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Which one is a goal?

I will lose 15 pounds
I want to run a marathon
Quit smoking
All of the above
None of the above

The correct answer is (5) - none of the above. The first three are wishes, not goals. However, you are not alone if you answered incorrectly because research has shown that less than 1% of the population actually understands how to effectively set a goal. This is why so many New Year's resolutions get broken and why so many people try keep failing at the very same goal. The desire to better ourselves is genuine, but the process we go about while seeking this desire is faulty.

Here are five steps to follow when setting an effective goal:

1) Your Goal MUST be meaningful to YOU
This means that you have to be the person to create it - not your spouse or employer. Make sure that the things you are investing your time and energy into are things you are passionate about. When you achieve it, you will be fired up about it.

2) Make your goals specific (quantifiable) and measurable (end date)
I will lose 15 pounds by October 31st, 2004 is a goal because you will know at the end of the time period if you did it or did not achieve it. Many people do not give themselves an end date because they are afraid of failure. In addition, not having an end date allows you to procrastinate.

3) Make your goals the right size
Goals should cause you to stretch and grow, but not be unrealistic. For instance, earning one million dollars your first year out of college has been done, but for most it is unrealistic. On the flip side, if your goal is to run a mile in 6:59 versus 7 minutes, you have not pushed yourself enough. Also, focus on a few achievable tasks at one time and move on as you reach them.

4) An Effective Goal is always written down

This is extremely helpful and essential because there will be times when you goals will make you uncomfortable and you may lose site of them. When this happens, you need to have them written down to keep yourself on track and accountable. Posting your goals on the refrigerator, bulletin board, or in your planner ensures that you will be reminded of them on a daily basis.

5) Review them on a weekly basis
You must review your goal in order to stay on track. Reviewing them causes you to commit to their achievement.

The positive results of achieving any goal are unforgettable. An individual's failure to achieve is seldom because they are incompetent. Rather, it is because they simply do not know the process of success. Follow these guidelines, be patient, and celebrate your success to come.
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