Sunday, September 28, 2008

Timed goals

At the end of the SMART acronym for goal setting is timed for completion. Timely goals have dates in mind for achievement. Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, put it best: “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” If you don’t have a timeline for achieving your goals, you may not get to work right away. It will always seem to be “sometime in the future,” and of course we all know that tomorrow never comes. This is also a reason to have a variety of short- and long-term goals. You can track how you’re doing frequently instead of making a set of goals and then just forgetting about them.

If you set goals for the week, month, quarter, and year, then you have a timeline to completion. It becomes trickier to set longer-term goals and put deadlines on them. For instance:

  • I want to pay off my mortgage.
  • I want to spend a month in Hawaii.
  • I want to retire early.

These are all great goals, but with no timeline to keep you on track, your chances of succeeding are low. In the case of the mortgage, you can succeed anyway by making payments on time every month until the 30-year term is up. If you want to spend that month in Hawaii, put it in your life plan. Defining what you mean by “early” will help you reach retirement that much faster. Here are some reframed goals with timelines:

  • I will pay off my mortgage 10 years early (and then outline the subgoals that will make this happen)
  • I will spend a month in Hawaii for my 20th wedding anniversary.
  • I will retire at age 55. (Specify here what you mean by “retire”—just work part-time? Volunteer? Do nothing whatsoever?)

Review your list of goals and put a timeline for each of them!

If you’ve followed the last several posts from this blog, you’ve learned how to dream up the future you want, remind yourself of your goals with visuals, and shape your dreams by setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed) goals. Your success is now only a matter of your effort!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Realistic/Relevant goals

We’ve covered SMA of the SMART acronym of goal setting. After specific, measurable, and achievable goals, frame your desires with realistic or relevant objectives. Goals should be within the realm of possibility. Setting a goal outside the realm of possibility means you might waste a lot of time and energy struggling to reach it when you can’t, and then enter a shame spiral if you feel like a failure for not achieving it. You are bound by the laws of physics and time. You cannot change the past, as much as you might want to. Look to the future! Some goals that would not be achievable are:

  • I want to be Batman. (Batman is a fictional and tragic character. One can dress up like Batman, but not really be Batman.)
  • I want to fly to Mars in my own spaceship. (Unless you are a trained astronaut, billionaire, and aeronautical engineer, it’s extremely unlikely this will happen in your lifetime.)
  • I want to be king/queen. (Unless you are born to royalty, this won’t happen. Even if you are born as a royal, this may not happen!)
  • I want to buy Disney World. (It’s within the realm of possibility to earn enough to buy it, but Disney World as a property will probably never be for sale in the first place!) 

In addition, realistic objectives should keep in mind any limitations (or, positively, special talents) you might have. For instance, if you are only five feet tall and not very coordinated, you won’t be playing for the Olympics basketball team. However, if you a high IQ, then joining Mensa might easily be in your grasp! 

Check your goals with an eye for making them realistic and relevant to your life!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Achievable goals

So far in the goal-setting SMART acronym, I’ve covered how to make goals specific and measurable. Today I discuss goals that are achievable. Achievable means that you are reaching for desires within your grasp! 

Achievable goals are within your control. This is a very important step that can really trip people up sometimes. You can only control yourself. You can’t control events bigger than yourself or the actions of others. Some goals not within your control are:

  • I want to win the lottery
  • I want my children to behave better
  • I want my husband to treat me nicely
  • I want my boss to give me a raise

Winning the lottery is not within your control--you can only control whether you buy a ticket and which numbers you pick. You simply cannot control any other person’s behavior, so wanting your children or husband to do something or your boss to give you a raise are not achievable goals for yourself. You can control your own actions, and that is all! 

So how could you reframe these nonrealistic goals to be in your control? Try the following:

  • I will buy two lottery tickets a month. (Still playing astronomical odds, but the number of tickets you buy is in your control.)
  • I will come up with a punishment/reward system to encourage good behavior in my kids. (Setting up the system is in your control)
  • When my husband frustrates me, I will take a deep breath and calm down before responding. (Controlling your own response)
  • I will ask my boss for a raise and give four good reasons for him or her to grant it!

Take a look at the goals you’ve been developing--make sure they are all about YOU!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Measurable goals

In the last blog entry, I talked about making your goals specific on the way to having SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely). Today I talk about making goals measurable. If you’ve made a list of specific goals, you’ve probably already incorporated ways to measure them. If you can’t measure your outcome, you won’t know if you’ve achieved what you want. Specific goals are measurable. To make a substantial change, you need to track your efforts with measurable goals.

For instance, the nonspecific goal of “I want more money” is not easily measurable. How would you know when you have “more” money? Technically, $1 counts as “more.” If you have a goal of “I want $5,000 more in my savings account,” then you have a specific and measurable achievement. When your account balance is $5,000 higher than it is now, you’ve achieved that goal!

Measurable goals are the key to noticing your achievement. These are particularly helpful in planning and strategizing your career, your finances, and anything else you set your attention to. Specific and measurable goals allow you to to clearly track how you’re doing.

Review any goals you’ve made so far, and check to see how they are measurable! Even better--put them in a checklist so you can check them off as you achieve them!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Specific goals

Now that you know why and how to start making goals, I will cover the concept of SMART goals--specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. SMART goals support your efforts to achieve them!

Today, we focus on making goals specific. This is critical for effective goal setting. The more specific the goal, the better. If you have a clear picture of what your goal looks like, then you’ll know definitively when you’ve achieved it! You may have started this process by naming what you want and creating your dream board.

In their powerful book The Aladdin Factor, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen discuss how to get everything you want. The primary exercise of the book is to make a list of 101 things you want. (Try it! It’s surprisingly difficult to come up with a list that long.) The key is to get super-specific. Instead of writing “I want a sports car,” you write something like “I want a midnight blue ragtop Mazda RX-8 with a manual 6-speed transmission, fog lamps, cruise control, leather interior, kicking stereo, and GPS.” The more specific you are, the more focused you will be in achieving your goals.

For instance, when making career goals, the more specific you can get, the better off you’ll be! Following are some very nonspecific goals.

  • I want to make more money
  • I want to get promoted
  • I want to lead a team
  • I want to be a better leader

To make these goals much more specific, you can reframe them as follows.

  • I want to make at least $1500/week, $6000/month, $75,000/year
  • I want to get promoted to Assistant Division Manager
  • I want to lead a 12-person development team
  • I want to spend 10 hours per month coaching and training my employees

When you focus on a specific thing you want, your brain is able to focus attention and intention on it, attracting positive energy around your desires. This is essentially the Law of Attraction at work!

You may have a large, overarching goal that you can’t make specific, for instance, “being a better spouse” or “being the best parent I can be.” Often, you can break down a larger desire into more specific goals, such as the following.

“Being a better spouse” might break down into “I will have at least two specifically set-aside ‘date nights’ with my spouse each month.” “I will take two long vacation weekends with just my spouse (no kids) each year.” “I will spend at least 10 minutes just listening to my spouse each day.” “I will do something loving and kind for spouse at least once each week.”

“Being the best parent I can be” may break down into the following subgoals: “I will spend a half hour reading to my kids every day”; “I will help my child review his or her homework every night.” “I will plan three fun activities a week to spend time with my children.”

Look at your list of goals, and make sure they are specific enough that you know when you’ve achieved them!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Keeping your goals in mind

Hopefully, you’re starting to see the value of making some goals for your career or revisiting previous goals. Today I’ll discuss how to keep yourself on track. By keeping your desired outcomes in the forefront of your mind, your energy will be directed to achieving them!

 It’s not enough to just think to ourselves (or even say aloud) what our goals are. They have to be set out in a very real way. The first tip is writing your goals down! Start thinking on paper! When you write it down, a goal becomes real, something no longer rattling around in your mind but existing in reality. This is the first step to achieving your goal in reality. Write down your goals, and keep the list in a place where you can find it and check in on it.

You may choose to engage in affirmations, which are positive statements about what you want. Some folks say them aloud or write them down a certain number of times each day. Affirmations can be quite powerful for making changes, especially in your own mindset. To do affirmations, you should be specific (check tomorrow’s blog posting for more about getting specific), word it in the positive, use the present tense (not past or future), begin with “I choose to . . .”, and be sure your affirmation has a powerful emotional impact. In T. Harv Eker’s wonderful book Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, he has readers place their hands over their hearts and state aloud (and firmly) their intention for change.

An extremely powerful method for keeping you focused on your goals is to make a dream board. This serves well for reminding you of your big goals in life. A dream board (or scrapbook) is a visual reminder of what you want. For instance, if you want the following things in your life:

  • A Hawaiian vacation
  • A BMW Z3 roadster
  • A paid-off mortgage
  • A beach house
  • A special piece of jewelry

Then your dream board might have on it

  • Photos of Hawaiian beaches or plane tickets that say “Honolulu” on them
  • A photo of the BMW zooming along a road
  • A photocopy of your mortgage statement with “$0” written in for the balance
  • Photos or drawings of your dream beach house
  • Photos or drawings of the jewelry you want

The point with the dream board is to remind you of the large, overall goals. Look at it frequently--Put it where you can see it. If you put your dreams in a scrapbook, with, say, one major goal per page, you can write in the date you achieved it. A great idea: Put a photo of yourself that you like right in the middle of the board!

You may have noticed that you have to use images to identify what you want out of life--you can’t make a dream board filled with images of things you don’t want. This is an important part of goal-setting: Your goals must be worded in the positive. Identifying what you don’t want in life actually brings more attention to that mental image, because the brain doesn’t recognize the negative. For instance, I can say to you, “Don’t imagine a bouncing red rubber ball,” and you will immediately see a bouncing red rubber ball. Put yourself in the driver’s seat and state clearly and positively what you do want!

 Focusing on an image (rather than only words describing what you want) engages the visual cortex of your brain. This is a powerful part of your mind--it’s the part that projects into the future. If you can put an image of what you want into the future-pacing part of your mind, your immensely powerful brain will work to make it happen! This is another good reason to word your goals in terms of what you want, rather than what you don’t want.

A colleague of mine who has an incredibly successful direct sales business made dream boards years ago. She had forgotten about them, until she pulled them out to train some new team members. She suddenly realized that she had achieved every single thing on her dream board! Including purchasing a motor home for traveling. Dream boards really work! 

I challenge you all to make a dream board this week--and dream big!

Friday, September 12, 2008


I've thinking lately about setting goals--how to do so effectively, what they can mean, and how to go about achieving them. Goals are the key to making your dreams come true. In fact, it's been rightly said that a goal is just a dream with a deadline. It’s never too late to make goals in any aspect of your life. I'll kick off this discussion withsome reasons why you should make goals, how to make them and track your success, and the importance of making SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely).

In his phenomenal best-seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey outlines a powerful principle: Start with the end in mind (Habit 2). Starting with the end goal in mind focuses your efforts. Realizing a goal is a two-part process: You must create it mentally, and then create it in reality. If you don’t have the blueprint, your efforts will founder and take you on many detours. You can’t go to the bus station and ask for a ticket to “anywhere.” You have to know where you’re going!

 When setting goals for your life and business, be sure to set a variety of short- and long-term goals. In terms of your career, you can set goals that apply for the next day, the next week, the next month, the next quarter, and even the year and beyond. A variety of timelines will help you track toward success. For instance, you might have a goals list that looks like the following:

  • Tomorrow: Finish TPS report, follow-up with boss, schedule annual review.
  • This month: Finish documentation, set up development team, take leadership training, complete annual review.
  • This quarter: Propose new product/service to management, register for continuing education, finish 2 more projects.
  • This year: Get promotion & pay raise, get certification on XYZ, create and manage Customer Review team, join two professional groups outside of work.
  • Career: Buy motor home, pay off house, retire at 45.

Once you have a set of goals, you can start to see how to achieve them. For example:

  • To complete the TPS report tomorrow, I need to collect data from HR and get revenue numbers from Accounting
  • To finish the documentation, I need to block off a certain amount of time this week and next to finish 2 more sections.
  • To register for continuing education, I need to get a course catalog, investigate options, and confirm tuition reimbursement procedures.

Check in with your goals regularly to see how you're doing and where you need to adjust your actions. An overall goal lights up the path of the action steps to take!

Next: Remind yourself of your goals!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


One of the tenets of life coaching, as I learned it, is about living life with intentionality and mindfulness, rather than just reacting to things as they happen around you. Living with mindfulness and intentionality means that you create the life you want, which is a powerful way to take ownership of yourself!

We are so used to working hard and checking things off our to-do list, that we sometimes forget to be intentional. It's easy to drift along, reacting and coping with a full life. So how can we remind ourselves to be deliberate in our actions and choices?

One tiny way I recently found to be mindful and intentional came about in my quest to get more exercise. I love to walk, and I thought I'd add more walking to my routine. Just writing it in the calendar didn't work . . . I could rationalize any number of reasons to postpone or excuse myself from it. So I tried a new tactic: I bought a pedometer, a little gizmo that measures the number of steps you take in a day. It sits on my waistband or in my pocket; it can also tell me how many aerobic steps I've taken, how many calories I've burned, and the total distance I've walked in a day. I'm utterly fascinated by it, and it's made me much more aware of my movement and my body. So now my goals are to get in 2000 steps by lunchtime each day, and at least 6000 by the end of the day.

How do you stay mindful? What are some other things that have worked for you to be intentional in your actions?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blog launch!

Greetings! Coach Laura here, officially launching the Archer Coaching Blog. I'll be posting on a semi-regular basis my thoughts on coaching, tips and tricks for a fulfilled life, inspirational quotes, and of course, shameless self-promotion for speaking engagements, coaching opportunities, and whatnot. Comments and questions welcomed!

Inspirational quote for the day: "To discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time." (Andre Gide)

To me, this quote sums up coaching. Coaches support clients in charting a new path, and it often means leaving the familiar far behind--to great reward. It takes faith, courage, and a willingness to work!