This isn't 3rd grade where there is no such thing as a bad goal, there is. "Being Happy" is a horrible goal. The idea of happiness isn't, but as a goal it is. How do you define "being happy?" When you have achieved that state, do you have to stay there? Or, it is a "more often than not" kind of thing? And, if so, how will you know for sure that you have achieved it? Will you write down the number of minutes each day you were able to keep yourself in that state of happiness?
In my post yesterday, I talked a little bit about the high level story lines that I've started to pull out from the unfiltered ramblings that I jot down when planning for the year ahead. But, I realized after getting some feedback (from you the reader, thanks!), that I left out how I determine if something will in fact make it from the hair brained idea phase to the committed and inked phase of the year.
I've had the chance to be a part of a lot of "goal setting" meetings, both professionally and personally with mastermind style roundtables. It is always amazing what you can learn about a person by the goals they share and the approach that they take to prioritizing what they think are the have-tos for the next year. But, in those meetings and roundtables, I've also hear a ton of really bad goals, like the previously mentioned "being happy."
For me, in order for a goal to be counted as a legit commitment, it must pass the SAM test.
Significant: It has to be something that you don't know exactly how it is going to happen and it is going to take your very best to continue to pull the pieces into place so that it can occur.
Attainable: In the time frame of the goal being set, in this case 2012, it has to be something that can be achieved. If not, you will end up failing and knowing that you are going to fail is never a good place to start.
Measurable: If you can't precisely define when you have arrived and what steps and progress you are making along the way, how will you know your are getting closer? You must be able to tick of units of success as you go.
By having these checks and balances in place, I've been able to take big lofty ideas like "Being Happy" and boil them down to specific goals that aim towards the bigger idea AND pass the SAM test.
I had the chance to spend some time with Jeff Swartz, the former CEO of Timberland. In talking about goals he put it another way: "It has to be big enough to matter, but small enough to achieve."