I’m addicted to setting goals. It all started when I set a goal to quit smoking, (which I achieved). Next, I set a goal to reach a certain level professionally by the age of 30. Soon everything turned into a goal – goals from toning up to stretching out, from creating YouTube videos to reading more books. I had a goal to cook healthy while also having a goal to learn how to bake! It was at this point I realised I had a problem, and we have not even started talking about the goals I set for myself in the office.
You see the problem was I fell in love with the SMART goal. It seemed so clever and easy that I felt everything in my life should have some SMART. For anyone who has not yet being introduced to this alluring acronym, let me explain what it means.
Specific – What exactly do you want to achieve?
Measurable – What evidence will you have when your goal is achieved?
Attainable – What resources do you need, and do you have access to them?
Relevant – What is the objective of the goal?
Timebound – What is the timeframe to achieve this goal?
Looks fool proof doesn’t it? It appears on the surface to be the perfect template for both personal and professional goals. As I stood in my kitchen with a paleo cookbook in one hand and a freshly baked brownie in the other I had to ask myself – how have I found myself in a position where achieving goal will cause me to fail at the other? And it all came down to the R. Relevance. All of my shiny SMART goals seemed perfect in isolation, but when I looked to link them to something bigger I found that many are untethered.
I needed to slow down. Luckily this also became a useful way of reminding what that looks like for goal setting. So here we go – our second acronym!
Simple – This goal should have one element and be easy to explain to friends or family.
Long – This goal should look farther than all your other goals. This is completely personal. If you are someone who usually sets a goal for 12 weeks, try 2 years. If you set yearly goals, try setting one for 5 or even 10 years’ time.
Opportunity: This is an opportunity to do something great. Approach the goal with a positive mindset and healthy optimism.
Why: Why is this goal important to your life? Imagine what life will be like when you achieve this goal and think about whether that is a place you want to be.
I chose to take one of my personal goals and SLOW it down. I was then able to look at my other goals and anchor them by checking their Relevance to my SLOW goal. Most of them are still on my list – although my plan to become a YouTube sensation in 3 months has been crossed off! Next stop is my professional goals and I’m looking forward to SLOWing them down and reaping the rewards.