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Setting Goals That Stick: Part III

Posted on February 9th, 2014 by Stephen Hardy | Print

In the first two blogs of this series we talked about setting SMART goals. To refresh your memory these goals were:


In the last blog we talked about how to make a goal Specific. In this blog we look at the second requirement on the list:


A goal is not a goal unless you have some way of knowing how far away from achieving it you are or when you have achieved it. You know this by asking and answering the questions: How Much? How Many? How Often?

What is the end point for your goal? Can you picture yourself in that situation? Can you define a specific event or action, which means, without any doubt, you have achieved your goal?

Let’s look again at your goal of gaining entry to Computer Science at Stanford. A sensible end point for this goal would be seeing yourself opening the letter of acceptance from Stanford, offering you a place in Computer Science. Steps towards that goal could be putting in your application to Stanford or obtaining letters of support for your teachers to include with your application.

It is also helpful to structure the goal or set milestones along the way to tell you how you are going. Are you 10 % of the way there? 50 % of the way there? 80 % of the way there? It may also be helpful to break a big goal up into many smaller ones. Doing this not only helps keep motivation up, it also provides a useful reality check on where you really are compared to where you think you are. And because numbers don’t lie, objective measures are much more useful here than subjective ones.

Going back to your Stanford example, once you have achieved your goal of gaining entry into Computer Science at Stanford, then completing each year successfully and graduating with a degree would be the logical next goals to set. And a useful end goal vision to know you had achieved all these goals would be to see yourself on stage, wearing your academic dress, receiving your degree in Computer Science from the President of Stanford University.

Having a clear goal end point has a powerful effect on your subconscious mind. The clearer you can make your goal end point, the more you can see it, taste it, smell it, feel it, the more vivid and real you can make it and see yourself in it, the more likely you are to achieve it. And therein lies the paradox: We don’t achieve what our conscious mind says we will. We achieve what our subconscious mind believes we deserve. This leads nicely into our next point.

Until next time, stay happy and healthy.