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setting goals that work!

some suggestions on setting goals that actually work.
As a coach I know the importance of setting your sights on where you want to go, and my clients would agree; however, there seem to be two very different reactions to the idea of 'goal setting'. Some love the concept and eagerly make lists and plan courses of action; others feel trapped and hemmed in, the very words are enough to make them dig their heels in and refuse to play! Both approaches can work, and my two articles in this issue suggest totally different possible strategies to get you focused on what you want to happen.

SMART goal setting

This plan of motivation has been talked about before, but it's a great way to define your goals; when you set them, they must be SMART:

Specific 'your goals will not eventuate if they're vague or ill-defined.

Measurable 'you must be able to evaluate and test your progress.

Achievable 'if they're too far out of sight, beyond the horizon of what you yourself believe is possible, you'll lose confidence and reduce your efforts.

Realistic 'you must believe in yourself, believe that you are capable of achieving your goal.

Time-framed 'there must be a deadline in your mind, a sense of working towards rather than working on something.

Some other suggestions:

1. Write them down: get your goals out of your head and onto paper. Memorize them too, so that if you were asked you could recite them immediately. They need to become a part of you. Use affirmations to keep them in the forefront of your mind on a daily basis, and visualize them too, preferably in a state of relaxation; before falling asleep is a great time. Actually see yourself in the state that you desire, give it energy and passion!

2. Make a choice as to whether or not you talk to others about your plans or keep them private, and then stick to it. Are you' the kind of person who wants support and energy from friends and family to keep motivated, or are you better off conserving that energy? If you do choose to talk to others, make sure in your own mind first that they will be supportive: the last thing you want is to have the tender shoots of your dreams trampled on.

3. Don't go mad and choose too many goals at once, or you will run out of steam; three is often a recommended number, in different areas of your life.

4. Once you've decided on your goals, write them down and then take action on each one in the next 24 hours. You need to get momentum going, or the energy generated by the initial excitement will dissipate.

5. Be persistent! Obstacles will undoubtedly appear that test you; don't give up, keep fixed on what you want, and you will have a strong likelihood of success.

6. A terrific way to create a great future for yourself is to write yourself a letter from the future, as if what you dream for has already arrived. Choose a time anywhere from a few months to a few years ahead, and sit and write, describing your life as you would like it to be. This is a great exercise to do when you're feeling stuck in a rut, as it propels you out of your current state of mind into a more positive frame of reference.

Vision Work

This is the style of future planning that can work beautifully for people averse to goal setting. It's about aiming for new horizons, but also about acceptance and surrender to where and who we are right now. Often the harder we push and struggle, the further away our vision becomes. So try this: simply ask yourself "What makes me happy?"

Often we spend most of our days in activities that have absolutely nothing to do with what we enjoy. As we make our days, so we make our lives, and someone once so wisely asked "What can you do today with your one wild and precious life?" So sit quietly for a few minutes in a favourite place, breathe deeply, and think about what truly connects you with who you are 'not who you will become, but who you are right now. Then imagine the future that you want, and relax into those feelings.

Get an overall sense of your life as you would love it to be; notice the emotions that you want to experience on a regular basis, the sort of people that you'd like in your world, the kind of work you'd wish to do. Then go ahead and make a commitment to yourself that over the next month you'll practise accessing one of those emotions more frequently, or ask someone who you'd like as a friend out for coffee, or look at new employment options. Just take action: like the more specific goal exercises, action is required. As the old saying goes, if you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got...there's no escaping this one!

About the Author
Sarah is a business and life-design coach, working with individuals, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to support them to create more business and profitability, while designing a balanced, fulfilling and fun life.

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