By Jennifer Forrest, August 11, 2018
Did you know that people who write down their goals are 33% more likely to achieve them? Doesn’t that sound like a very easy thing to do to get a 33% higher chance of success. All you need to do is set a goal, and write it down.
Yet so many people don’t have a clear idea of what they are trying to accomplish. It’s like going on a road trip without having a map. Imagine how much more difficult it will be to get to your destination. The destination, for you, is your goal. It’s where you want to be. And the map is your plan for achieving those goals.
"Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible" – Tony Robins
What Are Your Goals?
Tell me right now, what are your goals for learning English? And please don’t say that your goal is to improve your English. I hear this a lot. This is a very generic and general goal. It’s like me saying I want to be rich. First of all, there is no definition of rich. What I consider to be rich, another person may consider to be poor. This goal is so general and unspecific that it will be extremely difficult to achieve. The same is true if your goal is simply to improve your English.
We need to develop this into a concrete goal that gives you a plan, and the motivation, for success.
You need to find a goal that inspires you to want to learn English. A goal that is so powerful that you can’t wait to work on it in the morning. A goal that makes you not want to go to sleep at night. Once you have this kind of goal, then nothing will stop you from achieving it.
This is the goal that you should write down and start working towards.
You can have this motivating and powerful goal if you set SMART goals. Your goal should be:
S – specific
M – measurable
A – attainable
R – relevant
T – timely
Let’s take your goal of improving your English and turn it into a SMART goal.
You need to be specific about what you want to achieve. Take some time and really think about this. Think about the “WH” questions when you’re setting your goals. What do you want to achieve? Why do you want to achieve it? Who is involved in your goal? When do you want to achieve it?
Examples of a Specific Goal:
I want to have the confidence and skills to apply for a job in English.
I want to travel and feel comfortable ordering food, asking for directions, and having simple conversation in English.
There should be evidence available when you achieve your goal. Simply saying you want to improve your English is not a measurable goal. How do you know when your English has improved? Every time you learn 1 new word you’ve improved your English. How much of an improvement do you want, and why do you want to improve it.
Examples of a Measurable Goal:
I want to have a simple conversation with my co-worker and tell him about my weekend, my work, and my life in general.
In this example, I’ll know when I’ve achieved this goal. Either I can have the conversation or I can’t.
This means that your goal is realistic to achieve given your current resources (time, money, skills, life situation). If your goal isn’t attainable, then you are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
Examples of Unattainable and Attainable Goals:
I just started learning English, and in 2 weeks I want to get a 9 on the IELTS. <- Unattainable
I just started learning English, and in 6 months I want to talk confidently in the past and future. <- Attainable
I want to sound exactly like a native English speaker and never make a mistake when I speak. <- Unattainable
I want to be understood when I speak the first time, despite my accent and mistakes <- Attainable
The goal should be relevant to your life. If you don’t have a travel visa and won’t have money to travel for the next 10 years, then your goal shouldn’t be to learn English for travelling. Perhaps your goal can be to meet someone in another country and have interesting conversations via Skype in English. That is affordable, and doesn’t require travel.
There should be a date and time set for achieving your goal. If you don’t have a deadline, then you won’t be motivated to work towards your goal.
Example of a Timely Goal:
I want to read short stories in English and understand the main idea in 6 months.
Setting Your SMART Goal:
Now that you know how to set SMART goals, take some time and brainstorm what your goal is.
Once you have a goal that gets you excited, write it down!
Review it daily and work towards that goal.
Remember that goal setting is not a one-time activity. You can review your goals and change them as your life changes.
And you can set new goals once you’ve reached your current ones.
I help busy professionals speak English confidently so they can take their careers (and their lives) to the next level! You can get started right now with this free speaking guide on how to speak English fluently and confidently in 6 easy steps.