I was chatting with a friend at lunch the other day and he asked me my thoughts on traditional goal setting. The situation is that there’s so much focus on writing the right kind of goals. You’ve probably heard of SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. The ‘R’ sometimes represents Reasonable, but I think that’s too close to Achievable to warrant having it’s own letter.
Anyway, having SMART goals doesn’t necessarily get you taking action. The elements that are missing are these.
Goals need to be essential to your future. You need to get LEVERAGE on yourself so that you MUST achieve the goal. Think of all the reasons why achieving the goal is important and then all the reasons why not achieving the goal would be devastating. What this does is add EMOTION to your goals which makes them irresistible. We make decisions based on emotions and so to make the decision to move forward on your goal there needs to be a strong emotion attached.
The other aspect, which will make a difference is to associate short-term emotional gain from achieving the goal. For example, having the goal of becoming fit because it will mean you are feeling good in your seventies is so far off if you’re in your thirties or forties that there is no compulsion to start. What you need to do is create an IMMEDIATE EMOTIONAL REWARD. So taking the fitness example, remind yourself how good you feel while you exercise and immediately afterward. Your body will crave the immediate reward and exercising will be a positive activity both for the long and short term.
Finally, you need to focus your goals on the activities you need to perform, rather than the outcomes. These activities need to be habit-forming so that long-term permanent change can be affected.
So in addtion to SMART goals, do the following-
- Create strong emotional reasons to move forward
- Make the emotional rewards immediate, not long-term.
- Focus on activities, not outcomes
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
- Jimmy Dean