This weeks guest writer is my very good friend Vicky Jensen. In one year she lost an incredible 100lbs, which she attributes to her hard work and her ability to set and meet her individual goals. You can follow her on twitter @
We all know that goal setting is good. We have heard it our whole lives.”Set goals!” “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” “What are your goals in life?” The concept isn’t new and it is definitely not unique. Goals keep you focused, they propel you forward, they hold you accountable. We can all agree – goals are important. Goals get stuff done.
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.
There’s one thing I need to make clear though about goals. Goals aren’t visions. A vision is NOT a goal. A vision by definition is a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination. A vision is the where you want to go, the what you want to see, the what you want to have, the how you want to feel. Your vision is about your destination. In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, envisioning is step number two.
2 – Begin with the End in Mind. Envision what you want in the future so that you know concretely what to make a reality.
But, goals are your path. Goals answer the questions – When? How? How much? Goals are the steps we need to take to achieve our vision. It’s the daily goal making and goal achieving that create the path to where we want to end up.
It’s so easy to set goals that look something like this –
I’m going to lose 50 pounds.
I’m going to get a better job.
I’m going to clean my house.
Those actually seem pretty great and quite reasonable. This is the deal though – you can’t wake up the next morning and lose 50 pounds. It’s impossible. Waking up the next morning and thinking “I’m going to get a new job today!” is daunting. A goal needs to be as specific and as simple as possible. Tomorrow I’m going to eat 1500 calories or tomorrow I’m going to drink 8 glasses of water. Tomorrow I’m going to send out 5 resumes. Tomorrow I’m going to clean out the fridge. I actually learned the skill of goal setting quite young. From kindergarten to 7th grade I went to a private school where the work we did was independent and self-directed. At the end of every day, we had to “set our goals” for the next day. This basically meant we had to write down how many pages we intended to complete in each of our workbooks so when the next day came around we had our plan for the day. This taught me that:
1. Completing goals feels good. It’s satisfying. Checking off something you accomplished that day feels freaking good no matter how small.
2. You have to set your own goals. A teacher didn’t swoop in to tell me what I needed to do the next day. I decided what I wanted to do. Completing a task because someone else tells you to do it or suggests you should isn’t a goal. That becomes THEIR idea for your life – not yours. Goals are 100% self-directed and self-fulfilled.
3. Goals HAVE to be realistic. When learning to set goals as a kid I would often think “Oh ya, I will totally do ten pages in a workbook tomorrow” only to learn the next day that it just wasn’t going to happen. You probably won’t run forty-five minutes straight your first day running whether or not you set that as your goal. Try two minutes. Baby steps.
4. It has to be a HABIT. Every day when I get to work I decide what I want to get done that day – even if NOTHING else gets done besides that. I do it now without even thinking about it. Some people like to write lists or notes. Do what works for you but do it daily.
I recently lost over one hundred pounds. I’m not “there” yet but I have a vision of who I want to be, how I want to look and more importantly how I want to feel. This vision is great and good and it is exactly what I need but I can’t stop at the vision. My vision needs to inspire me to take action. Looking back at the year it took me to lose the majority of that weight, I realize it was a compilation of goal setting and goal completing that got me there. The times I decided I was going to go for a long walk the next day and I actually went for that long walk the next day. The goal of “I’m going to lose 100 pounds” is too vague. It’s huge and it’s not tangible. But what I could do was go for that walk.
The discipline you learn and character you build from setting and achieving a goal can be more valuable than the achievement of the goal itself. – Bo Bennett
Written by Vicky Jensen