"If you aim at nothing, you'll get it every time." -Zig Zigler

I thought that would be a great quote to start this blog post on creating goals and plans.

This is another post in the series I'm calling The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Exercisers.

Begin with the end in mind is the second of Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and is the second in my list as well.  Here is the "blurb" I wrote about this habit in the original blog post:

Begin with the end in mind - This means that you need to create a plan.  Don't just feel your way through.  Either create a plan, or find someone who can do it for you.  Either way, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

There are several sub-topics to talk about here, so let's dive right in:

The first thing that comes to mind when I consider this habit is that you need to have a clear picture of what "the end" looks like.  At this juncture, we're not concerned with how we're going to get there.  What we need right now is a crisp, clear, vivid, technicolor image of what our final result will look like.  Specificity is very important here.  Vague goals produce vague results.  You don't want to end up with something like your goal; you want to end up with your goal. 

In his book Maximum Confidence, Jack Canfield tells of a down-on-his luck car salesman who always dreamed about owning a Mercedes or BMW dealership.  As he was about to end his life by jumping from the Santa Monica Pier, he discovered a Genie's lamp.  When the Genie asked him what he wanted, he responded, "I want to be the owner of a successful foreign car dealership in a major metropolitan area." The next morning in Tokyo with a Chrysler dealership. The moral of the story is to be more specific.

Sit down with a pen and paper or at your computer and write down your goal. 

Write down all the specifics you can think of.  If you can find pictures that represent the goal, include those as well.

Next, pick a date that seems reasonable.

Make sure you state your goal in a "how much, by when" format.

Share you goal with everybody who will listen.

If your conviction and confidence is strong, even tell the "nay-sayers" what your goal is.  They will be your gauge as to whether or not you've picked a challenging goal.  If the nay-sayers aren't saying "nay" then you haven't really challenged yourself.  If your confidence isn't quite high enough, you may want to exclude the nay-sayers (and you probably know who they will be) and only tell people you can trust to cheer you on!  This keeps you accountable.

Next, it's time to create your plan of attack.

Start with the big goal and break that down into smaller goals.  As an example, let's say you pick a goal that will take you a year.  Break that down into monthly steps.  If your goal is numeric, it shouldn't be hard to divide that number by 12!  Then break it down into weekly and daily action steps.  I know I make it sound really simple, but once you do it, you may find out it isn't as hard as you imagine.

An alternative is the "goal snowball" I *stole* from financial adviser, Dave Ramsey:

A snowball starts out small at the top of the mountain, and as it rolls down, it grows in mass and speed until it becomes unstoppable.  By this same token, you can start with a small, easy goal, accomplish it, and move on to the next goal (which should be a slight bit bigger and more ambitious).  Each time you knock off a goal, you gain in your own momentum and your confidence grows larger.  Then by the time you reach some of the big, scary goals, they won't seem so bad.

There you have it: Doug's guide to goal setting.  Hope you enjoyed it!