Setting SMART GOALS:

I was chatting to a mate the other day…

His teenage kids were “DOING HIS HEAD IN”

He, like most of us, thought he’d done his best to raise well-behaved little people, but try as he might, what he’d got was the opposite. 

After a heartfelt and emotional conversation, we concluded that maybe, he was setting goals for his kids without really having them in mind. 

His ideas of what they should and shouldn’t be, were different to their own.

I explained the BE – DO – HAVE model.

We decided to try out an experiment. 

A few days later, he sat down with them and asked them to write down what they wanted to HAVE in life. 

He asked them to write down a list of all of the things that they really wanted. They put everything from Degrees, gadgets, money, houses and statues built in their honor. 

Next he asked them what he thought they needed to DO to get the things that they wanted. They wrote down things like get money, get jobs, work hard.

Finally he asked them, “Who do you think you need to BE, in order to DO the things that you need to DO if you want to get the things you want to HAVE?” 

This was by far the hardest question for them to answer but he pushed them. After some time, they came up with a list.

  • I need to be a hard worker
  • I need to be someone that takes my studies seriously
  • I need to be someone who likes to learn new things
  • I need to be a salesman
  • I need to read books
  • I need to have a growth mindset
  • I need to be good with money
  • I need to be well organised

The changes happened almost immediately. 

Invariably and without really knowing it, the teenagers had set some clear goals for the things they wanted.

All of a sudden, they started to focus on the things that meant something to THEM. And before he knew it, his unruly and unpleasant kids became disciplined, organised and focussed.

Kids, like adults have their own mind and typically put themselves first. You can’t control what they do. You can only control the rewards, consequences, consistency, and responsiveness. 

Beyond that, the experiment also taught me an important lesson. 

We can’t simply copy and paste other people’s goals and expect to achieve them. 

Our goals belong to us, and we alone need to take charge of them.

So how do we set goals? We go into detail about them. We see the bigger picture, and we break them down into actionable steps that help them get there. It’s an oldie but goldie, but to make sure your goals are reachable, they should be SMART.

Your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Let’s take a look at each one of these:

Specific goals

In a Ted Talk by Reggie Rivers, he says that if you focus only on your end goal you won’t achieve it. You’ll also need to control your behaviours that lead you to your goals.

For example, if you decide to go on a weight loss diet, you’ll probably start with a goal – I want to lose ten pounds by the end of the year. But if you only focus on that, it’ll be hard to achieve it. 

Because the next thing you’ll do is go from your goal to the scale. And when the results don’t happen overnight, you’ll give up. Essentially, that’s why you have to be very specific about your goals. It helps you to see the bigger picture.

You need to control everything you eat and don’t eat. You’ll need to get up and exercise, every day. And you’ll need to say no to yourself even when you’re desperately craving that piece of chocolate cake.

Specific goals go into detail. What behaviour do you need to change in order to achieve the goals? What habits do you need to break? The more specific, the easier it is for your brain to develop a strategy to achieve them.

Measurable goals

When you’re setting goals, you’ll need to be able to track your progress. The only way you can do that is by making them measurable. Otherwise, you may think you’re progressing when you’re actually not.

How do you measure your goals? Set targets. Quantify the goals. It could be that you want to run 1 km a day or to consistently read 15 pages of a book daily. By making it measurable, you can adjust your life in a way that helps you achieve them.

Making measurable goals also gives you a sense of excitement as you get closer to achieving it. It gives you the motivation and push to keep trying and to keep going. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of it.

Attainable goals

Your goal should stretch your abilities but still remain possible.

There’s no point of setting a goal if you can’t work towards it. 

An achievable goal will answer these two questions:

  1. How can I accomplish this goal?
  2. How realistic is this goal based on the resources that are available?

Your goals must make sense to you. Yes, we’re all dreamers and we all envision the perfect future. But what’s the point of setting a goal which is not realistic? It’s a complete waste of your time.

Let’s take a look at these two examples:

Person A: I’m going to increase our company’s social media following by 500%.

Person B: I will implement a new hashtag strategy in our social media platforms and measure the increase in followers every two weeks for the next quarter to evaluate its success.

Which of the two seems more attainable?

An attainable goal encompasses all the aspects of the other goals. It is one that you can reach given your current mindset, motivation level, timeframe, skills and abilities.

With that said, setting a realistic goal begs you to look deep within yourself and your capabilities. You’ll need to be really honest with yourself. It’s not only about what you want to achieve but also what you can achieve.

Relevant goals

A relevant goal matters and makes sense to you.

Because at the end of the day, if your goal doesn’t matter to you, then there’s no point in having it.

You can’t take someone else’s goal and make it your own. You should only work towards things that align directly with your intrinsic values.

So how do you make sure that your goal is relevant? It should answer these questions:

  1. Does this seem worthwhile?
  2. Is this the right time?
  3. Am I the right person to achieve this goal?
  4. Is it applicable in my current situation?

Time-bound goals

I watched a great Youtube video the other day that says “Your day is your life.” The speaker said that her awareness of her mortality makes her conscious of the fact that she may not have tomorrow. So, she aims to work with today. Within these 24 hours, how are you tapping into the areas in your life that matter to you?

When we set goals, they may seem like a dream. But when we break them down in terms of time, it becomes much easier.

What do you aim to have done by the end of today, this week, this month, and this year? Making time-bound goals creates an all-important sense of urgency and necessary focus, while helping to set priorities and prompting action.

In conclusion…

Setting goals should be a deliberate and intentional effort. You have to sit down and actually reflect on what really matters to you. Setting goals will help you turn your dreams into reality by guiding you on exactly how to achieve them.

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.”  ~Andrew Carnegie

Need help figuring out how to achieve your goals? Get in touch, let’s have a chat about you and your dreams, and what needs to happen to get you there.

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