What is a SMART GOAL?
You might like to use a helpful checklist to ensure that any goals you set are likely to be effective. One of the best known is SMART – which I have adapted as SMARTIE!
Me 5 years from now Year: _______
What exactly do you hope to achieve, and in what context? (Can it be broken down into smaller, more specific goals?)
How will you measure and review your progress? How will you define (and recognize successful completion of your goal when you get there? (And, as a related matter, how will you celebrate and reward yourself for completion of each goal or progress step? This is key to enjoying the journey and maintaining your motivation.)
AUDACIOUS AND ATTAINABLE
Will your goal be powerful enough to motivate you? Can it be broken down into smaller goals which will be realistically achievable, using your existing (or obtainable) capabilities and resources, in view of your core commitments and available time? The goal should be challenging – without setting you up to fail; don’t cultivate unrealistic expectations of yourself or others, which will only disappoint you. A series of small success goals gets you into a habit of succeeding – and helps you move more confidently towards the bigger picture goal...
RESPONSIBLE (OR RELATIONAL)
Does the goal take into account other legitimate demands on your time, energy and resources and other commitments you have made? Does it, on the other hand, have clear priority over those other demands, so that you are prepared to make some sacrifices, where required? Does it benefit others as well as yourself?
By what date do you want to achieve the objective? (Cross-check with ‘Attainable’; impatience is often a danger sign that you are overly attached to the outcome, or that you are trying to rush yourself past some inner objection that you need to listen to...) Goals without deadlines are just ‘wishes’. Deadlines engage your will, focus your mind and stimulate your adrenalin – all of which are essential in positive motivation.
This isn’t essential, but it really helps – particularly for specific, longer-term goals. Apart from helping you to crystallise your thinking, and providing a useful reminder, written goals signal your commitment. It will be much more uncomfortable to do nothing, with the evidence of your intentions in front of you in black and white, than if they were ‘just an idea’.
Double check that you know why you are setting the goal, that it is something you really want (congruent with your core values) and that it will be worthwhile, given the costs required. This is the difference between burning desire – and half-hearted wishing.
Rather than ask you to evaluate your current goals, we’re going to start from scratch with some fresh goal-setting in the next session. So, having finished this session, reward yourself with a break or a small treat – or just a pat on the back. And get used to marking the end of each session in this way. Remember ‘measurable’ in the SMARTIE framework? Finishing a session represents:
• The completion of a short-term goal
• A milestone that you can use as a yardstick of progress
• An opportunity to reinforce your motivation by rewarding yourself
• A good point of ‘closure’, at which to take at least a short break before continuing, so that your subconscious mind has a chance to consolidate your learning.
>>> Coming Next: ACTIONS TO INITIATE