This past weekend, I ran my first race since April, 2013. It was 2 miles, and while I’m in the process of training for a 5K, I just started that training a couple of weeks ago. Halfway through the race – at about the one mile mark – I started to wonder why I had done this to myself. Why did I sign up for a race so soon into my training? (Moreover, why did I sign up for two!?! I’m running again on Thanksgiving). Then I summoned my energy: I just needed to get to the finish line.

There are a lot of steps in two miles. It can seem like a huge distance, but the thing is, it’s only a huge distance if you let it be. If you focus solely on the next step, soon, you’ll reach that finish line.

Goals are a lot like distance running.

When you have a big goal, it can seem big, scary, hairy, and audacious. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming. If you’ve already made sure that the goal you’ve set is SMART, then you’re halfway there. Just like a race has a start and finish, it’s important for your goal to have a clearly marked start and finish. Making your goals SMART does this. SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

There are a few different variations of the acronym, but the idea is the same – you need to have concrete goals. “Become a raging success” isn’t very helpful.  There is no clear start and no clear finish. You can’t make a marked path to get to the end. It’s just a cloudy idea. Trying to make that goal happen will just lead you to be lost off in the woods somewhere wondering how you got there.

Goals need milestones

If you only know where the start and the finish for your race are, you’re able to get there – eventually. Having a marked race path, however, helps you get there efficiently, and with a defined path, you’ll know exactly where you stand at any point in the race. For example, when I started questioning my sanity in the 2-miler, I knew I was halfway to the finish line. I knew I just had to make my body work for me for one more mile. Had I not seen the mile marker, I may have been less motivated to finish.

How will you know that you’re on the correct path to meeting your goal? Creating milestones can help. By looking at your goal and determining what milestones you will have for the goal, you can start to map out the path to success.

Milestones need actions

Once you’ve created your goal’s milestones, you can create the actions necessary for meeting each milestone, and ultimately, for meeting your goal. The action items define the exact path you need to take between each milestone to get to the goal’s finish line. These are the baby steps you will take toward making your dreams come true. Try to make your action items as small as possible. Write them as complete sentences. You should be able to know exactly what needs to be done to call that action item done.

By taking time to plan out your goals, you have a greater likelihood of seeing them through to completion.

What goals are you working on meeting right now? Share in the comments section.

 

 

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