What’s the best way to set a goal?
1) Write down your goal.
Example A: My goal is to get ahead at work.
Example B: My goal is to lose some weight.
2) Ask yourself, “How will I know when I have succeeded?” Describe the moment when you will know that you have reached your goal.
Example A: I will know I have gotten ahead when my boss tells me that I’m getting promoted to director.
Example B: I will know that I have lost weight when I can fit into my size-eight jeans.
3) Go back and rewrite the goal, using the information.
Example A: My goal is to get promoted to the director level.
Example B: My goal is to fit into my size-eight jeans.
4) Now for a little mental contrasting. Think about two positive aspects of reaching your goals and two obstacles that lie in the way.
Positives: I will make more money. I will have more influence on the company’s strategy.
Obstacles: My coworker wants the same promotion. I’m not sure what my boss is looking for.
5) Beginning with the first positive aspect, write a few sentences about what it will be like to experience it. Next, write a few sentences about the first obstacle, and why it’s a problem. Repeat for the second positive aspect and obstacle.
How do you feel right now? If you feel as if you have a good chance of reaching your goal, you should be feeling energized and determined. What do you need to do next? Mental contrasting should help provide you with clarity as to your next step.
Keep in mind:
Thousands of studies have shown that getting specific is one of the most critical (though often overlooked) steps to take in reaching any goal.
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