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If You Want to Get Bigger Things Done in 2018, Read This

If You Want to Get Bigger Things Done in 2018, Read This

You may think of Starbucks as a great place to grab a coffee, but they’ve actually got a fascinating goal that they’re aiming for. Their ambition is to be recognized as much for their commitment to social responsibility – as the quality of their coffee. And they want to reach this goal by 2020.[1]

To help reach this worthy ambition, Starbucks plans to offer sustainable coffee, eco-friendly stores, employment opportunities for military veterans (and their spouses), youth and refugees, and food share and community service.

How will they achieve these targets? The company is committed to planting 100 million trees to farmers by 2025, double the recycled content, recyclability and the reusability of Starbucks cups by 2020, hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses, and rescue 100 percent of food available to donate by 2020 in U.S. company-owned stores. (And many more.)

    This Starbucks’ plan is essentially based on the SMART goal principles. With a deadline of 2020 (just three years), they’re stretching their potential to get big things done as soon as possible.

    SMART Goal vs Stretch Goal

    In November 1981, George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company, published a paper titled: There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives. It’s believed that this was the first time the acronym SMART was written down.

    Maybe you’ve already known or tried a SMART goal, but let’s just have a recap of what SMART stands for:[2]

    • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
    • Measurable – quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
    • Assignable – specify who will do it.
    • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
    • Timeline – specify when the result can be achieved.

    This clear and simple framework has revolutionized the way many people and companies implement their goal setting.

    How about Stretch goals? Stretch goals allow you to stretch your imagination, potential and ability. It’s when our creativity and imagination comes up with what we believe are winning ideas – but we don’t necessarily have any concrete steps on how to achieve them. This can often make Stretch goals seem like make-believe, as the goals are often very challenging.

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    On the left, you can see a straight path leading to a country. This is how your SMART goal looks when in action. You have a clear direction and a definite goal.

    On the right, you can see a blurry, meandering path to an unknown continent. This is how your Stretch goal looks when in action. You have an uncertain route to take on the way to a goal that is so big – that you can’t be sure you’ll ever reach it.

      SMART Goals are Concrete but Rigid

      SMART goals offer a concrete plan of action so people know exactly what to do to achieve the desired goal. They are more motivating because the plan of action demonstrates how the goal is attainable. They also make visualizing progress easy, and missed targets can be spotted quickly.

        However, the focus on specific set targets to reach the goal can result in people missing the bigger picture. If the goals are too easy to achieve, then the potential is lost to attain greater success. For creative types, the rigidity of SMART goals may prove to be too robotic or dull.

          Stretch Goals are Daring but Vague

          Stretch goals inspire people to think BIG and push their limits of potential and ability. They allow people to keep their focus on the BIG picture, and encourage creative approaches because often unconventional ways are needed to achieve herculean goals.

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            But stretch goals can be demotivating. They lack concrete plans on how to get started, and how to progress and can lead to excessive risk-taking.

              Go SMART, or Stretch It?

              If you choose to go down the SMART goal route, you have the best chance of achieving your goal, but you may miss out on reaching your highest potential.

              On the other hand, if you choose to go down the Stretch goal route, you may push yourself to your limits, but ultimately fail to reach your desired destination.

                Clearly, SMART and Stretch goals have distinctive pros and cons. However, some circumstances will be best suited to one or the other.

                SMART goals are best when:

                • You have a vague plan, and have no idea how to turn the plan/idea into results.
                • You have a great idea/goal that you want to achieve, but you aren’t sure HOW to make it happen.
                • You need to kickstart yourself or your company into some action (e.g., reading one book a week, gaining 100 new customers a month).

                Stretch goals are best when:

                • You have a concrete plan, and you don’t see a problem making it happen. (It’s probably time to stretch it more!)
                • You want to break through stability and take your achievements to the next level (e.g., reading 3 books a week, gaining 500 customers a month).

                Discover the Sweet Spot

                Could there be a ‘middle way’ that combines the pros of each goal type while eliminating the cons? Yes, there certainly is.

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                If you’re not sure what goal type to choose, then instead, try combining the two goal types into one.

                  For example, if your goal is to be a competent guitar player, that would lend itself to being a SMART goal. With lessons and practice you could become a competent guitar player in under a year. However, why not blend in some Stretch goal thinking to inject some excitement into your goal. Dream big and outside of the box, and set your Stretch goal as: “To become a full-time, professional musician within three years.”

                  Now you have the best of both worlds. A short-term attainable goal, backed by a bigger, more inspiring dream.

                  Again, see yourself in the maze. Walking slowly through it, you know that you can eventually find your way out. However, imagine if you found a rocket in the maze, and you could instantly blast your way to freedom!

                  Start Achieving Right Now

                  Ready to start on the road to success? You just need to do three things:

                  1. Stretch your mind.
                  2. Get SMART.
                  3. Get working!

                  I’ll give you an example of this, so you can see how it’s done.

                  Imagine that you want to take up running as a hobby and a way to boost your health and fitness. If you lack any goals around this, you may run a few evenings, but then become demotivated and give up.

                  However, there is another way.

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                  Bring drama and stimulation to the table by choosing a Stretch goal of completing your first ever marathon.

                  Sounds too much? It should do, as the goal is designed to stretch your potential and ability. However – and here is the real secret – set yourself some SMART goals that specifically prepare you for the end destination… 26 miles of nonstop running!

                  Your SMART goals could include:

                  • Specific sub-goal: Run 7 miles without stopping.
                  • Measurable: Run twice around the park, no walking.
                  • Achievable?: Sure, if I run three times a week.
                  • Realistic?: Sure, if I wake up early every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
                  • Timeline: Run 3 miles this week, 4 miles next week, 5 miles…

                  I’m sure you get the idea.

                  By blending the power of SMART and Stretch goals, you can turn yourself into a super-achiever. And if you have your own company, you can begin putting it on the fast-track to major success.

                  So, Stretch, be SMART, and enjoy the journey!

                  Featured photo credit: Freepik via freepik.com

                  Reference

                  More by this author

                  Leon Ho

                  Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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                  Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                  Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

                  Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

                  Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

                  Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

                  Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

                  Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

                  Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

                  1. Make Time for You

                  If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

                  Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

                  Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

                  Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

                  For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

                  By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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                  2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

                  Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

                  Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

                  When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

                  It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

                  Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

                  3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

                  According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

                  For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

                  If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

                  4. Work on Your Personal Brand

                  Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

                  Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

                  What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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                  Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

                  Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

                  5. Be Accountable

                  Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

                  For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

                  When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

                  6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

                  All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

                  Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

                  Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

                  It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

                  7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

                  Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

                  It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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                  This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

                  If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

                  To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

                  For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

                  You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

                  8. Learn to Embrace Failure

                  Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

                  The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

                  In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

                  We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

                  However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

                  Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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                  “I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

                  9. Build Your Resilience

                  Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

                  Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

                  Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

                  In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

                  Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

                  10. Ask for Help

                  It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

                  No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

                  My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

                  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
                  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
                  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

                  Final Thoughts

                  You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

                  Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

                  More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

                  Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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