Having goals in life has been identified as one of the key pillars of success. After all, we cannot attain success if we don’t know what we want. Goals help us define where and who we want to be.

They are observable and measurable with end results, which we plan to accomplish within set time frames. They might be short-term goals, such as getting that IT certification, or long-term goals, like early retirement.

Be SMART when goal setting to achieve success

Goal setting involves identifying important things that you want to achieve within a particular time frame. For greater success, you must be passionate about them and know very clearly why they mean a lot to you.

It helps you to commit to those goals and focus your energies on them. Goal setting also helps you to measure and celebrate success every step of the way, giving you long term vision and motivation in the short-term.

Setting goals begins with creating a long-term picture of what you want to achieve, then breaking these down into smaller, more specific to-do lists that you should complete within specific periods. Finally, you must act on them and celebrate each milestone along the way.

SMART goal setting is the most popular and effective goal setting tool

SMART ensures that every goal is:

  • Specific: You are likely you are to accomplish a goal when it’s clearly defined. List the what, where, how, and why of each goal to be more specific.
  • Measurable: Create a way to quantify your success so you can track your progress and stay motivated.
  • Attainable: Writing down goals that are important to you helps you develop the attitudes, skills, and habits of achieving them.
  • Realistic: You should be willing and able to reach your goals to stand any chance of success. Goals should high enough but achievable, and must also create substantial progress in your life.
  • Time-bound: Every goal must have a time frame to help you track your progress. Know when each step should be completed and celebrate this milestone.

Why should you write down your goals?

The vast majority of us never write down our goals. We tend to keep them in our heads, where they are jumbled up with thousands of other thoughts and plans.

In fact, studies show that 25% of people abandon their New Year resolutions within one week, while 60% do so after just six months. What’s more, only 5% of those who go on a diet lose weight, while 95% gain more weight!

Interestingly, a Harvard University study that followed students in the MBA program found that only 3 percent of them wrote down their goals, and ten years later, ended up earning ten times more than the 97 percent who never wrote down their goals.

According to another study conducted by at Dominican University, Dr. Gail Mathews, found that stand 42% greater chance of success if you write them down. Furthermore, you are more apt to succeed if you also share your goals with others or join a group with similar interests.

The following are five good reasons for making a list of your goals, rather than simply dreaming about them.

1. It makes you define what you want
Written goals compel you to clarify those things that mean the most in your life in a precise and clear manner. You will also have a better plan and roadmap for achieving them, rather than a vague and general idea.

2. See and celebrate achievements
Written goals make it easier to see every milestone you pass and celebrate it. It keeps you focused on what needs to be done and helps you to track your progress every day.

3. Raises your commitment
Your level of commitment is higher when you have written goals. Your SMART program is a pledge to do make progress every day, and to develop habits that help you meet your time frames.

4. Keeps you motivated
You will be able to visualize the end results of your goals. You will also track and celebrate progress, which elevates your motivational levels.

5. Keeps you accountable
Goals that float freely in your head can quickly be forgotten, downgraded or just ignored. Writing down goals holds you accountable to yourself and your mentors. It makes your success a contract that you strive every day to uphold.

One step closer to reality

Goal setting will bring your dreams closer to reality, and force you to ignore distractions, overcome hurdles and most of all, keep sight of your long desired achievements.

Did you have goals written out for 2016? How successful were you at achieving them? Has writing down your goals in the past help you in some way, let’s help others achieve their best 2017, add your thoughts in the comments below and as always thanks for reading.