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A lot of people pride themselves in shooting from the hip and living for the moment. They wear their lack of goals, plans and schedule as a badge of freedom. If you peel the badge back, what you’ll probably find is a lack of discipline, a lack of focus and lack of any real objective for each day.

If that’s the life for you, that’s cool… but if you have goals, ambitions or achievement in mind, shooting from the hip is rarely a successful strategy. Neither are vague or broad objectives like I want to make alot of money or I want to be spiritually disciplined.

You need specific goals, specific plans and specific objectives if you want to be able to determine what needs to be done to accomplish them. Specificity motivates us to take action because it gives us a clear picture of the reward, and makes the attainment of it believable. Specific objectives provide a framework for tangible, specific action.

For example, if I say I want to grow spiritually by helping the needy for one hour a week, then I can do exactly what it is needed to accomplish that goal because the goal is realistic, measurable and specific.

Write your specific goals down on paper so you can review them regularly. Goals in writing do not become fuzzy or forgotten. Written SPECIFIC goals allow us to have a laser like focus when we need to decide what actions to take on a given day to obtain them.

Make sure your goals are measurable: I want to increase my income by $400 a month. I want to grow spiritually by giving 5% of my income to charity. I want to be a better father by spending at least one hour a day playing with my children. Specific goals that are measurable are goals that can be achieved.

Make sure your objectives are personal and realistic. Personal? Make the objective YOURS… don’t set goals to appease other people’s expectations of you. Goals you aren’t passionately invested in for YOUR sake, aren’t goals that are going to keep your attention for the long haul.

Also, your specific objectives should be realistic. I can have a specific goal to play professional basketball, but trust me, it AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN. Your specific objectives must be realistic and attainable.

Don’t jump over this point to quickly. I often hear I want to be a millionaire in 6 months. Specific yes, but realistic? Depends on a LOT of factors.¬† I want to weight 100 pounds less in 4 months. Specific, you bet, but realistic? Probably not. How about I would like to lose¬†4 pounds a week? That’s getting more into the range of difficult, but realistic.

Make sure your goals are compatible with each other. You can’t set a goal to build a business, coach a little league team, train for a triathlon and get your Master’s degree all at the same time. You have to be realistic about how your specific objectives fit together in a master plan.

Finally, put dates and times on your goals. This instills a sense of urgency and promotes action. Put in mini-milestones along the way to make sure you are making adequate progress. If a milestone shows you are behind, then you can adjust intensity to catch up or get ahead.

Shoot from the hip has it’s place in life but if you truly want to gain financial freedom, a well balanced life and spiritual fulfillment, then shoot from the hip is an occasional luxury, not a way of life. Specific, realistic objectives with real timelines are the pathway to successful life management.