The New SMARTER way
Goals. Those lofty and mostly elusive ambitions that we set with all the best intentions in the world. Dare I say, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’…
Our goals much like that intrepid road, are all but vanquished in vain hope when there is no system in place to give them wings to fly. In the remarkable book ‘Atomic Habits’ James Clear sums it up superbly:
‘You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems’.
Chunking it down
In essence it is more about falling in love with the journey of achieving the goal then it is to simply think about the outcome. That is why I am a big fan of what I call the ‘chunking principle. How does this process work? Very simply:
Take a goal you desire to achieve within 12 months
Break that goal down into 12 monthly milestones
Break down those 12 milestones into weekly objectives.
What we have done here is taken a 12-month goal and broken it down into 12 parts so that there are now 12 milestones to achieving that goal. Then we have set weekly objectives to achieve those milestones.
To recap we have:
Set a yearly goal = The destination
Set 12 milestones = The journey
Set Weekly objectives = The systems
Perception is everything and the lens in which we see the world is filtered with judgments of ‘self-worth’, ‘self-confidence’, even ‘self-loathing’. The goals I set last year just didn’t happen. Why is that so? All the self-talk in the world will not move you toward your goals.
Question: What is currently getting in the way, call it an obstacle, of you achieving a goal you have set presently or in the past? Remember the greatest lessons are learned from past ‘failures’.
How much worth do you place on yourself achieving that goal you have set out. Have you tainted it with too much doubt or the cursed words of others? Asking ourselves the hard questions will often open up space for us to then assess the worthiness of the very goal we have set. Before actioning our goals, I believe we need the time and space to reflect on the essence of the goal.
Enter the New Smarter Way.
In a nutshell, it is:
A systematic and reflective and way of perceiving the essence of goal setting.
Without further ado, I put forward a new way of formulating goals that fills in the missing pieces of a once gloriously acclaimed acronym know as SMART goal setting
I have kept the acronym with an added ‘ER’ to make goal setting SMARTER and more ambitious
The SMARTER Acronym stands for:
‘Be specific’! This cannot be any clearer than that. Being specific about the goal is also about measuring up what it will take to achieve the goal: Risk versus Reward.
Quite often when I ask students to set goals they come back with: ‘I want to earn more money; I want more clients’, precisely the road to hell they are paving with worthless and empty ideals.
How many clients? How much money?
I first came across this whilst studying positive psychology. It deeply resonated with me. If I set a meaningful goal, then I will be more emotionally invested. Hmmm I mumbled. Makes a truck load of emotional sense. Henceforth I have been preaching this.
What meaning does setting that goal bring to you?
If you find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place there may be one of 2 choices: Stick it out and persevere or else throw in the towel.
What if there was a third option to consider? Be flexible. Yes, sometimes a little bit of shape shifting takes the pressure and burden off striving to achieve a hard-fought goal.
Suppose you set a goal with an intended finish date and you found yourself stressed to high heavens. Go back to the ‘chunking principle I outlined earlier and spread out the load man, or woman!
Have you ever found yourself in this familiar scenario? Remember to be adaptable and flexible with that goal
Reward the process! Yes, rather than waiting to achieve the desired outcome celebrate the ‘small victories’ along the way. How you do that is entirely up to you. The important thing here is to come up with a method of celebrating whether that is through ‘delayed gratification’ such as: ‘When I finish my first milestone I am going to watch that movie or binge on popcorn. Whatever tickles your fancy here.
After setting your goal, note down how you will reward yourself when achieving each of the milestones you have set out. Go, do it!
One of the best methods I learned from Jack Canfield author of ‘Success Principles’ (which I highly recommend) is to create a multi layered goal approach. In other words, creating a set of categories such as:
Financial goal(s). Is it to become debt free?
Fitness/Health goal(s). Is it to do a movement practice every day?
Growth (personal or professional development) goal(s). Is it to read a new book every month?
Lifestyle goal(s). Is it to see a new country?
Performance goal (can be work related). Is it to become the GM or CFO?
Relationship goal(s). Is it to reach out and spend more time with an old friend?
Spiritual goal(s) is it to meditate for 5 minutes every day?
These are useful categories to begin with and are certainly not an exhausted list of possibilities.
Now it is your turn to theme your goals. C’mon, what are you waiting for…
We are as much emotional as we are rational beings. The two work together (along with our senses) to perceive the world around us. If we have set a goal that brings no meaning and we are not excited to go for, how long until we throw in the towel?
Getting excited about our goals is coupled with the way we celebrate the ‘small victories’ of our milestones we discussed earlier. Instead of the excitement fizzling out, we get to continually be excited through the small bits of dopamine hits we receive when achieving our milestones.
It is the way the poker machines and Facebook work. It is also how this process works in a far more positively yielding manner.
The process here needs to be a consistent one. The advice here? Every week, review your goals, your milestones and systems to ensure you are on track. If you have fallen behind, remember to be adaptive and flexibly slot it in to the next week or monthly milestone.
Setting aside time to review on a weekly basis will provide you the necessary tracking required to achieving your goal (s)
Recommendation:Get yourself a good old fashion diary or planner. The one that I use is ‘the Focus Planner’ by Michael Hyatt. There is a plethora of other options out there for you to explore.
Well that is it. My spin on the SMARTER method that I trust will help give you the guidance to successfully achieve your goals
Until next time, keep reaching
Tarek Michael Chouja
James Clear, Atomic Habits, page 27