Step 4: Evaluate your goals and repeat steps 1 ~ 4 as necessary.

I’ve been writing and thinking about the theme of goal setting in a series of four posts. In the first post, I looked at finding and achieving appropriate goals: Step 1: Needing Goals? Having difficulty following through? Set better goals: step 1 of four.

Then in Step 2: Consider your current goals and timescale, then I examined our current goals, and the time horizon. In Step 3: Set your new goals and timescale, we looked at how to set new goals.

The last post in this mini-series outlines a vital step in the process: Evaluating your goals and refining them. This vital step is what will separate the successful outcome from the ‘failure’. In reality, failure to achieve your goals in step 3 often leads to frustration, and broken goals, not to mention dreams.

Let me give you a good example: You have been putting on a little extra body weight (a spare tyre). Or as a friend once put it, the clothes in your wardrobe keep shrinking. You resolve to do something about it. So you draw up an ambitious plan to cut your weight by exercising, eating well, and dieting. After ten days, you’re fed up. You’ve lost no weight, you feel hungry all the time, and you’re fed up of carrots and carrot juice. Most reasonable people would conclude that the whole process is a disaster, and resign themselves to having an extra tyre for emergencies. In fact, could it be that the problem is that the process ended with the failure? Could it be that the goals needed refining to produce some traction? Could it be that achieving your plan is actually a recursive process.

And so it is. Recursive, that is. Goals need to be refined as the data pours in about performance. Perhaps, in the case above, the person isn’t exercising effectively, or perhaps s/he is consuming too many cokes after exercising thereby negating the postives of weight reduction. Taking a few minutes to review what has really been going on could lead to an insight that improves the situation, and leads you to success.

So, once you’re into your plan, it’s a good idea to sit down and evaluate your successes (as well as your failures), and outline tweaks that can capitalize on your strengths, while downplaying your failures. The most effective way to fail is to completely ignore any of your successes, while overdoing your lack of progress. To avoid this, you need to set up your mindset to succeed. After all, success is one or two steps away from a good plan. And a good plan often starts out as just a plan!