Well New Year’s was three weeks ago. Anybody having any trouble keeping up with their resolutions? I know some people have forgotten their resolutions, or at least put those resolutions on the back burner indefinitely. Why is this something that we see every year? My guess is it has to do with setting goals.
When it comes to setting goals, there are 2 main ways that I usually seen people talk about goals, in a prescriptive list, or as a descriptive dialogue. Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Today, let’s take a look at what I call the prescriptive list.
First off, I want to say that this method has a lot of variations and ways that it is encountered, but for the sake of brevity, I will give you the main gist. This method typically uses the acronym SMART to choose goals that are right for you. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Basically it’s to make sure that your goal isn’t vague (don’t say I want to bench more, tell us how many pounds you want to add to it), can you track your progress, is your goal actually possible, and in what time do you want to do it. Using this, we can have a list of goals such as this.
-Gain 10lbs of muscle by next year
-Run a 5k in 17minutes by July 1st
-Increase sales for this quarter by 10%
-Write one blog post a week for two months
-Play the guitar solo for [insert song name] at full speed by next month
And so on. The goals are related to what you want to accomplish and where you currently are now. It’s nice because you have a list that you can cross things off of (and who doesn’t like that?) as well as you are making goals that are easy to keep track of and you know exactly what you are trying to do. I use a list to help me keep track of what I want to accomplish daily, monthly, and yearly.
One problem some people have is that they either pick goals that are too hard or goals that are too easy. If you know that you don’t have the time for it, don’t make a goal to write a whole book in 3 months; either give yourself more time or decide that you’ll have complete three chapters in 3 months.
On the flip side, if you can already run a mile in 10 minutes, don’t make a goal to run a 9 minute mile by the end of the year. You can do it in less time. Giving yourself way too much time makes it easy for you to put off the goal until later. By the time you finally run that mile for the first time, you could’ve already shredded your time down to 7 minutes.
Another problem is related to flexibility. Having that list for some people seems like the goals are set in stone. No one wants to change the sacred list. However, if one day you realize that you set a goal that isn’t related to what you want to do or you realize the time frame needs to be longer, you may resent it to the point of quitting, and if you can quit one of the goals on the list, why can’t you quit all of them?
This problem can actually be prevented pretty easily. When you plan your goals, how are you planning them? You need to see what goals you want to accomplish in the long-term. Because if you set goals for the short-term only, this is where you run into this problem of realizing midway through a goal that you don’t care for it anymore.
This like when an overweight person who is tired of being overweight sees a picture of a body builder and decides he wants that huge muscular body. So naturally, he makes the resolution to get the Arnold body. However, maybe a few months into it he realizes that he doesn’t actually care to be jacked, he just wants a slimmer body. If he doesn’t change his goal and still works out like a body builder, he may just quit altogether. Instead if he just starts training for a slimmer, healthier body, he has more motivation to complete the training because he knows that is in-line with what he wants.
While I like the prescriptive list for short-term and some medium-term goals, I am not a fan of solely using this method for long-term goals, more on that later. We will look at what I call the descriptive method of goal setting for the next post.
Key Takeaways for Prescriptive List
-Make sure you can measure and keep track of the goal
-Be sure the goal is reasonable and attainable
-Give a time frame for when you will complete the goal
-Use for short-term and medium-term goals
-Use to sum up long term goals