How You Can Set Smarter Goals
If you’re like many Americans, you craft goals with good intentions, but then watch them fade like an old dream.
If you’re like me, wasting time and energy on things that don’t materialize is painful. Goals that fail erode your self-confidence. If you are ready to get laser-focused and crystal-clear about making your goals a reality, this article is for you. You will learn how and why to craft SMARTER goals.What are SMARTER goals? So glad you asked!
The first mistake many of us make is when we declare broad, vague goals. It’s easy to say, “I want to lose weight and get into shape”. It’s something entirely different when you outline the specifics. “I will get into shape by going to the gym three days per week, doing the program my trainer designed with me.”
We know our progress when we can track and measure it. Many of us measure by accident. For example, when I open my favorite bag of “healthy” rice chips, it’s easy for me to munch away without thinking about how much I’m eating. When I reach the crumbs in the bottom of the bag, I’m shocked that the entire bag is gone.
I call this “measurement by accident”, where I found out where I was going by stumbling into it. It’s dangerous because it erodes your confidence. The lesson: Let’s be deliberate. “I will SAVOR 12 chips, giving the experience my full attention.” Then, count out the portion and put it into a bowl.
Many clients working with me will specifically declare the weight and/or dress size they wish to obtain. Sometimes, I ask them to declare the specific physical measurements they want as well.
Your goals must be achievable, and yet stretch you out a bit. When you identify the goals that you care about, you will be more motivated to acquire the attitude, traits, knowledge, skills, and relationships that help you reach them. You will more readily re-prioritize your time, energy and money to make your aspirations a reality.
Crafting a great goal requires you to assess where you currently stand. If your aim is to drop 30 pounds but you eat every meal in restaurants, you are unlikely to reach your weight goal unless you adopt new, health-loving strategies. If friends or family are unsupportive of your efforts to transform your body and health, you will need to create new networks of support.
Generally, the goals that stretch you beyond your current comfort zone are more motivating (and rewarding) than those that are ultra easy to achieve. Goals that are challenging are more easily achieved when you have the right support system.
“Make no mistake: taking responsibility to transform your current reality is an act of bravery. You could just play safe and stay comfortable. If you are serious about transforming, your support team is vital.”
Realistic and Relevant Goals:
Declaring, “I’m going to climb Mt. Whitney this summer” isn’t very realistic if your outdoors resume is limited to zip lining and amusement parks. Perhaps “I’m going to embark on three intermediate hikes this summer” is more realistic. However, climbing Mt. Whitney this summer might be more realistic if you already possess a good deal of mountaineering gear, skills and experience.
Your goals MUST be time-oriented. Compost your “someday/maybe” mentality. If you are serious about achieving a goal, it’s never going to happen “someday”. It’s never going to “maybe happen if I get lucky enough.” The “someday/maybe” mentality is an unconscious distraction we use when we aren’t truly committed to our goals, or when we aren’t ready to step up and take responsibility.
If you want to lose weight, set a deadline for how much you will lose, and by when. Then, reverse engineer. If you give yourself 6 months to shed 30 pounds (by June 1st, 2013), you need to let go of 5 pounds each month. This is a whopping 1.25 pounds each week. Not bad when you break it down into achievable goals, right?
I believe that ethics are more critical now than ever before. We live in a world where our actions can have profound impact on others. We are also in an era of information and awareness. For example, most of us are aware that Chinese-manufactured furniture and food processing trades cheap goods for a long-term high cost. Most people are alarmed to learn that many cocoa farms utilize child labor. What matters is whether this information compels us to change our decisions in favor of more compassionate choices, even if we have to adjust our goals a bit in the process. At a minimum, do no harm.
Responsible Goals (ability to respond):
Responsibility is simple the ability to respond. How are you responding to the challenges you face? Without challenges, we would not grow, so embrace them. But craft a plan to help you grow, not crumble, under the pressure. For myself, my personal goal is bringing me outside of my familiar realm this year. I want to help 10,000 people (within three years or less) increase their health and improve their mental and emotional landscape. So far, I’m on track, and I know this because I’ve outlined SMARTER goals that help me measure my progress.
Taking on this task, which is much larger than myself, is opening myself to entirely new responsibilities. In order to be responsible to others, I must start by being responsible with myself.
Here is my basic plan that helps give me the ability to respond to new challenges with daily goals:
- Daily meditation, 20-40 minutes
- Daily breathing practice, 20-30 minutes
- Regular exercise (walking, yoga, gym)
- Daily gratitude
- Honest, open assessment about my strengths (and building a team around me of people who complement my weaknesses)
- Surround myself with smarter, more accomplished people to inspire me
- Food & sleep to support my well-being
- Keep a clear vision of where I think I’m heading, while allowing room for flexibility
When identifying your goal, ask yourself the following:
- Am I willing to commit my time, money and energy to this?
- Am I willing to accept the short-term discomfort that pursuing this goal may present in order to gain the long-term rewards? This includes resistance or criticism from people who feel threatened by my commitment.
- Do I have the right support system?
- Is this goal in line with my values and beliefs?
- Will this goal benefit me and those who care about me?
Now, to be SMARTER, try these three things:
1. Write your goals down.
2. Review them regularly.
3. Take stock in who’s part of your support network. Who do you need to add (or subtract) from your team? Be honest. Create the most supportive team possible. Tell them what you need, and let them hold you accountable.
You can do this. I believe in you.
Now, I want to hear from you! What is your top goal this year?