S is for Specific
The first letter is S, for specific. It's not just a general thing, it's very specific. Like adding a hundred thousand dollars of revenue to the top line.
M is for Measurable
And then it needs to be something that's measurable. In this case, if it's money, that's very measurable.
A is for Achievable
We also have to know that it's achievable. Setting very unrealistic goals can be demotivating! So is it an achievable goal? Is a hundred thousand dollars the right number? Is $10,000? What's the number that is an achievable goal?
R is for Results-oriented
The next one is the R, for results-oriented. Is it something that’s going to give a result to my business? Certainly growing the revenue by a hundred thousand dollars would be a good result.
T is for Time Bound
The final one is the T, for time bound. Do I know when I'm going to achieve that goal? By the end of the first quarter? By the end of the second quarter? By the end of the year? What's the timing? Just so that I have a very crisp goal. For example, "this year I'm going to increase the revenue of the company by a hundred thousand dollars by the end of the year." That would be a smart goal for my revenue.
Another tool that we have available is setting goals. Not only short-term goals, but also long-term goals. Have I thought about what my overall objective is? Where do I want to be five years from now? What do I want to be doing in 10 years, versus what do I want to be doing next week? So this means separating the smart goals out into longer-term goals, but also very short-term goals that are actionable right now.
One of the other things that often holds people back is that we don't believe in ourselves. We don't believe we can do things. A tool that we can use for this is called affirmations. Affirmations are listing out, let's say, 20 things that you really love about yourself. You like that you're smart, you like that you are well-educated, you like that you are able to speak to people, or you like that you're able to do detailed calculations. What is it that you like about yourself? You like that you're a great family person, or you're a great husband or wife, or you're a great father or mother. What is it that you really love about yourself? Remind yourself about those things. Write those down, put together a list, and then review that list either on a daily basis, one item a day, or the whole list every day. But keep that list front and center, because that reminds you of how amazing you are as a person.
Another tool that we have is visualizations, or thinking about what's possible in the future. How often do you take the time to sit back and really think about the future for yourself? Taking a little bit of time each day, and visualizing what's going to happen next month, next year, 10 years from now, is not only inspirational, but it helps set the direction. It points you in the way that you want to be going, so that you know when you're there; you know when you're on the path; you're seeing the signs that are bringing you in that direction.
And then we also need to have action plans. Once you have those smart goals and you're visualizing where you want to go, what are you doing now? So often I see people that have hundred point lists and there's no priorities in there, just kind of bouncing around being pushed around from one deadline to the other. What's your list? Do you have a list – an action item list that helps you prioritize what are the most important things that need to get done today, this week, this month? Lay it out with the priorities.
Focus on the Good
Now, once we have all these tools in hand, how do they work for us? Well, there's a very interesting filter in our brain that helps us achieve these goals, and it's called the RAS: the reticular activating system. This filter is what keeps us sane, in a way. Our brains are receiving about a hundred million impulses constantly. Right now, you're paying attention to my voice, but you're also seeing the lights, or the color of my shirt, or you're hearing some other noise in the background. There's all these things going on around us, but the filter in our brain, the RAS, is tuned in to the things we pay attention to. For example, how many times have you been at a noisy cocktail party, and somebody way on the other side of the room calls out your name and you hear it? You hear that because your filter is turned on to hear specific things all the time. Or let's say you buy a new car, and all of a sudden you notice everybody has that car. You see that car 10 times a day, you never noticed it before. But now you that you own one, your brain is filtered to look for it. When you set goals, when you write down your affirmations and pay attention to them, and when you have your action plans, you're training your reticular activating system to pay attention to the things that matter to you most. And the more you focus on the good things in your life, the more they grow. A famous Harvard professor once said, "When you appreciate the good, the good appreciates." So appreciate all that's good in your life. Focus on those good things, your brain will help you do it, and you'll be the success that you really want to be.