In the last blog post, I shared a simple 5-step solution to setting and achieving your goals for 2016. One of the steps was to make your goals SMART. If you haven’t checked out that post, do so now.
Traditionally, SMART stood for:
- Achievable (or Attainable)
Management experts would, and still do, recommend that your goals are SMART, otherwise you’ll not be able to achieve them easily.
However, many people still struggle even after they have created SMART goals. I did struggle for a long time until I learnt a second level of SMART that has made goal setting and achievement a breeze. As usual, since this worked well for me, I shared it with my clients and they too have benefited from the process.
A Different Level of SMART Goal Setting
I use the NLP (Neuro-Linguistics Programming) method of goal setting, which introduces a second level of SMART. These two levels are:
- Specific and Simple
- Measurable and Meaningful to you
- Achievable and As if you have already attained it
- Realistic and ecologically Responsible
- Time-bound and Towards what you want
Let’s take a close look at each element.
1. Specific and Simple
Get very clear about what you want.
“I want to start a business” is not specific.
“I am going to start a graphic design business, working with entrepreneurs” is specific
Make your goal statement very short while still conveying all the necessary information. Think of having to pay 10,000/- for each word in your statement and see how much money you save by removing unnecessary words.
2. Measurable and Meaningful
Your goal should have a way of identifying whether you have achieved it or not. Some goals need a metric (number) while others describe a state of being (e.g. “a more fulfilling relationship”). With the non-metric measurement, come up with a way of describing how it will feel, look or sound like when you achieve the goal.
When setting business goals, remember to identify the gross income (total amount of sales) and the net income (what remains after paying expenses and taxes). If you don’t do this, you may set what you think is a great goal, but you’re left with practically nothing after making payments.
Why do you want to achieve this goal? Why is it important to you? In the book Goals, Brian Tracy recommends that you come up with at least 50 reasons WHY you want to achieve your goal. The more reasons you can come up with, the more meaningful the goal will be to you.
3. Achievable and As if
Make your goal something that you can achieve while stretching beyond your comfort zone. It should also be something that you are in control of and not have to rely on other people to achieve it for you. Women are especially great at setting goals for their significant others such as deciding to live in a certain area and then trying to push the man to achieve this goal. So don’t set your goal so high that it becomes a block on its own, and don’t set goals for other people.
As if you have achieved it
One of the keys to NLP goal-setting is being able to imagine that you have achieved your goal. Ask yourself, “If I already had this goal, would I still want it?” This question can bring up some surprising answers if you take time to reflect on it. Don’t work hard on goals that you will regret having achieved.
4. Realistic and ecologically Responsible
This is one of the areas where I see people sabotaging themselves the most. For example, you may want to start a business and earn millions within the next 6 months while working full-time, but upon close examination, you find that you don’t have the required 10-12 hours to work on your business part-time each week.
And while it may work out for you, chances are higher that starting a business and making millions within 6 months is not realistic or achievable. When you set short-term goals that are way beyond your capacity at the moment, you’re effectively paving the way for self-sabotage.
Who will be affected when you’re busy working on your goal(s) and in what way? For example, if you’re married, in a relationship or have children, how will these people be affected when you take on a goal that mops up all your free time? How will you balance between working on your goal, your job and family and leave some free time for yourself?
Ecological responsibility plays a huge role in my life because my family comes first in everything I do. People get shocked when I tell them that I have 2 phone lines and very few people other than close friends, family and my 1-1 coaching clients have access to my personal line (I call it my ‘secret service’ line). I’ve also set strong boundaries around family time and rarely take calls between 6pm and 8pm as this time belongs to my family. Working on Sundays is also out of the question.
It took time to set these boundaries and any goal I’m working on must first meet these criteria before I can take it up. Of course it means that I say “No” to a lot of things such as not attending most evening networking events, but this has also helped me be very selective about the events and activities I want to engage in and I only give these events 2 evenings a month.
5. Time-bound and Towards what you want
Brian Tracy teaches that a goal is a dream with a deadline. Without a deadline, you will not feel compelled to make a move and you will procrastinate. In the previous post, I mentioned that some people get more motivated as the year comes to a close and having a deadline will give you the same charge. The closer you come to the deadline, the more likely you will give it your all if you haven’t already achieved the goal. Make sure your timeline is realistic so if you have a big goal, break it down into sub-goals that also have deadlines.
Towards what you want
Is your goal taking you towards what you want or away from it? One of the things I probe for when someone requests me to help them start a business is the reason they want the business. Sadly, most of the time, people want to start a business to run away from a job they hate, or to get enough money to escape from a relationship that’s not working.
These are not good reasons to set a goal because when your desired outcome is to escape, you will still carry your negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviours with you. Within a short time, you will find the same challenges happening in your life even if you’ve achieved your new goal. This is the reason people move to new jobs and then within 6 months to a year, you hear them voicing the same complaints that made them leave the previous job.
Finally, make sure that this goal is something that you want and not what other people want for you. Life is too short to spend it working so hard for things that you really don’t want or like.
Over to you
That’s my secret formula to SMART goal setting, one that I have used since 2011 and that has helped me achieve goals that I once thought I couldn’t.
It’s now time for you to take action…
November is a great time to start thinking of your goals for the next year. If you had set goals for this year, look through them and evaluate how well you’re doing. If you’ve achieved or are close to achieving your goals for this year, that’s great!
However, if you’re still struggling, check the goals against the two levels of SMART goal setting outlined above and if you still want to work on these goals, redo them using your new SMARTer knowledge.
I’d love to hear how this has worked for you so please share your experience and results in the comments. And if you liked this post, I’d appreciate if you share it with your contacts Facebook, Twitter or on email.
You may also like these resources:
- Chapter 4 of my book 12 Weeks to Startup provides a comprehensive guide to SMART goal setting.
- Brian Tracy’s free goal setting guide.
(Images courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net)