Today I’d like to discuss the topic of goal setting. For anyone that’s even read the dust cover of a personal development or self-help book this is probably an old and tired topic, however I’m hoping that I might be able to give you new perspective on it which might help you decide what kind of goals you need to set. First let’s get the remedial part of this article out of the way. What makes a good goal? Of all that I’ve read on goals and goal setting I like “SMART” goals the best. It’s easy to remember, straight forward and to the point. Using SMART to analyze your goals will quickly allow you to determine whether you’ve set a legit goal for yourself or just some pie in the sky bullshit. Here is the criteria for a SMART goal:
Just to be crystal clear let’s unpack each of these a bit (I told you the firs part was going to be remedial):
- Specific: If your goal is not clearly defined you are not going to be able to track and measure it. If your goal is vague like “I want to be a better rower”, scrap it.
- Measurable: Measurable usually goes hand in hand with specific and usually but not always needs to have numbers attached to it. “I want to loose 5 kilograms.” or “I want to earn $10,000.“
- Assignable: Who is responsible for it? In this case it’s you but this method works great for setting team goals as well.
- Realistic: Don’t waste your time setting goals that aren’t attainable. Becoming a billionaire is not a realistic goal for next week if you’re currently flipping burgers at McDonald’s. If you have 50 kg to lose this is not a realistic goal for the next month.
- Time-based: Time-based sort of brings us full circle back to “specific” and “measurable”. If you don’t have a deadline you’re basically just jerking yourself off. Set attainable, yet aggressive deadlines. You want to feel like you really accomplished you can be proud of.
Besides setting goals that adhere to SMART criteria, you should set short-term, medium-term and long-term goals so you have milestones by which you can determine whether or not you are on the right path. If you want to become a millionaire by the time you are 35 then you should have weekly, monthly and annual goals for income and savings at the least. If you’re failing to meet your goals you should analyze them them to determine why. Are your goals unrealistic, are you just being lazy, is your time frame too short? Adjust as necessary, rinse, wash and repeat.
SMART Goal Setting and the Peace of Mind Square
Now we can move on to what will hopefully be something new for most of you. Setting goals is great but how do you know what kind of goals you really should be setting? Fitness, getting laid, earning more money, obtaining X material possession (which really boils down to money) must easily comprise >=90% of the goals single dudes set. But is that really what you should be working on? Will that make you a happy, balanced, well-rounded person? The Peace of Mind Square is tool to help you determine this. The philosophy here is that you have four major categories that together comprise your overall well being. Let’s go through them each in detail because some of them have more aspects than you might think.
Physical: This is the most straight forward. This is your health, your physical fitness, the overall condition of your body. Pretty straight forward.
Mental: These are the activities you engage in that depend primarily upon your brain power. For most of us that means our job, hobbies, entrepreneurial projects, so forth and so on.
Emotional: These are your personal relationships and your social life. Girlfriends, friends, family, etc.
Spiritual: Spiritual can mean different things for different people. Obviously if you are religious that is part of the spiritual category, I’m not. For those of us that are not religious this means self-leadership; i.e. how well do you lead yourself through the journey of life. How well do you accomplish what you set out to do?
What you need to do now is self-assess in each of these four categories on a scale of one to ten. Take a moment to really consider this and be as honest with yourself as possible. Now write down your scores. No matter how high or how low the absolute values, is your square lopsided? For example do you give your self 5, 4, 5, 6 or 9, 2, 3, 4. The philosophy here is that you no matter where you fall on the absolute spectrum of possible achievement you will feel happier and more balanced if your life is balanced in these for areas. You could be extremely physically fit but a virtual failure in other areas of your life or you could be very wealthy yet miserable in all other areas of your life.
The philosophy here is that we should try to make ourselves “square” before we strive for high absolute achievement in any one area. With few exceptions I subscribe to this philosophy. A person who is very wealthy yet has no love in his life, no friends, no family, no sense of purpose and poor health will probably be less happy than a guy making $30,000 per year who has a beautiful, loving girlfriend, an active social life, top notch physical fitness and overall excellent health.
Well dudes, in a nutshell, that’s it. You can use SMART criteria to set good goals and you add the Peace of Mind Square to ensure that you are setting the right goals. Before closing this article I should probably mention that this is just one take on the Peace of Mind Square, you can find many others. I am merely paraphrasing the way I learned it. If you like you can certainly give the different sides of your square different labels. What’s important here is the overall philosophy and the concept of trying to find balance in your life rather than blindly chasing more money, more women or bigger muscles.