Set yourself a goal. It’s almost a bit of a buzz-word really, I’m working towards my ‘goal’, I’ve set myself a ‘goal’ etc.
How many of you actually achieve your goals? How many of you set a fabulously exciting goal and after a few days, weeks or months it seems too hard, too far away or you start finding reasons why it can’t happen.
Part of the reason this can happen is when the goal is not realistically set or is not structured in a way to best support you. This can lead to the understandable cycle of excitement followed by disappointment at not being able to achieve what you’ve set out to do.
Here are my three rules of setting a goal.
1 – Make it ACHIEVABLE!
I don’t know about you but when I let my mind wander I come up with all sorts of wonderful ideas. Awesome plans unfold in my mind as I’m driving or out walking. I like to think big and I like to think of possibilities way into the future. This is a great thing to do but in so far as setting a goal out of those particularly lofty thoughts, probably not destined to succeed. The primary reason these sorts of goals fail is they’re not achievable in the short term.
Let’s say your ultimate goal is to ride dressage at the Olympics. That’s a fantastic goal! If you’re currently competing at a Preliminary or First Level it’s a VERY long way away. The goal is still achievable and certainly worth holding onto but you’re going to have to break it down into smaller, stepping stone goals to get the big one. It’s just the same as if your goal is around a confidence issue. If your goal is to be able to canter out on a trail ride and you’re worried about getting on your horse, you need to make the cantering goal the final destination and other, smaller goals the journey to get there.
The best goals are those that are achievable within three to four months. That’s a good amount of time to make progress and put plans in place and you always have the finishing line in sight. It really works to have your grand plan out there and then realistic shorter-term goals as the stepping-stones to that grand plan.
2 – Make it MEASURABLE!
The next roadblock that often comes up is people don’t make their goal something they can measure. Having a goal along the lines of ‘to be happy cantering’ is a great one but how do you really measure that? A better way to measure that goal could be to canter up a hill on a trail ride with a friend, or to complete a dressage test with a canter circle in it. There’s an end point to the goal. You get to the top of that hill or you finish that test and you’ve done it! Other great ways to measure goals are around getting marks above a certain percentage in dressage tests or to jump a clear round at a certain height for jumping. The most important thing is that there’s a recognisable point where you can say, DONE!
We also want to be able to measure our goal as we’re on the way to it. Ensure you take the time to map out your goal and the steps you’ll take to achieve it so you can check things off along the way. You may have checkpoints for each week or each month to make sure you’re on track to the main goal!
3- Make it KNOWN!
To make your goal known to others is to make it real. The people you tell will start to ask how the goal’s going, if they can help and so on. Making it known can be as small as telling one person. Your coach, your partner, your friend. It doesn’t have to be about making a Facebook post to tell the world. Having someone you confide in about your fears and roadblocks around the goal can be of immeasurable assistance and you’ll also know there’s someone interested in how you’re going or even someone you’re accountable to. It’s also lots of fun to have someone to celebrate with when you reach your goal!
4 – REWARD yourself!
You’ve reached the goal you’ve set. To make it you’ve worked really hard. How are you going to reward yourself? Take the time to celebrate it and acknowledge your achievement. The celebration doesn’t have to take any extravagant form, unless you want it to of course! Make sure you take the time to recognise your hard work, celebrate in a way that’s meaningful to you. Buy yourself something special or spend a day doing something indulgent, whatever works for you but make sure you mark the occasion!
I love helping people set goals and then coaching them through the process. I think I’m just as chuffed as they are when they achieve the goal! How a goal is structured is just as, if not more, important than the goal itself. When I help people set goals it’s set with my full confidence they’ll achieve that goal, even if they may feel a little bit like they can’t. I great goal should make you feel a little bit scared of being able to reach it. It should push you out of your normal comfort zone but it should also be something you can achieve. The excitement and satisfaction when you tick it off the list is worth all the hard work, I promise.
If you’re interested in setting some goals and being coached towards them I’d love to talk to you. You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org . There’s also 25% off all phone/Skype/email coaching products until May 31 2012 so get in quick!