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Are you in goal-setting limbo? Your goals are set but you’re no closer to them than you were the day before. It’s probably not your fault. Most people don’t know how to properly set goals and work toward them every day.

Here’s a simple goal-setting method you can use called “Building the Bridge” that will carry you from your goals to tasks in a few easy steps. Let’s begin with Step 1: Start Your Goal Smart.

This is where the SMART goal setting practice comes into play. You’ve probably heard about it before and that’s because it works. Besides the obvious, the word “SMART” stands for a series of words that should comprise a properly defined goal.

Let’s break it down:

  • Specific: answer the “who, what, when, where, why and how” questions
  • Measurable: progress you can track
  • Attainable: within your reach physically and mentally
  • Results-based: focused on outcome, not activity
  • Timely: set within an actual time frame

Here are some examples:

  • Goal first try: “I want to save money.”
  • SMARTened: “By limiting dining out to 1x per week and avoiding all late fees on bills, I will grow my bank savings to $3,000 by the end of 2013.”
  • Goal first try: “I want to get in better shape this year.”
  • SMARTened: “I will walk for 30 minutes every day after work and use the steps at work in order to lose 2 pounds each month for the rest of 2013.”
  • Goal first try: “I want to find a better job.”
  • SMARTened: “I will devote 1 hour every day to my career plan, including networking with 10 new people each month in order to find a higher-paying position in my industry before next July.”

See how it works?

You might be saying, “Whoa, hold on a second! I’m not even sure what goals I want to set.” Rest assured, it’s okay. Not everyone has their dreams and aspirations staring them in the face.

Here’s a little system to jumpstart your goal selection process:

  1. Get out a notebook—your goals deserve a worthy tool that will keep them safe and accessible
  2. Label an individual page with one of the following categories: work, family, home, finances, and self—feel free to substitute other important categories like a particular work project or fitness goal
  3. If a goal doesn’t come to mind in a specific category, feel free to skip it—one might come to you later; you’ll want to keep it down to a manageable level of 3-6 goals
  4. Make a statement—write a sentence that declares your goal
  5. Make it SMART—go back over your sentence and run through the SMART rules from above, making sure it meets each requirement
  6. Now go through each of your life categories and repeat the above 2 steps

People who are high-achievers in life couldn’t imagine living without goals, yet so many people go through their days without any goals or milestones in sight, and this is unfortunate. How can you live and work meaningfully if you don’t know what you’re working toward?

You can’t even play a simple game of checkers without thinking ahead, so why live your life that way? Make your SMART goals today and write your own game plan.

Of course, just having a goal alone isn’t going to make it happen. In Part 2 of our easy and effective goal-setting series (coming soon!), we’ll discuss the step called “building the bridge,” creating milestones that carry you forward.

In the mean time, get more tips on planning, organizing and productivity—as well as goal-setting—for every facet of your life by visiting the AT-A-GLANCE Success Center.

 [photo by FutUndBeidl]

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