“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”
Earl Nightingale, American Speaker and Author
We live in a busy world, where everyone fights for our attention. You wake up and your inbox is already full of emails telling you what to do, where to go, what to buy, even trying to tell you what you want in your life. You go to work, and you are stretched between someone else’s priorities and desired outcomes. At home, you try to be present with your family, who are very clear in telling you what they want from you, or even clearer in manifesting what they don’t want. There is very little time for your own development or personal goal setting.
Therefore, if you want your 2024 to be successful, it is essential to work on the clarity around setting your SMART goals. In my latest blog, I would like to offer you my extended version of the SMART technique.
When you are specific with your goal, you programme your brain to spot opportunities and behave in a way that you desire. You may want to consider questions like:
- What is it that I would like to achieve?
- What makes this goal important?
- Who do I need to become to achieve that?
- Who may need to be involved?
As an NLP Practitioner, I would also like to encourage you to use the Compelling Futures exercise to help you connect with the experience of your success. Imagine your success in the present tense and how you can experience it through your senses. What can you:
- See? You may see a room full of your peers and senior stakeholders, who are engaged in your presentation. You can see the last slide and you recognise that you managed to go through it smoothly and with confidence. Maybe you catch a glimpse of your own reflection in the glass door, and you are pleased with your body language and presence.
- Hear? Is it silence as the audience is listening, praise from a particular person or questions showing that people are intrigued by your ideas and want to know more?
- Feel? Where is your energy? How can you name your feelings? Being grounded? Powerful? Present.
- Any taste or smell if you want.
Measuring your success helps you stay motivated and have the feeling that you are on track to achieve your goal. We tend to be precise, e.g. ‘I would like to increase my LinkedIn connections by 200’. According to James Clear, rather than focusing only on the bottom line, we should also define the top number, as it allows us to keep the balance between effort and sustainability. We shall correct this to ‘increase my LinkedIn connections by at least 200 but no more than 250’.
If the nature of our goal can mean that sometimes it is hard to measure success, we may want to really break it down into small steps. If you want to get better at giving presentations, we may want to explore what ‘better’ means. Examples may include: eliminating ‘freeze’ moments to zero; including 3 to 5 engaging questions to the audience; sustaining the confidence in communication during 80-90% of the time; or successfully answering questions at the end of your presentation 80% of the time.
As an alternative, we can also use a coaching reference scale. If 0 means you are not great at presentations at all and 10 you are fantastic, where are you now? Where would you like to be? What would that mean?
I find this one of the most crucial and as a working parent myself, coaching many parents in corporate organisations, I refer to the context we are in quite a lot. What is possible? Take a moment and bring your awareness to your responsibilities and commitments. Consider the support that you can get from your team, stakeholders, partners, family and social groups. Think about other goals that you may have and may need to put some effort into. You may want to consider prioritising your goals, or maybe delegating/ dropping some of your current tasks and obligations to make time and space for your new success.
If I were challenged to choose another word here instead of relevant, I would suggest ALIGNED. If it doesn’t work for you, you can keep relevant in the below questions.
- How is this goal aligned with your personal values, beliefs and identity?
- How is this goal aligned to a wider business strategy?
- How is this goal aligned with your social systems (family, friends, etc)?
Following Marshall Goldsmith’s Triple A’s concept (‘The Earned Life’), we can also ask: How is your ambition (goal) aligned with your actions (what you are doing now) and aspirations (who you would like to become)? If you reach alignment in all those different systems, you will be unstoppable.
Setting a deadline gives us a sense of urgency and prevents procrastination. When we set long-term goals, it is also advisable to break a big goal down and plan a few deadlines for key milestones. When you start moving to blocking time in your calendar for certain conversations, events, and reflections your success is becoming a reality.
On a final note, I would like to add a few tips for setting your goals:
- Write your SMART goals down. According to Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, people are 42% more likely to carry out their goals just by writing them down.
- Creating a visual representation of your SMART goal as images activate the right part of your brain. You may consider vision boards, forms of mind mapping, or just an image on your desktop or phone screen. It is a constant reminder of where you are going.
- Find an accountability partner and share your goal with them. Choose someone who you can trust, who would not judge or give you unnecessary advice.
- Evaluate your goal. Take time to reflect on your progress and the relevance of your goal and adjust your course if necessary.
- Reward yourself – celebrate your success, pause and learn from it.
I wish you great success in 2024 and if you need any support in setting your SMART goals for the year ahead and partnering with you on your journey, please reach out to arrange your no-obligation discovery call.