This exercise will help you transform your Want List into concrete, action-oriented goals.
The difference between an average goal and an IMPACT-Goal is like the difference between a car on empty and a car with gas. A car without fuel might be nice to look at and sit in, but it isn’t going to take you anywhere. Having a list of goals might look good on your bathroom mirror, but if they are not designed to move you closer to your destination, they are meaningless.
The difference between a “good” and an “average” goal lies in how the goal is designed not in the value of the goal itself. Don’t set just any kind of goal, set IMPACT-Goals. IMPACT-Goals are designed to maximize the likelihood of being accomplished, and as a result, make an impact on your life.
Regardless of your current situation or your aspirations, your life is headed in a certain direction.
Whether you are the CEO of a large corporation working 80 hours a week or a stay-at-home mom, your energy and focus is pointed in a certain direction. Even if you feel you are confused and your life is going nowhere, you are still headed in a direction.
This concept can be hard to grasp. Many people say, “My life is headed nowhere! Why are you telling me that it is going in a certain direction?!” Don’t confuse direction or effort with destination. We can drive non-stop for days in the wrong direction and never make it to our destination. Goal setting gives us the destination and the direction.
Consider the captain of a cruise ship. Once he leaves port, he must have the exact coordinates of his destination. He may need to change course to avoid storms or to navigate around islands, but he never loses sight of the ship’s destination.
Before we start the next exercise, I want to clear up any confusion and misunderstanding surrounding goal setting. Many of you have listed your goals in the past and have been disappointed with the results. There are many reasons why you may not have had success with goal setting in the past. Maybe you expected results from simply identifying your goals. Most often though, I find that unachieved goals have not been properly designed for success.
Have you ever been taught how to design a good goal?
If you are like most people, you probably haven’t. Goal setting is not taught in schools, even though it is one of the tools that can make the most impact on success. We learn the Periodic Table of Elements and how to dissect a frog, but we don’t learn the easy process of setting good goals. Once you complete this section, you will have a Ph.D. in goal setting. You will learn how to set IMPACT-Goals—goals that are designed to be accomplished. But before you can create IMPACT-Goals, you need to know what they are.
What is an IMPACT-Goal?
The one objective in setting a personal goal is accomplishing it. Regardless of what the actual goal is, an IMPACT-Goal by design maximizes the chances of success. An IMPACT-Goal must Inspiring, Measurable, Purposeful, Active, Controllable, Time-specific. An IMPACT-Goal must contain all of these components:
- Inspiring – Your personal goal must inspire and motivate you. Without this critical element, you will not have the fuel to overcome setbacks and challenges or to take continuous action to move the goal forward. Your goals don’t need to be monumental—ending world hunger or curing cancer—to be inspiring. If it’s inspiring, any goal, big or small, is enough. One of the ways to guarantee an uninspiring goal is to set a goal that someone else wants you to achieve. For goals to be personally inspiring, they must be personal.
- Measurable – Your personal goal must be measurable. The goal should be drafted so that there is no room for confusion or misinterpretation about achievement. When creating a goal, ask yourself, “Can a stranger look at my goal and tell me—with 100% accuracy—if it has been accomplished?” The measurable element of your goal should have a number component—a dollar amount, a number of days, a number of times per week, and so on. By assigning a number or dollar amount to the goal, you will be able to clearly and objectively measure your success.
- Purposeful – A goal without a purpose is like a car without gas. The reason behind your goal must support your vision. If it doesn’t, one of two things will happen. Either you won’t be driven to accomplish the goal because it runs against your vision, or you will accomplish the goal and later realize that the “ladder was against the wrong building.”
- Active – Goal setting and goal attaining needs to be active. A laminated list of your goals might look pretty, but that doesn’t mean you’re any closer to attaining them. For a goal to be an IMPACT-Goal, it must promote action. For each goal, list one or more tasks that will move you closer to realizing the goal.
- Controllable – Don’t fall into the trap of setting goals over which you have no control. This is a formula for failure. Only set goals where you have a substantial amount of control over the outcome.
- Time-specific – A well-crafted vision should not have an ending, but a goal needs a specific deadline. An IMPACT-Goal should support that ongoing vision but it must have a concrete timeline. A realistic deadline for accomplishing your goal provides the invisible drive to complete it—a ticking clock gives most of us the determination to take action to realize our goal. A specific timeline allows you to prioritize your goals.
Now that you know what an IMPACT-Goal is, it’s your turn to create one for each of your Want List items!
*** Refer to the previous lesson to get develop your IMPACT-Goals for your Want List.
At this point, you may have 20, 30, or more IMPACT-Goals. That’s great! It can be daunting to look at this list though. You may be wondering, “Where do I start?!”
Regardless of your background, upbringing, education, career, title, or bank account size, we all have the same number of hours in a week. How you choose to spend your 8,736 hours this year is your decision. Where you start entirely depends on what’s most important to you. What do you want to accomplish first? Where do you want to focus your time and energy?
For each Life Zone, prioritize your IMPACT-Goals within that area.
For example, if you have six IMPACT-Goals in your Relationships Life Zone, rank them in order of priority—which one do you want to accomplish first, second, third, and so on. Once you’ve done this for Relationships, do it for Physical Health, Financial Health, Family, etc. When you’re done, you will have created several lists and several number one priorities.
It is important that you prioritize within each Life Zone rather than have one list where you list all of your IMPACT-Goals in order. By having multiple goals as a priority across each area, you minimize the risk of focusing all of your time on one area or goal. It’s dangerous to focus all your time striving for one goal in one area of their life—you may eventually accomplish the goal, but at the expense of everything else. Live a balanced life by focusing on the most important goals across all areas of your life.
Prioritize your goals so you’ll know exactly where to focus in each Life Zone.
The proceeding blog post is an excerpt from The Six-Day Financial Makeover: Transform Your Financial Life in Less Than a Week!, available now on Amazon.
About the Independent Financial Advisor
Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.