Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
I’ve read (/listened to) Alice in Wonderland more than once and every time, I find myself wondering if the whole story was allegory that could have been more accurately titled: The Effects of Narcotics on Young Impressionable Minds.
Joking aside, the part quoted above is quite profound. It highlights why goals are important, because how would you know which way to go if you don’t know where you’re going? How can you hit an unknown target? How can you score a goal in football if the goals were invisible?
Goals help streamline your efforts, and prioritize your actions. In a previous post, I wrote about building habits, but maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe the concept of goals resonates better with you because goals are more tangible, and they’ve got deadlines [since changing habits is like a lifetime subscription].
Before expounding on the acronym SMARTY, a general rule is to write your goals down. On paper. On a white board. It doesn’t matter where you write them down but it does matter that you do. Just get those misty vague goals out of your head as they become more real when they’re written down. And also, stick to 3-5 goals per year in the areas that matter most to you – health, mental, spiritual, relationships – because it’s very easy to be overwhelmed with far too many goals.
So maybe you’re wondering what the ingredients are for setting SMARTY goals? And what are SMARTY goals anyway? Isn’t the famous acronym SMART? Read on to find out…
1.Make your goals Specific. It helps to turn your goal into an impressionist art piece instead of an abstract one. So instead of saying you’re going to “Write something sometime this year,” how about “Write at least 52 blog posts this year about <insert your topic here>”?
2.They have to be measurable. The importance of this lies in knowing whether or not you’ve made progress. Some people might go overboard and turn their exercise program/calorie intake into graphs and charts. Others might just measure the time spent on their goals to reach the 10,000 hour mark required to be an expert (a concept that Malcolm Gladwell popularized in Outliers).Then there are those minimalists who love tracking their goals in binary terms as either DONE or NOT DONE (famous habit trackers used in this case include coach.me app or Don’t Break The Chain printables). Whatever method you select, it doesn’t matter, just remember,
You can’t improve what you can’t measure”Tweet This
3. Make your goals Action-oriented. So while you’re formulating your grand plan to make a dent in the universe, make sure you know what you need to do. Sleeping, eating pizza and just winging it won’t work. What would help, however, is to divide your Mega-Goal into Mini-goals and start from there. So turn your “lose 10 pounds” goal to “lose 1 pound” and get your motivation level up from there.
Precaution: Don’t celebrate achieving your mini-goals by taking actionable steps to sabotage the very goal you’ve achieved (pointing to those digging into 1 kilo of chocolate cake after discovering they’ve lost 1 pound).
4. Your goals must be Realistic…for your personal sanity, more than anything else. At some point people in the personal development field recognized they needed a fine print loophole for those who want to set really impossible goals like becoming President of United States without an American passport or finishing a PhD by the age of three. In other words,
“You can do anything you set your mind to.”*Terms and conditions apply
5. Goals must be Time-bound. Aaah…deadlines. Don’t we love deadlines? Especially when they whoosh right over our heads? But deadlines are important because of the sense of urgency associated. Enough said.
6. Know your “Y”. Your goals must be meaningful to you. You need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. A lot of people fail because they don’t even understand their motivation behind their goals (and sometimes said goals are not even their own goals).
Now of course, when explained this way, goal setting seems like a science with all these steps and rules…but it doesn’t have to be. It can also be an art if you allow yourself to experiment. Instead of being a cook and sticking to the recipe of goal setting, be a chef and get creative about it. You can ditch the graphs and find another form of tracking or keep a vision board instead of writing the goals in words. Just remember while it’s good to tick off items off your to-do list, it’s more important to pour your heart into the work you’re ticking off.
Last but not least, remember that we need to wander, even if we get lost, because sometimes it takes getting lost to find your way. Tweet this
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