Best advice tells us that if we want to achieve what we desire we need to set goals. But how many goals have you set yourself over the years that you have failed to achieve? The answer for most people is they have failed in just as many as they have achieved. There are lots of reasons for this, and the 7 golden rules are there to combat most of them

1) Write it down, share it with others and get accountability

If you want to achieve something you need to get started, good intentions never achieved anything. Step one is actually write the goal down, along with the first action. Step two is telling other people what you are planning to do, this commits you mentally to actually doing it and introduces an expectation from other people that you are doing it. Choose people who will be interested enough to check up on your progress. Embarrasment of not taking action is a fantastic motivator.

2) Make your goal SMARTER

But what exactly do you write down? Goal setting needs to have structure, so what you write needs to be SMART; I even go one step further and make them SMARTER:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Time bound
  • Exciting
  • Relevant / Results Focussed

All of these work together to help make the goal a reality. If your goals aren’t SMART you are only fooling yourself. Want to know more about setting SMART goals? Take a look here.

3) Do things differently

Its not just about goal setting, you need to think about the changes you need to make to achieve the goal. If you keep doing the same things you will keep getting the same results. This doesn’t just mean building an action plan. Doing things differently means getting outside of what’s currently comfortable, changing your routine and developing new habits. This isn’t an easy process but there are tools around that help. I love the concept of tiny habits, where you start by giving yourself a daily task that is so easy that its really hard not to do it, especially if you link it to a trigger event.

4) Develop your strengths, not your weaknesses

The traditional annual appraisal in the workplace usually ends up identifying some stuff you aren’t good at and putting a development plan in place to improve. I firmly believe this is the wrong approach. Developing your strengths is much easier than sorting out your weaknesses, and for the same effort you are likely to get a far greater return. You can always surround yourself with other people who can do the stuff you aren’t good at much better than you ever will.

Don’t know what your strengths are? It’s easy to find out. In fact when your setting yourself goals the more you know about yourself the better. Start by buying the book Strengthsfinder 2.0 from Gallup and doing the online test that comes with it. If you want to go deeper then Kolbe A will show you your conative skills. Want to know more about how others see you? look at how to fascinate.

5) Focus on less

Being involved in too many different things is a classic reason for lack of progress. You can move a mile in a hundred different directions or move a hundred miles in one. The need to focus has been one of my biggest learning points, and I shared my experiences in the last post, Focussing Goals on What Really Matters

6) Unique abilities

Even when you focus in on the few things you really want to achieve, don’t kid yourself you can do it all yourself. You need to make sure you concentrate as much of your own effort to the things that really add value. Learn to delegate and outsource. There will be stuff you will still need that you suck at. Get someone else to help. There will also be stuff you hang on to doing because you do have an aptitude for it, but its still stopping you concentrating on the

7) Balance

We’ve talked about focus, and generally less is more. That doesn’t mean you go all out for just one goal at the expense of everything else. Remember the house built upon sand? It falls over when the first storm comes along. Build your house on rock. If your goal is a big business goal don’t forget the personal stuff. Your own development, your well being, the people around you. Goal setting must include balance and to do this you need some holistic goals. These need to take account of all your needs not just your ambitions.