Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ready, AIM, Fire: The key to achieving your goals

You've heard the quote - we're so busy preparing, that our lives are just passing us by. I love this quote. I believe in living in the moment (don't do it all the time; but try my best and believe in it strongly). But here's what I've resolved. Even if we go where life takes us, it's also good to have some direction. It's good to be aware of who we are and what we value. It's also good to have areas of focus. Otherwise we're just floating along.

So here's something I like to do not only myself, but also with my clients. It's called the AIM SMART process. The process itself builds on the SMART goals technique and was developed by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC) - where, I incidentally was trained(shout outs NY20 :).

This idea is this. Life can be quite overwhelming. It's hard to figure out our next steps. This method addresses this reality. It gives you a tool that will help you move forward, without causing you to pull out your hair.

OK, so here it goes.

The first part is setting your target, also known as AIM. Here's where you get very specific. For example, let's say that you have a new business and you naturally want it to grow. Instead of saying, "My goal is to grow my business" you might say, "My goal is to get 4 new clients by June 17th of this year". This gives you a more tangible target to shoot for. So now let's AIM.

A = Acceptable. This is definitely a big step for you, but it's not the ideal in terms of your goal. It does, however, mean progress. Maybe instead of 4 clients you get 2 instead. That's definitely more than 0, but not quite as much as 4. But either way you've made progress.

I = Ideal. This is you really flexing your muscles. You've set a goal you know is going to stretch you. It will definitely be a challenge, but it's definitely one that you're up for. 4 new clients it is.

M = Medium. This is the target between your acceptable and your ideal. It's still a stretch, but maybe it feels more realistic. Maybe you have a lot going on. Starting a new business is tricky. This target considers 'what if's', but again it's still a major accomplishment. 3 clients by June 17th.

While it's all up to you,(M)edium is what we usually strive for.

Once you've decided on a target, the next step is taking some action. This is the SMART part, which breaks down as follows:

S = Specific. This is the goal you decided on in the AIM process. It's very specific and it allows you to track your success. So 3 clients by June 17th.

M = Measurable. This is how you know you've made progress. I've met my goal if by June 17th all 3 clients are secured.

A = Achievable. Think about it for a moment. What's going on in your life? Are you working on your website? Do you have a ton of paperwork left to do? Can you achieve this goal at this point or stage in your business? If not, maybe you need to save it for later or maybe it requires readjusting. Maybe the acceptable goal makes more sense.

R = Reasonable. Again, given everything going on, is this going to be doable? It's fine to stretch yourself, but you don't want to be torn limb from limb.

T = Time Oriented. Make sure you set a deadline. Right now you've said June 17th. Make sure this works for you and that you're committed to making that happen.

So what have you just done? How is this different than what's happened before? If you're like me (before I used this process), what's different here is that you have a clear and measurable target. Beyond that, you've given yourself something to celebrate. But even from there, you can take a step further: Find someone to hold you accountable. This is the most valuable thing that I do for my clients. I help them to not only stay on task but to examine their bumps in the road. It's not enough to say what you'll do, you have to truly embrace why you're doing it!

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