How To Meet Your 2013 Goals: Look Back, Feel Good – Look Ahead, Get SMART!
by Joe Stumpf

‘Tis the season…
We’re approaching that end-of-the-year time when we start thinking about what we have – and haven’t – accomplished, and what we want to accomplish in the coming year.

When you look back on the past year, is your glass half empty or half full? In other words, do you focus on what you didn’t get done – or do you celebrate what you accomplished?

And what are your goals for 2013? Make more money? Work less hours? Spend more time with your family? Lose weight? Travel someplace besides to your office?

I’d like to share a two-step formula that’s proven highly effective for me for years, and for top-producing agents, lenders, and other successful people when they’re setting goals for both their personal and professional lives.

Step 1: Look Back, Feel Good – Make a List Of The 2012 Accomplishments You’re Most Proud Of, Personal And Professional

Why make a list of your 2012 accomplishments? Because the successful people who are also the happiest are those who can look back and celebrate the joy of their accomplishments. This step will also get you into the right mindset for Step 2, so please don’t skip it.

It’s critical that you plan this step – don’t do it on the fly. Get out your calendar, block out 60 minutes of uninterrupted time, and choose a location where you can have that 60 minutes of uninterrupted time. I can’t emphasize how important it is that you commit this hour to focus on yourself. I know focusing just on yourself for an entire hour may be a stretch for some of you, but be like Nike: Just Do It.

Now, for your list. Take a piece of 8½ x 11 lined paper and draw a line from the top to the bottom. Then number the first 10 lines, one through 10. Write “Professional” at the top of the left column, and “Personal” at the top of the right column.

Then, start writing: the personal and professional accomplishments you’re most proud of in 2012. Don’t hesitate, don’t over-think it, just write whatever comes to mind. The only person who will see your list is you, unless you choose to share it. Don’t stop writing until you have at least 10 items in each column. And don’t overlook an accomplishment you may think is “small” but isn’t. Did you start flossing every day? Accomplishment. Did you make a donation to a charity? Accomplishment. Did you finally watch a movie you’ve wanted to see for ages? Accomplishment. Did you clean out a file cabinet drawer you’ve been meaning to clean out since the first George Bush was president? Accomplishment.

After 30 minutes stop – but only if you’ve listed at least 10 items in each column – and put down your pen. Now you’re going to spend the next 30 minutes reflecting on your accomplishments and how good you feel about them – and about you. Ahhh… Doesn’t that feel good? And look at all you accomplished in 2012! You done good!

Keep your list handy and look at it regularly, until it’s time to create your 2013 accomplishments list.

Step 2: Look Ahead, Get SMART! Reality Check On Your 2013 Goals

I’m not going to suggest any goals for you because you and I and most people have more goals than we’ll ever attain.

But I am going to suggest that the best way to reach a goal is to make sure your goal is SMART. By SMART I mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.

Here’s what each letter stands for, and how this process will help you reach your goals in 2013.

S = Specific

You have a much greater chance of reaching a specific rather than a general goal. To get specific, answer the six “W” questions:

Who: Who is involved?
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Where: Identify a location.
When: Establish a time frame.
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.

For example, a general goal is, “Get in shape and lose some weight.” By contrast, a SMART goal with specifics looks like this: “To increase my physical stamina and reduce my body weight by 20 pounds, I will join a health club by January 1 and work out three days a week for the next six months.”

M = Measurable

When a goal is measurable, you establish concrete criteria for tracking progress toward the attainment of the goal. Measuring your progress helps you

• Stay on track
• Reach your target dates.
• Experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as How much? How many? How will I know when it’s accomplished?

My example above has the measures built into the statement: 20 pounds, three days a week for the next six months. These specific measures support achieving the goal.

A = Attainable

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals, you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

R = Realistic

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you’re the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.

A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seemed easy, simply because they were a labor of love.

Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished.
Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past, or to ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.

In my example, the elements are attainable and realistic: 20 pounds in six months. Work out three times a week. It doesn’t say 20 pounds in two months or work out six times a week. The goal is attainable and realistic – not impossible.

T = Timely

A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it, there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 20 pounds, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work.

However, if you anchor it within a time frame like “by January 1,” then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

T can also stand for Tangible. A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing. When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus, attainable.

So: Step 1, creating your list of accomplishments and reflecting on them. Step 2, using the SMART guidelines to help you succeed at reaching your goals.

I know I said “two-step” formula, but I’m going to add a third:

Step 3: Remember that the secret to attaining your goals is to focus on progress, not perfection. MAKE IT YOUR BEST YEAR EVER !!!