Wednesday, August 10, 2016

"Setting Goals Requires Both Thought And Action, But Mostly The Latter"

Many people like to set goals for themselves about what they would like to achieve or how they would like to grow their business, but often these expressions - labeled as goals - are more of a general guide to behavior or desired outcome than a specific plan to achieve results. This is why what people frequently call their goals go unachieved.

The part that many expressions that are called goals are missing is that they are not specific. As such, they sound more like an affirmation than anything that is achievable.

For instance, if we decided that we wanted to be able to run a mile (in whatever time – let’s start with the distance first) and we had trouble even visualizing ourselves running more than a few yards, that’s OK. We have to start someplace.

So, the stated goal is to run the mile. It has to be a specific distance - not just running in general. If we want to beyond that and eventually enter and complete in a 3K or 5K run, the same thing applies. It will just take a little longer to get ready.

We can sit at home in front of the TV and affirm all we want that we are now running a mile with ease and can even run farther. We can even write out such expressions and recite them frequently throughout the day. This won’t get it done. If we never take that first step, it’s not going to happen.

We must add action to the mix if we ever expect to achieve our goals. How can we expect to ever run a mile if we can't even get to the end of the street or around the block? You might need some short-term intermediate goals to help us accomplish our larger goal. That's fine also.

Break up the task. If running a mile means that we have to run down to the corner first, then down to the corner and back, then 2 blocks, then 4 blocks, and then more until we work up to the mile, that’s OK. Accomplish your smaller objectives first. We won't even worry about how long it takes until later. First we have to actually run a mile. Then we can work on doing it faster and faster.

Another critical step of achieving goals is that they have to be measurable so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them. In this example of running, if our goal had simply been just to “get in shape” or “jog a few blocks” how would we ever know if we had done enough to consider that we had accomplished what we set out to do?

That distance factor in this same example is important. We may have to walk part of the way before we can run the entire distance. We may have several days when we feel like abandoning our goal because it seems well beyond what we are capable of doing, but we have to remember the larger picture of why we set out to do it in the first place.

Then after we accomplish our goal of running a mile we may want to set a goal of how quickly you want to be able to run it and keep pursuing and revising that downward as we get quicker and quicker at doing it.

Before long what looked and sounded like a significant achievement - and it doesn't have to be running a mile as this was just an example - will be something we can look at in our rear view mirror as something we were surprised was that big of a deal for us to be concerned about ever doing.


Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit or call 561-685-5555.