I know it’s kind of late to be talking about goal-setting since New Years Resolution time has passed, and about 80% of the general population has already given up on them. I’m running a little late.
I already set some good high-level goals, but I know they’re not done yet because I need to get more specific. So I’m in the process of doing so. That got me thinking – what makes good goal-setting?
Remember in high school – or was it college? its’s all a blur to me anyhow – you were taught to make goals SMART (S=specific, M=measureable, A=attainable, R=realistic, T=timely)? That’s all fine and dandy, but there’s got to be more to it than that.
Before I get into it though, I have a slight problem with the good ol’ SMART acronym that I need to get off my chest. S, yes. M, yes. A, yes with a caveat. R, yes with a caveat. T, yes. Explanation:
A. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” – Walt Disney. Did anyone ever tell Walt Disney that his vision for a huge, magical theme park with mice in tuxedos and singing and dancing bears was unattainable? You betcha. So, this gets us into a discussion around visions vs. goals, which can be a meaty subject on its own. Here’s how I see it: a vision is your long-term picture of what you want in your life. Goals are how you get there.
So, should your goals be “attainable”? Yes, these are the stepping stones to attaining your big, scary vision. BUT, they should be on “the teetering edge.” As James Ray would say, they should be set so you don’t know whether they excite you or scare the shit out of you.
R. See “A” above. I always thought the two were the same thing, but for the sake of having a clever acronym were split into two. (“SMAT” doesn’t sound as cool as “SMART.”)
Now that that’s off my chest, onto my goal setting guidelines:
- My goals are SMART, as we discussed above.
- My goals always span 5 categories: physical, mental, relational, spiritual, and financial. Well-being encompasses all aspects of life, so I strongly believe that you need to give attention to all areas. Some may get more attention than others at any one time, but there should never be one that is completely neglected. I typically have one or two goals per category.
- My goals inspire me. You are never going to achieve them if they don’t spark some kind of fire in you. If it’s just words on paper, that’s all they’ll ever be.
- My goals are on the teetering edge. Again, see discussion above. They’re one step beyond what my initial gut reaction says I’m capable of.
- My goals are written down. Writing them down brings them one step closer to becoming reality. If they’re just floating in your head, they’re likely to be forgotten. Also, writing them down sends a strong signal to your unconscious (a.k.a. subconscious) mind that you’re committed.
- My goals are written in the first person, are in present tense, and include a statement of gratitude. Setting your goals as “I am measuring at X% bodyfat, and am so grateful for it” or “I am so grateful now that I donate $Y to Charity Z once a month” is so much more powerful than “I want to weigh X lbs” or “To write Y blog posts every month.” It sends a strong signal to your unconscious it’s already here and this is who you are. In a great post about New Years Resolutions vs. Goals, Tim Brownson, UK qualified Life Coach, says it “forc[es] [yourself] to view [yourself] differently.”
- My goals are broken down into 1-year goals and then further broken down into 1-month goals. Obviously I set my 1-month goals on a monthly basis.
- I reserve the right to revisit and reshape my goals. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a cop out. I’m not saying that you should change your goal just because you’ve gotten lazy. Sometimes you may discover down the road a goal doesn’t align with your vision. Or maybe you underestimated the commitment required for another goal, and this one has to give way a little. Whatever the case, sometimes goals have to change. As long as it’s truly for a good reason, that’s okay.
I highly encourage you dedicate some good, quality time to goal setting. It provides great clarity for what you want in your life, and is a great way to get motivated, inspired, and focused for the upcoming year. I know it’s done that for me, and I’m ready to take on 2009!
Feel free to post some of your goal-setting guidelines as well!
To your health, prosperity, and happiness,
Julie (The Fitness Wife)