V

Having goals and working for them is a powerful way to find direction, success and fulfillment in life. It is through clear and sharp goals that you lead a purpose driven life and bring control and order into an otherwise chaotic and uncertain life. There are many types of goals. In this discussion we focus mainly on long term goals

Successful people use goals to regulate their lives. They know where they want to be one year from now and ten years from now. Many people are reluctant to set goals in their lives because they do not want to subject themselves to a rigid framework of goals and actions, losing their freedom and spontaneity, and deal with the pressures and expectations it creates. But goals are important and necessary to achieve success in life.

By creating powerful goals, you can change your life forever. Your goals expand your vision and keep you motivated. When you feel challenged by them, they bring out the best in you, and help you transcend your own limitations and weaknesses to realize your true potential and competence. As you get into the habit of achieving your goals, they build your self-esteem and self-confidence and push you to your limits.

Goals have the potential to make an ordinary person extraordinary and the impossible possible. They can transform your dreams and desires into reality. If there is one sure way to achieve success it is this: create well defined goals and live for them, as if nothing else exists. Think of them constantly, day and night and saturate your mind with the thoughts of reaching them, no matter what the challenges are.

Everything becomes possible for those who live with such an attitude. Neither loneliness nor boredom nor failure can stop them. Like soldiers in the battlefield of life, they march on, undaunted by the challenges lying ahead, with their gaze firmly fixed on the target, flexible but firm, realistic but determined and positive but well prepared

Every success and accomplishment in life begins with a definite aim. Success is not the result of luck or chance, but mostly an organized effort, in which luck and chance augment the effort. When you do not have well defined goals, you squander many opportunities that come your way. You ignore your true potential and waste away your talents and skills or use them for mediocre work, never giving yourself a chance to truly excel, which only add to your misery and feelings of emptiness. Without goals, a writer would probably end up as a teacher and a player as a spectator.

We should not only have goals but the right ones that are truly in alignment with what we are and what we want to achieve in our lives. Following are some important suggestions for setting effective lifetime goals that would lead you and inspire you to test your limits and realize your dreams.

1. Align your goals with your life's main purpose

When it comes to setting lifetime goals, you have to follow a two step process. In the first step, you find out the true purpose of your life and in the second, you set your goals to make it possible. It is not easy to find the true purpose of your life, because you have to involve your heart as well your mind to know exactly what drives your passions and emotions and what you ultimately cherish in your life, setting aside your lopsided beliefs and deep seated prejudices. You will come to know the true purpose of your life by doing some serious introspection, sometimes for days, and knowing the following.

- What you like most.

- What you value most.

- What you think most of the time.

- What you desire strongly.

- What you admire in other people.

The two step process in setting goals is important for success in your life. When you know the purpose of your life, you can organize your life around it and put your goals and resources into action. You can prioritize your goals and devise suitable action plans to accomplish them.

Your life's purpose is central to everything in your life. It is better to have some purpose in life, even if it is defective, rather than having no purpose at all. You may set goals without knowing it and without any correlation to it, but chances are you may not enjoy what you do and you may not feel totally committed to your goals.

2. Make your goals clear and specific.

To use the project management terminology, make your goals SMART, that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. There are definite advantages in creating and using SMART goals, which are described below.

Firstly, your mind is likely to react more definitively and pointedly to clear and specific goals. They help your subconscious mind to form a clear picture of what is to be manifested. Thirdly with clear and specific goals, you can draw more accurate and precise action plans and work upon them with greater clarity and understanding. Fourthly, if others are involved, you can let them know clearly what you expect from them and what exactly they should do. Lastly, with them, you will be able to measure your success and your performance more accurately and make necessary adjustments on your way to realizing them.

3. Make your goals sound positive

Your goals should be not only SMART but also positive, because you will reach your goals, not by avoiding something, but by doing something specific and concrete. Besides, your subconscious mind has to be kept free from any possible confusion that may arise from negative thinking. If you tell your subconscious mind what you don‘t need or want, very likely it will manifest it, because it does not understand the negative words in your commands. So make sure that you define your goals positively and that they remind you of what you need to do, rather than what you don‘t. Frame them in such a way that they inspire and energize not only you but also those who hear about them or work with you to realize them.

4. Prioritize your goals

Not all goals are equally important. Nor you can accomplish them all at the same time. When you have multiple goals aligned to a central purpose, you have to prioritize them according certain criteria, such as their relative importance, complexity, urgency, dependency and so on. When a goal is dependent upon another, you may have to work on the latter first, before you begin to work on it. Prioritization will help you in establishing specific time frame for each of your goals. It will also enable you to use your limited resources effectively and minimize resource conflicts.

Source: Reproduced partially from the article, "Wokring With Long Term Goals" from the book Think Success by Jayaram V. You may purchase this book from our online store

Suggestions for Further Reading

About Think Success: In 44 well written articles presented in this books, you are introduced to a treasure trove of transformational wisdom. By following the suggestions given in this book, you can achieve success and happiness and live. It is written by Jayaram V, author of several books and hundreds of essays about Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Spirituality and Self-help. This book is currently available at our Online Store (for residents of USA, Canada, UK and some other countries only).

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