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Think Big—But Not Too Big: 3 Tips for Setting Goals You'll Actually Achieve

I’ve got a couple of major personal goals I’m working towards next year and am in the process of setting some professional goals for 2013 over the next few days. When I came across Gell Browning’s article this morning, her three tips resonated with me. She suggests that those of us who are “right-brainers, the multi-modal people, who are known to be gregarious and abstract thinkers…” need to pay attention.

“You need to set big goals in 2013. You already know that,” she says. “The challenge for you is to turn those big goals into action, keep yourself accountable, and do what you say you’re going to do.”

She makes three suggestions that I think are relevant and would like to share here:

  1. Write down your goals: Without question, this is the single most influential action you can take to ensure you actually accomplish your goals. “A goal not written is only a wish,” I learned as a young man. I’ve found that to be true  over the years. There’s something about writing down a goal or objective that seems to make it easier to accomplish it. “People who write down goals are 33% more likely to achieve them,” says Browning.
  2. Cull a detailed, organized list: I’ve leaned a lot from Agile project management methodologies. Breaking down your goals into smaller timeboxes makes them much easier to accomplish.  When you are accomplishing something associated with your primary goal regularly and frequently, you’ll be more likely to stay on track to achieve your bigger goals.
  3. Make each goal SMART: Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely goals are more likely to be accomplished. Most of the time, I really have to focus on the “Achievable” part of the SMART goals—particularly when setting goals with the members of my team. It’s OK to stretch, but if the goal isn’t achievable and I’m going to hold someone accountable for it’s achievement, it just doesn’t sound right to me. I’ve spent way to many extra hours myself trying to accomplish things someone else promised—even though everyone knew it was likely impossible before we even started.

Over the next week or so, as I contemplate what I would like to accomplish both personally and professionally, I’m going to try to keep these three tips in mind. What do you do at this time of year when you’re setting goals?

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About the Author

  • Ty Kiisel

Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty makes small business financing and trends accessible in common sense language devoid of the jargon. Ty writes about small business financing and other best practices for Lendio, in addition to sharing his passion for small business every week on Forbes.com. He's also the author of the book, Getting a Business Loan: Financing Your Main Street Business.

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