When it comes to goal setting, it’s tough to know where to begin.  Maybe someone’s asked you to set a goal (or goals) for yourself.  Maybe you have a general idea of what it is that you’d like to accomplish, but you don’t know how to put that information into words.  Maybe you’ve set a goal for yourself, but you’re not sure whether or not you can say with 100% certainty that you’ve completed that goal.  Regardless of your situation, here are 5 criteria that we typically cover in our leadership training courses that you can also use when it comes to defining a solid goal.

1. Timeframe

Before beginning the process of defining a goal, set a timeframe.  How much time do you plan on giving yourself to accomplish your goal?  Is it one week, one month, one quarter, or one year?

2. Specifically Clear

When writing out your goal, it should be as specific and clear as possible.  Avoid generalizations and assumptions.  Anyone (and I mean anyone) who may look at your goal should be able to understand exactly what it is that you’re wanting to accomplish.  When phrasing your goal, don’t use wording like “I want to” – phrase your goal in a way that says, “I will”.

3. Measurable

In addition to writing out your goal, add an element of measurability.  Not only does this give you something to strive for, but it also allows you to mark your goal off without question once it’s complete.  Here are a couple of examples:

Goal #1: I want to be more active
Goal #2: Improve my 5k run time by 5 minutes

The first goal example is highly suspect.  How do you know what you’re trying to accomplish and how will you ever know when that goal is complete?  The second goal is clear, it outlines something to work towards, and it leaves zero doubt when it comes to determining completeness.

4. Obtainable

This is where goal setting starts to get very real.  Really question yourself – is your goal obtainable.  Given the timeline that you’ve defined and the details of your goal, is this something you’ll be able to achieve?  Are you setting yourself up for success or failure?  Do your absolute best to set yourself up for success from day 1.

5. Accountability

When it comes to setting goals, remember one thing – this is YOUR goal.  You are responsible for defining your goals and therefore you are responsible for owning your goals.  Build in accountability and stick to it!  Own every second of hard work and tap into the courage it takes to accomplish anything you set your mind to.

The best way to accomplish a goal is to begin with a solid goal.  If you’re not sure where to begin, attend a leadership training workshop that will step you through the details. Using these 5 criteria will provide you with the checks and balances you need to get off on the right foot.