I recently purchased a book called the Creative Entrepreneur that teaches how to use creative writing and images to document your business goals. In a lot of ways, I think of it as “scrap-booking for business goals”.
I love this book, but what got my attention even more was when my 4 year old daughter Victoria took an interest in what I was doing with the book. You see, I had purchased a special journal to use with the book. And I also bought some paint, some special markers, colored pencils, construction paper, and glue.
I laid out all the materials, and decided to start working on the SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) example in the book. Within one minute of getting started, my daughter was right there by my side and just went nuts. She wanted to do it too.
We ended up going to the store and buying her a special pink journal that has a lock and key on it. We came home and started working on it together.
At that moment, I decided that it was time to start teaching my daughter how to set and achieve goals. She was ready.
So in today’s article, I’m going to share a five-step process for achieving any goal, while giving an example of how I taught this process to my daughter Victoria.
Try doing this process with your children too, and you will be glad you did. It is an amazing feeling to teach your child how to set and reach their own goals.
Step 1 – Make Sure Your Goal Is “SMART”
The first thing you should do is figure out what you want to accomplish, at least at a high level. Start by just writing down what your goals is, such as “I want to lose weight”. Don’t worry about it being perfect. You just want to capture the essence of the goal.
Once you’ve written down a rough draft of the goal, re-write your goal to make sure it is SMART, which stands for ”Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely”.
For ”Specific”, your goal needs to be more than just a broad statement like “lose weight”. A more specific goal for “lose weight” would be “lose 25 pounds”.
Once you have re-written your goal to be specific, it’s time to see if the goal is”Measurable”. In other words, will you know exactly when you have reached it? The example “lose 25 pounds” is very measurable, because you will know exactly when it has happened. Revise your goal until it is measurable.
You next evaluate the goal to see if it is ”Attainable”, and revise it accordingly. Attainable just means whether you can ever really achieve it. If your goal was “fly with my bare hands”, then it wouldn’t meet the “attainable” test, because it is something that just isn’t possible.
Next, you confirm your goal is ”Realistic”. Realistic just means whether or not it is feasible for you to make it happen like you’ve stated, such as in a certain time frame. For example, if you had a goal of lose 25 pounds overnight, it would not pass the realistic test either. If your goal is not realistic, then re-write it until it is realistic.
The final element of the SMART test is to make sure your goal is ”Timely”. In order to ever feel like you’re making progress, your goal needs to be short term in nature, such as one week, one month, or one quarter.
With my daughter Victoria, the goal we set was to win a new DVD player as a prize by the end of the Carnival on the 4th of July at the Grand Hotel where we were on vacation. It is certainly specific. It is also measurable, because we would know we reached it by redeeming enough tokens to “win” it.
At first, the goal didn’t seem like it was attainable or realistic, because it took 500 tokens to win the DVD player. After all, it was the grand prize out of hundreds of prizes.
But my daughter, husband, and I calculated that if each of us played the carnival games together (and not just my daughter), we could rack up 3 times as many tokens, and could still win enough before the day was up. So we refined it to be attainable, and also realistic.
And it was definitely timely, because we set the goal for just one day, before the carnival ended. So we refined our goal until it met the SMART test.
Step 2 – Figure Out The Series of Steps that Will Get You There
Once you know that your goal is SMART, you can then break it down into a series of steps that will allow you to reach that end result. For example, we figured out the exact steps we needed to take to win the DVD player from the carnival, down to how many games we needed to win in order to get the right number of tokens, and how fast we would then run to the prize counter.
And while mine may be a simple example, even the most complex goal can be broken down into a series of very simple steps.
Step 3 – Envision What It Will Be Like To Achieve That Goal
In this step, you should envision what it will feel like to reach that goal. You can talk about it out loud, picture it in your head, and/or write it down on paper.
This is important because once you can actually envision what it feels like to reach the goal, it makes it so much easier and fun to actually take the steps to get there.
In my example, my daughter and I talked about what we would do with the new DVD player, and how it would be so nice to play all her favorite movies on it and carry it everywhere.
Step 4 – Take Action One Step At A Time, But With Passion
Once you’ve broken down the goal into a series of small steps, and have envisioned what it will be like to achieve it, you should start taking action. Start working on those steps that you wrote down, and follow them, step-by-step.
This is where so many people get hung up. They just do it at 50%, and fall off track, and just give up. If you’re going to set a goal, give it your 100%. And then during those times when you fall off track, just get back on track as fast as you can, and pursue the goal with renewed passion.
But the key is to just keep taking action, in the right direction toward your goal.
In my example, my husband, daughter and I played over 50 carnival games that day to collect our 500 tokens. We played game after game after game. And we had so much fun doing it.
We created our plan, followed it, and accomplished it. We were so proud of ourselves, and I was so excited to see Victoria go redeem that grand prize from hundreds of other kids. And that leads to the last step, which is to “Celebrate” your accomplishment.
Step 5 – Celebrate
In this step, take a moment to celebrate what you just accomplished. Don’t be too quick to just mark it off the list and move on.
Pause for a moment and reflect on what you just did. Pat yourself on the back. If it is your child, pat them on the back or give them a high five. Tell them they are a winner, and that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.
That’s what I did with my daughter. I recapped our entire day to her and said something like this: ”Victoria, I’m so proud that we worked so hard to win that DVD player. We set our goal, and we figured out how to reach it, and we did it. See, I told you that you can do anything you set your mind to, and we just proved it, together.”
So there you go – a complete process you can use for setting and achieving your own goals, and teaching your children to do the same. Now it’s your turn. Have fun.
Denise Gosnell and Jynell Berkshire are attorneys and entrepreneurs who were frustrated by the lack of free and affordable resources for business owners and people looking to start businesses. Denise & Jynell founded Innoventum with the mission of creating the best business startup and growth products on the planet. Denise is a world recognized 8-time author of technology and business books, and has counseled clients such as Microsoft, as well as dozens of startups, on legal, business, and technology topics. Jynell has extensive experience in assisting start-up and existing companies with initial formation, growth, and funding challenges. Jynell also has extensive expertise in assisting woman-owned, minority-owned, and veteran owned companies in becoming certified with federal, state, and local governments, national organizations and private industries.