For the new year, be CLEVER about your smart goals
‘Tis the season to be jolly. ‘Tis also the season to be setting goals for the new year. The one goal-setting framework that almost all of us succumb to is S.M.A.R.T. This framework implies that if your goals are not specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time specific, then it is not worthy. Yet you must have set so many SMART goals that were ironically not so smart because you didn't get anywhere with it despite your best efforts. And you never understood why. You may even have spent a great deal of energy beating yourself up for it.
I too have gone through the disempowering experience of chasing after a SMART goal only to have failed. Then a motivational guru told me that there are no failures, only feedback. Change your strategy and get back on track. And off I went onto another cycle of SMART goal. Some I have achieved, but many more I have just given up on.
All these while I thought something must be very wrong with me. It was only after much searching and learning did I realise that it’s not me, it's the framework. SMART framework is just the tip of the motivational iceberg. It is a statement of intent that needs to addressed with much deeper thought than we usually accord to the process.
Let’s make our SMART goals C.L.E.V.E.R
I have learnt that the best type of intent and goals to go after are the ones that resonate with you and not just hyped up to get you excited for the moment.
Here, I propose six pointers for you to think deeper as part of your goal setting exercise.
We set goals based on our perceived potential. But the fuel that propels us towards that potential is the why. Too often, our whys come from the outside.
I will be <happy/successful/confident> when I <earn my first million/reach the summit of my talent/win the award>.
Many had achieved such goals after years of toiling only to find that they don't feel any happier or more successful than when they first started their journey. The truth is, feeling happy, successful and confident are just states of mind that you can already achieve today without having to chase after any goal.
It is better to walk the path of achievement already having a positive state of mind. The best fuel is to realise the potential that you believe is lying dormant in you.
Pick any one of your goals. Chances are somebody else has already achieved it. Who he and what can you learn from him so that you can cut your learning curve?
There are people within your reach that can help you achieve the different milestones in your path. Reach out to them. It might mean stepping out into a new circle of people. It’s going to be uncomfortable. But you will grow. Who knows, you might discover skills and talents within you that you never thought you had.
“Only if you want to be successful as badly as you want to breathe during an asthma attack, only then you will be successful,” says a motivational guru. Highly inspiring, but working yourself to the point of exhaustion also doesn't help the process.
You need to take into consideration pace. You have limited amount of energy and willpower. Ration it wisely. Like Marshall Goldsmith said, “The person planning and the person executing the plans are two different people.” You may plan with great vigour and motivation. When you execute, reality sets in, and you realise you can’t get to your goal as fast as you thought you could. There is no point in charging up the hill only to be too tired to enjoy the view.
If you studied science, you would know that velocity is not the same as speed. Velocity has a directional element to it. You need to go at a good pace, but you also need to check that you are going in the right direction.
While going at full steam in the wrong direction is utterly silly, many have been lured into opportunities that divert them completely off their intended path. If a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, a single step must start with a good compass. It helps you keep on your path, or at the very least, bring you back onto your path whenever you deviate.
Let’s face it, our journey towards a goal is affected by all the people and events in our lives. Think about the social and emotional support to get you started and keep you going. For some, you need to convince your loved ones. For others, you might need to search for these support systems. Either way, never start your journey thinking that you are motivated enough not to be affected by your environment or that you can do it all on your own.
All of us want more. But few know how much is enough. You want a million dollars. You get a million dollars. Then you want 5 million. Then you want 10, 15, 20. Heck, why not a billion dollars?
There is nothing wrong with wanting more. But knowing what is enough will help you change gears and keeps your values and priorities in line. Wanting more for the sake of having more is nothing but feeding your greed and ego. I believe that when we walk the path of never-ending more, we will change in ways that are not good for us.
As you approach the year 2017, be CLEVER about your goal. When a goal is big enough, you call it a dream. And dreams don't have an expiry date. Keep on keeping on.
Written by Dean Shams
Proofread by Grammarly