One of the most challenging matters in setting and achieving our goals is not how we write down our goals but in the execution. Writing your goals and saying what you want to achieve is easy. The difficult part comes when you need to execute and take action on your goals. And this is how this goal setting checklist can help you when it comes to sticking to your plan of action.
When you think about achieving your goals and living the successful life that you want, be it at work or in your business, to reach your goals, it requires some behavioral change.
For instance, if your goal is to lose weight and you are someone who doesn’t exercise often, then to achieve this goal, it needs you to change your habits and behavior.
The same goes for every other goal that you want to achieve. To get a different result, you need to do something different, right?
Thus, you have to change your habits and behavior if you want to accomplish your goal. There is no way you can stay thin and fit if you don’t exercise and you constantly put in junk food into your body.
And this is why most people fail to produce the results that they want. They don’t change. They set goals, but fundamentally, they don’t change much of their habits and behavior.
They don’t take the necessary action (change) to get the results that they want.
So what do you need to do to help you with the execution? Well, use this goal setting checklist. Make sure all of your goals have these 7 elements before you commit to achieving them.
These 7 elements are meant to inspire you, guide you, and help you transform to become the person worthy of your goals.
In other words, these elements drive you to change your habits and when done right, they can motivate you to take action and execute your plans.
The first element in this checklist is to make sure that you set a goal that is winnable. You don’t want to set a goal that you cannot win.
The reason is simple. When you don’t believe that you can achieve your goal, why even bother about taking action, right? So make sure your goals are winnable.
When you set a goal that is unrealistic and that you can’t win, you will self-sabotage even before you begin taking action. You won’t play it full-out and you attempt it half-hearted.
The key to setting a winnable goal is control. You must believe that reaching your goal is within your capability. Without this element, stress increases, and your motivation will be faded.
Nobody wants to play a game that they can’t win.
Let me give you an example. If you are working for someone else and are earning a salary of $5,000 a month, and you set a goal to earn $20,000 a month, highly likely, you are going to fail at this goal.
The reason is simple – you are playing a game that you can’t win.
And when you don’t see any way you can win, you will never go for it with 100% commitment.
Who’s in control of your salary? Your boss, not you. And when you don’t have control, your motivation will plummet.
On the other hand, if you are running your own business and you set the exact same goal to earn $20,000 a month, do you think this the goal is possible now?
Yes. This is your business, you are the boss and you are in control. You can do things to grow your business to reach your goal.
For instance, you can work harder, extend your business operating hours, raise the price, create a new product/service package, create a new royalty program, develop a better marketing campaign, etc, etc.
There are many things you can do. Plus, in business, earning $20,000 a month is very possible.
Therefore, this gives you a sense that your goal is winnable. And when you can see the hope, you believe in it, you will put yourself into execution and act on your goal.
This is the element that your goal must have.
The second element you must consider in this checklist is specificity. Tony Robbins is right when he said, “Clarity is power”.
The more specific you are with your goals, the more likely you are going to act on them.
There was a flu shot vaccination study done in a big company. The researchers looked at a group of 3,272 employees and discovered that when the employees wrote down the specific date and time to receive the vaccination, they are more likely to follow through weeks later.
In other words, when you are specific with the date, time and what you want to do, you are more likely to do it.
This same principle can be applied to your goal so that you can become more likely to follow through and execute on your goal.
When you give a specific date, time and action to your mind, you remember it better and hence, your execution rate increases.
So this is why most people tell you that your goal needs to be specific. The more specific, the better.
And this element is even more important when it comes to your tactics or your action steps. You must be absolutely clear with your actions and when you are going to do it.
So write down your goals with clarity. And when it comes to the action steps, you can write them in this format:
“I will ACTION (exercise) for at least TIME (45 minutes) on DATE (Tuesday) in my local gym.”
The key is to make your action step specific. Include your action (what you will do), the date, the time, and where you will do it.
Remember, the more specific you are with your action steps, the more likely you are going to do it.
Another important element of your goal is to make it measurable.
First, when you are being specific and you follow through the above step to state your goal in a specific action step with a date and time when to act on it, you are well on your way.
But there is another important key in measuring your goal. And that is to measure your progress.
Most people understand that they have to make their goals measurable. And they include numbers into their goals.
However, they don’t measure their progress, which is critically important.
How can you tell if you are moving forward or backward when you don’t measure your progress, right? You can’t tell if what you do is correct.
This is why it is vital to measure your progress. Plus, if you can’t tell your progress, you will never know if you are winning.
Again, you want to play a game that you can win. If you can’t tell if you are winning or losing, you will lose your motivation to play the game.
Measuring your progress gives you a sense that you are moving forward. And this feeling motivates you.
Everybody loves the sense of winning and making progress. Even if it is just a small win like getting a free coffee.
In a study done at Columbia University, the researchers distributed a free coffee reward card to the students there. One group received a card that required 10 stamps to redeem a free coffee, while another group receives a 12-stamp card with 2 bonus stamps already on it.
Both groups required the same 10 stamps to receive a free coffee. But guess which group reaches the goal faster? The second group with the 2 stamps as bonus won their free coffee 20% faster than the other group.
In other words, when you see progress and when you see that you are moving forward, you are more motivated to take action.
So here’s what you can do in this checklist. Create a scoreboard for your goal and start to measure your progress. How do you do so? Read this article:
Next, make your goals actionable. This is easy to understand, but sadly, most people don’t include this element in their goals.
They write down their goals like, “I want to be rich”, “I want to be happy”, or “I want to lose weight”. These goals are vague and they are not actionable.
Even if you include a number like losing X pounds or earning X amount of money, it doesn’t make your goal actionable.
An actionable goal has the characteristic where you can act on the goal. There is ‘action’ in the goal; something you can do.
For example, when you set a goal to lose 10 pounds in 2 months, you must also include actionable steps. You can’t just let your goal ‘hanging’ nowhere in your brain.
While you have a target of losing 10 pounds in 2 months, but you are not telling your mind what it needs to do to get there.
Therefore, include an action plan in your goal. Write down the things that you can do to reach the goal, such as:
- Go for jogging every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7AM to 8AM in the local park.
- Drink a cup of lemon water every morning once get up from the bed.
- Hit the gym and workout for an hour every Saturday at 9AM.
These are the actionable steps that you can actually act on. If you don’t have an actionable plan for your goal, you will never know what to do.
And when you are not giving specific instructions to your mind, you will end up doing nothing.
If you want to achieve your goal, make sure it has a deadline. Can you set a goal without a deadline? Yes, you can. But when are you going to achieve it? Well, the common response is, “I don’t know”.
Strategic deadlines are there to help you move closer to your goals. Besides giving you a sense of progress and accomplishment, deadlines are also important because they hold you accountable for the goals that you set.
More importantly, a goal with a specific time-bound allows you to come up with the right action plan.
Think about it, the same goal with a different deadline will give you a completely different strategy.
For instance, to earn $100,000 in a month requires a completely different strategy than to earn $100,000 in a year.
Simply put, to earn $100,000 a month, you need to build a business system and you need to leverage on a team. You need to have a solid product/service line and a proper business in operation.
What about earning $100,000 in a year? Well, many salespeople are earning this amount of money. They don’t need a big team to do it. And often, they can do it by themselves. Many real estate and insurance agents are making this amount of money in a year.
Thus, your goal will determine your action plan. And when you include a time frame for your goal, you are telling yourself what kind of strategy you need to use.
Deadlines make your goals specific and they help you narrow-down your strategy.
6. The Challenge
Of all the goal setting checklist, this is the most underrated one. When you set a goal, you have to make sure it is challenging enough to motivate you.
Setting a goal that is too easy to achieve turns off your motivation. And setting a goal that is too difficult will give you the same result.
Hence, you need to follow the Goldilocks’ Rule.
The rule states that your motivation peaks when you are doing something that is not too easy nor too difficult. A task or a target that is challenging enough drive you to achieve is the best.
Imagine playing tennis with the professionals. If you are just a beginner, there is no way you can win. It makes the match too difficult for you and you will quickly lose the motivation because you can’t win.
Conversely, if you are a professional tennis player and you are playing against a complete beginner, it makes the match too easy for you. This too, will kill your motivation to perform.
Thus, make the match somewhere in between – make your goal challenging enough to drive you into taking action.
The final element you need to consider in your checklist is the reward. In other words, why do you want to achieve your goal? What are the things that you will get from reaching your goal?
The reward you receive from accomplishing your goal can be an important factor to boost your motivation.
While it is true that rewarding yourself when you reach your goals can boost your motivation, you must do it in the right way.
For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds by doing daily runs, and when you have achieved this goal, you reward yourself with a short travel holiday.
Now, this is a great reward, but is it the ‘right’ reward? Perhaps, but you can make it even better by rewarding yourself with something that will encourage the habit. Like rewarding yourself a Nike or Adidas shoe.
Gretchen Rubin, the blogger and author of the best-selling book, Better Than Before (a book I recommend you read) mentioned in the book that it is better to choose a reward that will encourage you to take even more action for your goal.
Here’s an example:
If you are a blogger and you successfully achieved your goal of writing and publishing an article to your blog each day consistently for a month, you can reward yourself with a Bose headphone or a new Mac Book.
Both rewards will encourage your habit to create more content as a blogger.
If you reward yourself with a holiday, which is a great reward, but it may not encourage or help you with the writing habit.
Thus, choose the right reward that will make you want to take more action or help you achieve your goal faster and easier.
These are the 7 elements you need in your goal setting checklist. Without them, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Remember, goal setting can be simple, but it may not be easy because what truly determines if you are going to achieve your goal is your execution.
And to take action and execute on your plan, you must make sure your goals fulfill the 7 elements in this checklist.