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

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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

                  How to Plan Your Day for a Healthy And Productive Life The Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life How to Organize Your Tasks With Weekly To-Do Lists How to Multitask Successfully to 10X Your Productivity How to Focus on Work Better and Boost Productivity

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                  Last Updated on June 1, 2021

                  10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

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                  10 Effective Ways To Make You a Fast Learner

                  The importance of learning cannot be underestimated. Learning empowers us to fulfill our ideas and realize our full potential. The speed of gaining new knowledge is practically as important as its volume. Who wouldn’t love to remember tons of information as quickly as possible?

                  If you want to start learning faster, you need a new approach towards the process which would enable you to comprehend the essence of the matter and relate it with new concepts you encounter.

                  The following 10 tips will help you become a fast learner:

                  1. Analyze Your Learning Style

                  Before you can start experimenting with different studying methods, you need to understand what type of learner you are:

                  Is your memory associated to sound?

                  Maybe you can remember what you were reading when a particular song was playing? If this is your case, then you fall into the category of auditory learners.

                  If you want to start studying more efficiently, then it would be wise to record the lectures and listen to them instead of reading textbooks.

                  Do you relate information to visual content?

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                  If you are a visual learner, you should implement images, graphs, charts, infographics, colorful lists, flashcards, and other types of visual content when you study.

                  Are you a physical learner?

                  If your learning style is not auditory or visual, then you might be a physical learner. Some students have too much energy; they tap their feet or play with a pen during lectures.

                  A walk before a lecture will calm your nerves down. You can try studying or listening to audio lectures during a walk. That will help you remember the information more quickly.

                  2. Use the Right EdTech Tools

                  Technology has the power of making everything easier. There are plenty of websites, online tools, and smartphone/tablet apps that will boost your skills of planning, writing, time management and brainstorming, etc.

                  One way of improving your productivity is using flashcards. You can make your own cards, but you can also download pre-made kits online:

                  • StudyBlue is one of the best online destinations when it comes to creating and discovering flashcards from all areas of study.
                  • If you are looking for a tool that makes the process of brainstorming more effective, then you should try PapersGear.
                  • You also need the SelfControl app, which will eliminate all distractions when you need to stay focused.
                  • Quizlet is another website you should bookmark; it offers study tools that will transform the learning process into a fun activity.
                  • Notella is an app that will help you take quick notes at any time.
                  • Brainscape is an educational platform that makes complex subjects easy by relying on cognitive science.
                  • You can also try Dragon Dictation, especially if you are an audio learner.

                  3. Train Your Brain to Accept New Information

                  Efficient studying is a habit. Your brain needs constant training if you want to improve your focus and complete complex tasks without taking breaks.

                  One way to achieve this goal is to create a private learning space in your home. You’ll also need a specific time of day that you’ll devote to studying. That will make your brain ready to accept the information it gets, so you’ll notice you’re starting to learn much faster by the day.

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                  4. Get Some Exercise

                  You are aware of the fact that physical activity is good for your body, but your brain needs it too!

                  Light exercise, such as yoga, can help you learn much faster. If you are inactive throughout the day, your body will want to move, so it will be difficult for you to stay focused.

                  If, on the other hand, you canalize your energy through light training sessions, you will be ready to study productively.

                  5. Work on the Ambiance

                  If you have a noisy neighborhood or a working environment full of distractions, you won’t be able to learn or study no matter how hard you try.

                  If you want to learn quickly, you need a quiet, distraction-free environment that won’t disturb the mind in any way. Such a peaceful place will set you in learning mode as soon as you find yourself in it.

                  6. Take a Lot of Notes

                  Only few people are capable of remembering information as they read it. If you don’t belong to this category of privileged learners, then you absolutely need to start taking notes.

                  This simple learning method will force you to think about the essence of the material. It will also give you a nice framework that will help you review the things you’ve learned.

                  Write down only the most important information. That will help you remember all the other things you’ve learned.

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                  Here’re some tips to take notes effectively: Why Successful People Take Notes And How to Make It Your Habit

                  7. Make Mind Maps

                  Mind maps are among the best tools to speed up the learning process. Your mind will process information effectively if you create a visual representation of the things you’re about to learn.

                  You can create a nice mind map in the old-school way: take a large sheet of paper and organize all facts and explanations. Use pictures, note-cards, and other symbols you can think of. Group similar items together and connect them with colorful pens.

                  Some tips mind-mapping here: How to Mind Map: Visualize Your Cluttered Thoughts in 3 Simple Steps

                  Of course, you can also use an online mind mapping tool if you want to save yourself some time.

                  8. Experiment with Memorization Methods

                  Memorizing is often misused in the process of studying. Some people memorize whole sentences, paragraphs and lectures without grasping their essence.

                  However, memorization can be useful when you need to learn definitions and classifications really quickly. Don’t avoid this technique if you want to fill your brain with information without wasting any time.

                  Try this if you want to memorize more and faster: How to Memorize More and Faster Than Other People

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                  9. Find the Right Context

                  Memorization works solely in times of urgency. If you want to learn in the most effective manner, then you need to have context for information.

                  Find an aspect that’s interesting for you; try to research for related information, and you’ll discover the joy of learning.

                  The first step? Jot down as much information and as many ideas as possible: How Simply Jotting Down Ideas Can Make You Smarter

                  With time, this practice will make you a faster learner.

                  10. Study Every Day

                  It will take some time before you get used to a daily studying routine, but your mind will eventually grasp the habit.

                  The more frequently you study, the less time it will take for you to remember the things you read.

                  If you start studying as soon as possible after you have learned some new concepts, it won’t take long at all for you to get ready for an exam. Now that sounds really good, doesn’t it?

                  More to Help You Learn Quicker

                  Featured photo credit: Becca Tapert via unsplash.com

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