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HFA board member shares valuable tips to accomplish more

BY CLYDE J.R. BRAWNER, MBA, HFA BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Goal setting is often the foundation of success. We set goals for our education, our finances, our health, our careers plus many other important milestones in our lives. We often think about accomplishing our goals, rarely understanding the art and science of implementing an effective strategy to achieve these important milestones.

Goal setting is the act of selecting a target or objective you wish to achieve. Simple enough right? Well, goal setting is the easy part. The challenge lies within the willingness to make the necessary sacrifices and adjustments to achieve your goal.

For example, many people desire to live a healthier lifestyle, however few make the required sacrifices to achieve this goal. Taking the stairs rather than the elevator can provide many health benefits. While using the stairs instead of an elevator will not make you healthy, it will help shape and develop positive behaviors that will aid in creating a more health conscious and disciplined lifestyle. Do you want the lifestyle that comes with obtaining your goal? Simply put, are you willing to make sacrifices to achieve your desired goals?

Types of Goals

Goals can be divided into three broad categories based upon their desired timeframe: 1) short-term goals, 2) long-term goals, and 3) lifetime goals. Generally, short-term goals can be achieved in less than one year and are often the stepping stones toward achieving long-term goals. If you exercise three times per week, for example, it will lead to a healthier, more active lifestyle, and could support you on your path to the long-term goal of completing a triathlon.

Long-term goals are usually more complex and require a longer period of time to achieve, for example, enrolling in school again to obtain a graduate degree or starting your own business. Lifetime goals are the goals you wish to accomplish at some point during your lifetime. Retiring at age 60 and traveling the world is one example of a lifetime goal. When planning for lifetime goals, it is important to include capstone goals or checkpoints. Saving a specific amount of money by a specific date in preparation for early retirement is an example of a capstone goal.

When developing goals it is important to ensure that the goals are personally compelling and inspiring. In doing so we are more likely to endure the time, energy and sacrifices required to achieve our goals. There are two critical questions that must be asked prior to setting achievable goals. 1) What is the exact objective that you desire? and 2) why do you want to achieve this goal? To remain disciplined in achieving our goals we must ask specific questions and have a clear outcome in mind. Reasons come first, then the answers.

Effective goal setting can be achieved by using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. This acronym represents goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Realistic, given a specified Timeframe. For example, saying that I want to lose weight is too vague. However, saying that I want to lose 20 pounds by summer of 2020 is more effective. Stating your goal in this manner helps to keep you on track, progressing toward your goal given the specified timeframe. The more specific the goal the better.

As you embark on achieving your goals there are three important tips to keep you on task. 1) Write your goals down. The Dominican University of California conducted a study聽and found those who write down their goals are 42 percent more likely to achieve them. 2) Check in regularly. Regularly assessing how you are coming along with the goal will allow you to evaluate your progress and ensure you remain on track as well as provide an opportunity for adjustments if necessary. 3) Celebrate the small victories! Celebrating your accomplishments (even the small ones) as you progress can be helpful in refueling your motivation.

Now that you have a greater understanding of how to develop effective goals, use the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting method to develop a personalized goal for yourself. As you begin to create and clarify your goal, remember to ask the two important questions discussed earlier as well as remember the three helpful tips to keep you on track as you progress toward completion. Setbacks are natural and delays can occur but surrounding yourself with a like-minded support system will ultimately help achieve your desired goals. We may fall short of some of our goals and that is okay, so long as we have made meaningful, positive changes in our lives. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is about progression, not about perfection.

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