In order for the goals to be effective they should be SMART, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding and Time bound. If any of these ingredients is missing, it will not be possible for the goals to fulfill their purpose.
What is it that you want, from a particular goal? What you want to achieve? Everything must be clearly specified. For example, you want to buy a car. It can not be goal if you say any car will do. You have to be specific about the details such as the make, model, color, interiors, and the price.
It is better to write them down and stick it on the wall or door of refrigerator or any place where you can see it every time. If the goal has a picture, put it up. These specific details program your sub-conscious mind, and your focus shifts from the obstacles to the efforts that you can make to attain the goal.
You need to identify the quantifiable aspect of the goal. This way you will be able to measure your progress, and actually remain motivated. For certain kinds of goals, you may not be able to measure the results, especially for relationship goals or spiritual goals, but you can always record the activities that you are doing that will take you towards the goal.
Setting goals that are unrealistic can actually have a negative effect rather than positive one. It is good to stretch yourself a bit, so that you can grow more towards your potential, but it must not be something that is impossible to be real.
Some people set goals, more to impress others. Many times people set unattainable goals so that they can later blame their failure on the goal that was impossible to start with. These kinds of unrealistic goals can lead to frustration. So, set goals that may be difficult and challenging but not impossible.
You want to buy that dream car of yours. For that you are working hard and increasing your income and savings. But why? Why do you want to buy that particular car? How will you feel while taking out your family in it? The feeling that you get on achieving the goal is the reward that will keep you motivated in face of challenges and obstacles and prevent you from quitting. These rewards could be of different types based on the type of goals discussed in last page. It could be positions in your career, material rewards based on your financial well being, physical, spiritual, or relationships oriented.
The final ingredient of SMART goal is that it must be time bound. It must not be too short, as it will make the goal unattainable, and not be too much. Time is one of the prices that you are paying for the goal, and you must give it time that the goal is worth. Setting deadline will also insure you against procrastination and perfectionism.
Based on the time goals could be either Long term (10 to 25 years), medium term (5-10 years), or short term (1-5 years). There will also be monthly goals, weekly goals and daily goals.
The bigger goals in the life must be set first and an action plan prepared to achieve them. These bigger goals are usually the long terms goals or life goals. The action plan of these long term big goals will contain smaller medium term goals with their own individual action plans, which in turn will contain even smaller goals till they boil down to monthly and daily goals.
As the goals become smaller, you will see that they become more specific and measurable. These smaller goals are extremely important as they keep you on your toes and keep you moving towards the bigger and bigger goals in your life. These small goals provide you daily motivation to persevere and help you to grow towards your potential. When you consistently achieve your daily goals, you achieve monthly goals automatically. When you achieve monthly goals, you will achieve your short-terms goals, and then medium and in the end long term goals.
However, goal setting is a continuous exercise. Long terms goals of today will become medium term tomorrow and medium term will become short term. Priorities might change and so may change the circumstances. So, it is important that we keep on reviewing our goals and adjusting them, in order to fulfill our bigger purpose of life.