Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Goal Setting

Goal setting theories are one of those asshole things.

You know, everyone has one.

Yesterday, I posted my #1 goal for the year.

Before I break down how I choose to attack my goals, I want to give you a bit of information about how others recommend we set goals.

Psychologists say that goals should be specific and challenging. Research by Dr. Edwin Locke back in the 1960's resulted in a lovely acronym for effective goal setting. He said that goals should be SMART.

Specific - Be precise in defining your goal. Make it significant! Make it count!
Measurable - Make it meaningful! There has be a way to define success.
Attainable - There has to be a way to make it happen. It must be within your control.
Relevant - Make it rewarding! It has to mean something to you.
Trackable - There should be a time set to it. Give it an end.

I'm a huge fan of goals. They help me feel organized in my life and in charge of my own destiny. Without them, I tend to feel chaotic and disinterested. Years ago, I felt that goals added a level of stress to my life. I did not enjoy defining what I wanted because if I was unable to achieve them, I felt deflated and that my already negative outlook on the world would just be reinforced. What I found was that it's all in my perception. I could choose to look at it that way which could be nothing but the truth or I can choose to look at it how I do now, and that is that goals help me get more out of my days, months, and years. Without them, I feel like time is just passing me by. With them, I feel engaged in my own life.

Goals are a valuable resource for building self confidence.
Thinking about your goals is just the first step in creating the life that you want and becoming the person you want to be. If you haven't been asleep or unconscious for the past year or two, you would have heard about the new agey stuff going around with the laws of attraction. Laws of attraction suggest that like attracts like. So if you are thinking and feeling not so good about you or your surroundings, you'll experience more of those not so good things to generate more of the same thoughts and feelings but if you think and feel happy and proud and content then more things will come into your life to support those feelings and thoughts. Setting goals, in my opinion, is just a tool to manipulate the laws of attraction in your favor.  

So here's how I do it.

I start with a spreadsheet because I'm a numbers nerd and I love spreadsheets. It's my thing, leave it alone. You don't have to use a spreadsheet, you can just write them on a sheet of paper if you want. I start with the weeks of the year across the top and group them by month then by quarter so I can see them at a glance or look at the entire year at once. Down the left side, I list my goals. I start with my ultimate goals for the year, then I break each of the year goals down into quarterly targets, monthly actions, and weekly to-do lists. Then across the page under the week/month/quarter that I intend to take the actions I defined, I will either put an X or a note to myself so I can track everything in one view on a timeline.

For Example:
Annual Goal - Weigh 120 lbs by December 31st, 2011 (I put it in positive terms to tell the universe that I don't intend to misplace the weight but shed it completely)
Quarterly Targets - Q1 Weigh 156 lbs by April 1st, Q2 Weigh 143 lbs by July 1st, Q3 Weigh 130 by October 1st, Q4 Weigh 120 lbs by December 31st.
Monthly Actions - Create new activity calendar with full exercise plan. January ice skating, February ballroom dancing, March push-ups.
Weekly To-Dos - Meal plan, grocery shopping, exercise at least 5x, do monthly activity 2x, track calories

For this particular goal, I have a daily to-do list that I keep as well because I personally need a daily reminder of what habits I need to maintain in order to experience the success I want. I shared that list yesterday if you want to refer to it.

I also make a note to myself on my goal spreadsheet to set a new goal every quarter so I have something new that is keeping me engaged in my goals and I have a reminder to review and evaluate my goals on a monthly basis so if I need to adjust them up or down, I can do that as the year progresses.

Calorie counting is one of those things that I do religiously. I tried to get away from it toward the end of last year but ended up putting a couple pounds back on so I'm back to tracking everything again. I've been using sparkpeople and love love love it. So easy to use. You can track your food, water, vitamins, exercise, and other goals. There are blogs and articles and tips and forums and groups to participate in if you should so desire. If you're a sparkpeep, look me up. Salinalyn.
Well, there you have it. Goals alla Salina.

Oh, and I just found this site too. I haven't signed up to use it yet but thought I'd share it with you.
It's a free site where you can sign up and input a goal for yourself, define your referees or as I like to call them Accountabilibuddies and you can even pledge money to a charity as a financial motivator if you want. If or when you default on your goal tracking progress, the site automatically generates an email to all of your Accountabilibuddies to inform them that you've been slacking and if you have pledged cash, you lose the money or it goes to an anti-charity (something you don't want it to go to).

Do you have any special goal tracking methods that you just love and would like to share?


  1. Honestly, I don't have a way to track, other than lining up pants in reduced size order, then as I fit in them I get rid of all the pants in bigger sizes. It is quite purging. Not very scientific, but it works for me I guess. But I like your method alot!

    Polar's Mom

  2. Love how organized your goals are! Maybe that's why I'm struggling... my goals aren't specific enough. Will take some of your advice and get things detailed!


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