An effective expression of the important goal setting guidelines is that you should set SMART goals. What the SMART goal setting guidelines actually mean is that your goals should be:
With a specific goal you can clearly see what it is you want to achieve, and you have specific standards for that achievement. In making your goals specific it is important that you actually write them, which is crucial in all goal setting guidelines. The more specific is your goal, the more realistic is your success, and the shorter is path to it.
When you work on making your goal specific, you program your subconscious mind to work for you. Then, your feelings and thoughts will lead you to your goal instead of pointing at the obstacles. To make your goals specific you also need to work out the other components of SMART goal setting guidelines below.
For a goal to be measurable you need a way to measure the progress and some specific criteria that will tell you when you can stop and the goal is achieved. Feeling the progress is very important for you to stay motivated and enjoy the process of achieving the goal.
An attainable goal is a goal for which you see a realistic path to achievement, and reasonable odds that you get there. This does not mean that the lower you aim the more likely you reach success. It is well known that goals that work best have a challenge in them. They are chosen as ambitious as possible, but still reachable. Then they will give you more motivation and sense of achievement.
A goal is rewarding when you have clear reasons why you want to reach that goal. This is one more place where it is important that the goal is really yours. Have your specific reasons and expected reward in writing. If possible, even with some visual pictures.
Imagine how you are going to feel when the goal is finally reached. This will ensure that the goal is really worth achieving. Then, every time you get stuck and don't feel motivated enough, read your reasons and look at the pictures. This is a known and very powerful practical technique of how to get through difficult moments and not quit.
The fifth requirement of the SMART goal setting guidelines is that your goal should have a specific time limit. This is also very important for your subconscious mind. Besides, time is the price you pay for the reward from achieving a goal. Setting the deadline will protect you from paying higher price than the goal is worth. This is also your protection from procrastination and perfectionism.
Source: http://www.time-management-guide.com/goal-setting-guidelines.html. Retrieved on January 23, 2006.