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Goal Setting for 2022: Tips for Goal Writing

You may think that writing a goal is the same as writing an email or anything else you write a thousand times a day. But it's not. Here are some tips for writing goals that stick with you, enable your mind to digest them, and are more likely to be achieved.

Write them in the present tense.

Which one sounds more like you'll be at the gym tonight -- "I want to go to the gym tonight" or "I'm going to the gym tonight"? They're essentially the same thing, but one has you already committed to going to the gym and the other has that wiggle room of doubt, allowing you to not go to the gym even though you want to.

When you write your goals in the present tense, sometimes it feels silly. "I'm not the CEO of a philanthropic organization yet, Kate," I hear you saying. True, you're not. But when you state your goal as "I am running a mid-sized philanthropic organization that focuses on arts education for underserved communities" there's a hint of ownership already. And you can ride that wave.

No more than one sentence long.

If you need more than one sentence to describe your goal, it's probably not clear enough. Take some time to distill your goal down into its essence. What's at the core? What is it that's changing? Take a few minutes -- or some help from a friend or coach -- to boil it down and get to the bottom line.

Keep them positive.

Instead of saying what you won’t do, say what you will. “I am breathing only fresh, smoke-free air" or “I arrive at work on time.” When you identify what you don't want to do, it doesn't give your brain anything to hold onto in those moments when you want to go back and do the old behavior again. To arm yourself against backsliding or obstacles, focus on where you are going instead of where you don't want to go.

Make sure each goal has one end result.

Don’t mush two goals together into one. Focus on a single end result and create a very clear image in your mind of what you want things to look like when you’re done. It's also ok to have five separate goals instead of trying to glom five goals together into one. (For example, think “I am reducing my cholesterol 10%” instead of “I am reducing my cholesterol and losing 5 pounds and eating salad every day.”)

Make sure goals agree.

Set goals that agree with each other instead of conflicting. (Decide if it’s more important to you to have money in the bank or that new car. Do you want to train for the marathon or get the procedure done on your foot?) Set yourself up for success instead of failure and recognize that you don't have unlimited time and resources to move your goals forward.

Prioritize achievements over activities.

Define your goals in terms of results or achievements, not activities to be performed. Think “I am closing 40 sales” instead of “I am making 500 sales calls” or “I am getting a new job” instead of “I am going on 20 interviews.” This requires you to really identify what the outcomes are that you want instead of the actions you want to take.

Use your calendar and make a plan.

Include milestones and anticipated dates by which you’ll reach them. Being able to compare your progress to your predicted progress will give you a better sense of how you’re doing. And if you need to shift deadlines or due dates, that's fine! There's no rule that says the first timeline you create is the right one. (And also, with this sneaky pandemic, you don't know what next month will look like, let alone next season.)

Need help with any of this? Check out a free sample session with me and see if I'm what you need.

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