Resolutions are abundant this time of year, and are quite common for those pursuing higher education. Going beyond simple resolutions and setting realistic goals, ones that stick, is far more powerful and beneficial. Goal setting is more than going through the motions; it’s about getting focused and achieving results.
The most logical first step when setting goals is self-reflection. Adjust your thinking in order to define where you are now, what you want to do and how you intend to get there. Set goals that motivate you, and more importantly, be honest with yourself. For example, if your goal is a career change, can you make it happen with your current level of education or do you need to go back to school? And, be sure to write down the “what,” “why” and “how” of each goal as a guide and a benchmark.
A tried and true way to ensure you’re setting achievable goals is to apply the S.M.A.R.T. criteria. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives (MBO) concept.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are ones that are:
Setting goals in this manner is smart, indeed, as it provides focus, and can ultimately shape our dreams. In his Success.com article, “4 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals,” the late Jim Rohn wrote: “Goals are great because they cause us to stretch and grow in ways we never have before. In order to reach our goals, we must become better.”
Another mechanism of successful goal setting is postulated by James Clear, an author and expert on behavioral psychology, habit formation and performance improvement. Clear writes that “having a goal is the easy part; everyone wants to achieve goals.”
According to Clear, “The real challenge is not determining if you want the result, but if you’re willing to accept the sacrifices required to achieve your goal.” Accepting the tradeoffs that come with our goals can be the difference.
With these powerful tenets in mind, you can move beyond random resolutions and set galvanizing goals to transform your life. Weight loss? Don’t just shed pounds, but rather commit to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Debt reduction? Don’t just pay off your student loans, but rather create a budget to focus on money management. Personal growth? Don’t just attend a seminar, but rather pursue a degree.
And here’s the proverbial icing on the cake when it comes to goal-setting: Defining effective goals is not just a helpful life tool. According to New York Times best-selling author, Michael Hyatt, some experts claim it is a prerequisite for happiness. In fact, psychological research has shown that people who make consistent progress toward meaningful goals live happier more satisfied lives.
That’s powerful information, right? Perhaps enough to make goal-setting one of your goals that stick. At Cleveland University-Kansas City, we’re committed to helping our students succeed. Contact us today to get started!