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Goal setting: what does it have to do with elephants?

When I was first introduced to the concept of goal setting I was told to envision an elephant and asked how I would eat it. I was puzzled at the thought and wondered what it could possibly have to do with setting goals. It became clearer when  in response to our puzzled looks the instructor gave us the answer. “One piece at a time”. It made sense then. In other words it doesn't matter how large the task is it can be broken down into manageable pieces.

Why do people want to achieve goals on a step-by-step basis?  Because:

  • It’s easier to keep track of steps and organize plans of action
  • It is easier to reach the destination when you have a map to get there
  • Fulfilling lots of small goals keeps you motivated and positive on the way to achieving the larger goals
  • It is safer (emotionally and financially) to start small and work your way up
  • It’s easier for friends or acquaintances to help you to achieve individual tasks

let's look at an example: a person who wants to lose weight.  At first, there is seemingly only one goal to work with that of losing weight.  However, think about what is involved in the process of losing weight?  The person would have to consider a number of points.  Divide the goal into five pieces then on a piece of paper write “I will lose weight because:”

  1. I will exercise regularly.
  2. I will count calories (or carbs) with every meal.
  3. I will drink more water.
  4. I will eat smaller meals in a day.
  5. I will avoid certain foods.

Break these  points down even further by being more specific. How many times per week will you exercise? How many calories will you count in every meal? How much water will you drink? What portion size do you consider small? Which foods will you avoid?

The goals you set should always be related to the final destination: what you are trying to achieve.

What do you want to achieve? Pick one thing. Declare your goal and break it down into manageable parts.  If any part of the plan seems too large and unachievable then break it into smaller parts.  For example, if you’re opening up a business, do not simply put “start business” as Step 4.  Include specific information regarding how you will fund the business, how much it will cost to start up and maintain, where you intend to run your business, will you be taking on staff or contracting any work to others.  Break each small part into one step or ten more “sub-steps.”  The more steps you accomplish, the more you are getting done!

Before you start setting goals, decide what is truly worth accomplishing.  What is closest to your heart?  The more personally fulfilling your goals are, the more motivated you will be to see them through to completion. Then get down to work. Be focused, take action and success will find you. 

Although I've set my own goals for a number of years and have been successful I still have a lot to learn. This year I decided to join the 100 day challenge and see what a difference it would make in my level of productivity and in what I achieve. I would love for you to join me in this challenge.

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