Much has been written about goal setting. Yet, many people comment that they are not satisfied with their performance in achieving those goals. This article is intended to address not only the effective setting of goals, but also to identify 8 steps to ensure that you achieve the goals you have set.

To begin, let’s be sure we have a clear definition of what constitutes a goal. There have been many definitions of a goal; for purposes of this article, I would like to define a goal as follows: “A written statement that clearly describes certain actions or tasks with a measurable end result.”

To elaborate on this definition, a goal must be written. If it is not written, it is merely an idea with no power, conviction or motivation behind it. It will lack energy and purpose. A written goal will allow you to remind yourself and others exactly what has to be done. Rereading this written goal on a regular basis will help provide the motivation to achieve the goal.

A goal will clearly describe certain actions or tasks. A goal that is clearly described will eliminate misunderstandings between you, your colleagues, your staff and your boss. Clearly described goals will include action verbs such as create, design, improve, organize, purchase, etc. A test to determine the clarity of your stated goal is to show the statement to 5 people. Ask each of them individually to explain the purpose and objective of the goal. If each one has the same response, your goal is clearly stated. If the responses differ, even in the slightest, it is a signal to make your goal more clear.

Goals must have a measurable result with a timeframe for completion. A measurable goal is quantifiable. It is described in such a way that the actual result cannot be disputed. If you cannot measure something, chances are you cannot effectively manage it.

Now that you have a written goal, what steps can you take to ensure you achieve the goal? The following will help you:

    1. Regularly and vividly imagine your goal as accomplished.
    1. Share your goal with as many people as possible so they can support and encourage your actions to achieve the goal.
    1. Break the goal down into small steps or tasks and set deadlines to complete the smaller steps.
    1. Review your progress regularly.
    1. Plan each task or step on your calendar by making a appointment to work on a particular part of the task. Block out the time necessary and try to not allow interruptions, phone calls or other tasks distract you.
    1. If you are having trouble or getting backlogged, ask for help. Also, allow yourself to help others who may be backlogged as well.
    1. Make the decision that you will accomplish the goal.
    1. Plan a reward for yourself for the accomplishment of the goal. Even if no one else (like your boss) will provide a reward, there is no reason you can’t reward yourself- a movie, a massage, a walk in the park or something that is meaningful to you. This will also help to motivate you to accomplish the goal.

What I have outlined is a process for effective goal setting and achievement. A process will work if two components are present — the process itself is sound and the people utilizing the process have the discipline to follow the process through. The process described above is sound and has worked in thousands of situations. The discipline is up to you.