July 6, 2011
Kristine Hodsdon points out that goal setting is part of the human experience and offers a fresh perspective on setting goals.
Athletes set goals to win competitions. Students set goals to graduate. Business owners set goals to increase revenue. From everyday to-do lists to New Year’s resolutions, goal setting is part of the human experience. People have always needed something on which to focus their energy and effort. So if goal setting is so ingrained in our nature, why are most people so bad at it? Perhaps it’s the way we approach it. Try the following ideas to gain a fresh perspective on setting goals.How to get better at setting and reaching goals Size matters.Too many big goals can overwhelm a person. Incorporating the half marathon approach (starting small) helps build the necessary muscles for bigger challenges. Limit big-ticket goals to one or two. Make it personal.Asking, “Why do I want this?” “How will I feel?” and “What will it mean to me?” personalizes goals and makes them easier to achieve.Sharpen your pencil. Priorities become clear when they’re written down. If the goals aren’t worth the time or effort to record, maybe they’re not worth the time and effort to achieve. Create an environment. Your environment can remind you how daily tasks can add up to achieving long-term goals. Use posters, notes, meaningful images, or a computer calendar to create visual reminders.Stay on course. Even Captain Jack Sparrow referred to his maps more than once during a journey. Periodic checking of progress allows for recharting the course or timeline. Put it on the line. Sharing goals in public (family, friends, coworkers, online) means public accountability. Pride can be a great motivator. Get help. Success is always easier to find when one has support. Talking to people about business and personal goals allows them to offer morale and tangible support.Try intentions instead

If you’re still having trouble setting goals, you might want to try a different approach. Recent brain research suggests that it’s not so much the goal itself, but the positive intention that gets people where they want to go. Some people feel goals push them (requiring unsustainable effort), while positive intentions pull them (they’re more efficient and effective).Goals use numbers (pounds lost, sales made, products developed). Intentions bring to light what is personally fulfilling. Positive intention allows us to visualize ourselves (and how we’ll feel) when we’re successful. It eliminates the failure option often associated with the goal achievement process.How to state an intention

If the goal is five new clients by next month, ask, “What will my business be like with the new clients? How will I feel?”Now, state your intention in the present and positive tense. “My business will be prosperous,” becomes “My business is prosperous.” “I will feel successful” becomes “I feel successful.” Attaining new clients means feeling empowered, confident, proud and successful. Focus on the feelings rather than the numbers to welcome and gauge your success.Whether goal setting or intention setting, one thing is clear — success isn’t achieved by accident. Planning ahead is what successful people have always done to get what they want in life.Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BSDirector, RDH eVillage