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Dr. Phil said in an interview recently: The only difference between a dream and a goal–is a timeline. What a powerful statement. If you’ve ever longed for something else, this concept can cause a life changing, mental shift. If meeting goals has never been your forte, let me offer a more elaborate explanation. It’s a concept I learned in corporate America which I think should be introduced to everyone in grammar school (along with personal finance but that’s totally irrelevant here :-p). When you decide to set a goal, make sure it’s SMART:

Specific — If you miss this, none of the others matter. When you’re thinking about something you’d like to accomplish in life, make sure you’re very clear, to yourself, and to the universe. Don’t just say: I want a better job. Define what that means to you. What do you want your day to look like? Who do you want to work with? What EXACTLY do you want to do? If you’re at a loss, don’t read the rest. Stop right here until you have the answers…

Measurable — How can you monitor your progress? This one can really throw people off. Once defined, how does one measure getting the “better job”? The most important way, is to define how you will ultimately know you have accomplished your goal. If your goal is to run your own coffee shop, maybe your marker will be your first day of profitability. The day you earn $1 over your expenses, will be the day you celebrate. Once you have that finite measurement, knowing where you are now, you can identify milestones along the way to measure your progress.

Attainable — This one is pretty self explanatory. Don’t decide you’re going to work hard to be the best 21 year old you can be…if you’re already 35. Sorry…but that is NOT attainable. 🙂

Realistic — Don’t try to go from 0 to 100. If you desire to win a fitness competition but you’ve never worked out a day in your life, don’t set yourself up for failure by signing up for one next month. That can be your ultimate goal, but maybe a more realistic one to start, is following a consistent, strength building program for 30 days. Once you do that, maybe your next step will be to go from 20% body fat to 15%. As you accomplish these things within reach time after time, you’ll build the confidence you need to go all the way.

Timely — This is where Dr. Phil comes in again. If you don’t give yourself a deadline, you might as well be wishing on a star. 

Stop wishing…and start building…and don’t forget…to start SMART!