GOALS: “SMART” to “SMARTER”
Honestly, inadvertently, I missed a deadline and instead of writing this in the last days of 2020, I am writing this on January 2, 2021. Time for me to get a new calendar system! Actually, this has turned out to be one of those “lemonade from lemons” moments. Let me explain.
As I was watching the morning news shows on New Year’s Day, there was a recurring theme. Beyond the news of the day, the trials, the tribulations, the ups, and the downs - came a topic that had likely appeared every year. Yet, this year the topic had some special meaning. You have likely heard the same thing, “set your GOALS!” All of the pundits and talking heads were discussing our need to turn the page and flip the switch. Using the first of a new year to set some direction, objectives – and GOALS!
Another thing we tell ourselves, relative to goal setting is, “this year will be different!” We can set goals, stick with them, and achieve. Self-talk. We can do it. That said, statistics may not be on our side when it comes to making choices to stick with a goal, even when everything tells us we should. Check this out.
Findings, collected as part of the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index from January 2014 through June 2015, discovered, “Americans who have had a heart attack may not be making the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of having another one. Those who have had a heart attack are significantly more likely than those who have never have had a heart attack to smoke, be obese, and experience stress. And those who have survived a heart attack are much less likely to exercise regularly.” (Sharecare 11.18.2015)
In a word…WOW! After a heart attack, with our life on the line, we still find it hard to set a goal, much less stick with it by adopting healthy actions and modifying lifestyle behaviors.
But hang on. There is a process, one which many of you will have heard of, that comes into play here. A planful and proven approach to not only set goals but to achieve goals. The acronym is S.M.A.R.T. Let’s take a look at each element and break it down in simple and actionable terms and add the all-important way to test each element:
• State exactly what you want to achieve
• Follow the tactic of “simply stated”
• Use common language to the business, industry, organization, or personal vernacular
• Use action words
Test: Is this specific, simply-stated, and action-oriented?
• Decide on metrics or factors that mark the success
• Provide a way to evaluate
• Consider correct valuations
• Have a data-driven target
Test: Is this measurable using the right metrics?
• Chose a goal within your scope
• Consider your sphere of influence and delivery
• Ensure it be done – possible for you to attain or accomplish
Test: Is this “doable” or are you “defeated” already?
• Makes sense - within your role or career path or within personal objectives and plans
• It “fits” you
• It “matters” to you
• Improves the business or your personal situation
• Promotes fulfillment of your personal or professional goals and objectives
Test: Does it play a distinctive role in your personal or professional vision or mission?
• Set the deadline
• Be specific
• Watch “optimism” - be realistic and not overly zealous
• Watch “caution” - be realistic and not overly reluctant
Test: This will be done by ___________!
You have likely seen or applied this approach. But, honestly, have you had consistent success? I know I have set goals, used the S.M.A.R.T. model and approach. Yet, came up short.
Recently, Lori Stohs Consulting Group conducted a workshop on GOAL setting with one of our clients. We shared the S.M.A.R.T. approach and added two additionally elements that I regard as game-changers. S.M.A.R.T. becomes S.M.A.R.T.E.R. It works like this:
• Determine when you will check-in on progress
• Look at what is going well and what has been challenging
• Monitor the small steps to achievement to keep it fresh, current and real
Test: No Dust Allowed! Meaning - do not set the goal and put it on a shelf to collect dust!
• Stay flexible
• Focus on the “end in mind”
• Try not to feel defeated and give up prematurely
• Adjust, flex, shift as necessary
• If “stuff” happens, change the goal but keep striving
Test: Be Real!
Finally, let’s close with this reminder on how to monitor and manage your goals while they are in process. Approach your Goals with:
- Clarity: Goals need to be clear and easily understood in order for them to be most effective.
- Challenge: Good goals have a high enough level of difficulty that you must push yourself to achieve them.
- Commitment: You must be “all in”. Without a high level of commitment, it is difficult to achieve anything, especially a challenging goal.
- Dialogue + Feedback: You need dialogue with people you trust that can support your accountability. Those who will be in your corner to support, affirm, challenge and cheer!
- Complexity: The more complex the goal, the more time needed to achieve it. Good goals don’t need to be complex but understanding how complex your goals are is an important part of goal setting.
Finally, it’s about mindset. You have what it takes. But remember, don’t just be S.M.A.R.T, be
S.M.A.R.T.E.R. And even though I gave you a lot of content, just start. One goal at a time. One step at a time gets us closer to success.
Happy New Year!