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Why You Need a S.M.A.R.T. Goal Refresher (or Primer)

Why You Need a S.M.A.R.T. Goal Refresher (or Primer)

The key to achieving goals is to make sure that they’re created in a defined way that makes the outcome and time frame clear, and by using the well-known S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting method, we can increase the likelihood of success. While no system is a guarantee for success, an effective strategy is a very useful tool when trying to achieve something that is important to us.

The problem is that though many of us are familiar with this method and may have even used it in the past, we often overlook it or cut corners because we’re in a hurry to get moving towards our goals. However, by these actions, we may be unwittingly undermining ourselves.

For those who are not familiar with S.M.A.R.T., this is a primer; for those who are, it’ll be a refresher.

SMART Goal Method

Specific: Goals must be very clear, not vague ideas. We often set goals that are so generic, it’s nearly impossible to measure progress or successful achievement—you need to know what has to be done, or what specifically the desired end result will be.

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POOR EXAMPLE:

  • I really want to lose weight”—Who doesn’t? What does that mean?

BETTER EXAMPLE:

  • “I will lose 20 pounds by September 1st  by performing a half-hour of cardio and half hour of strength training per day, 5 times a week.”

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. They should be well-defined, concrete goals, and must be laid out in qualitative or quantitative terms. If there are no metrics or other way of measuring progress, it’s difficult to determine if you are making sufficient headway towards your end result. Choose a method of measurement that will allow you to gauge your progress.

POOR EXAMPLE:

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  • “I wish to be wealthy and successful so that I never have to worry about money again.”

BETTER EXAMPLE:

  • I will gross 1 million dollars and have a team of five within 5 years.”

Attainable: Goals need to be realistic and achievable. Time and again, success or failure is determined by having a realistic view of your ability to achieve your specific goal, and the best goals require you to stretch a bit to achieve, but aren’t out of reach. You should consider what resources you have and your level of skills necessary to achieve your goal. Setting goals that are not achievable can be very disheartening, and will only serve to discourage you in other aspects of your life.

POOR EXAMPLE:

  • “I hope to become a best-selling author in three months” (You never know—it could happen, but it’s highly unlikely.)

BETTER EXAMPLE:

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  • “I will increase my savings account by $10,000 in 3 years.”

Relevant: Goals must be relevant to your purpose (or your company’s.) Setting goals that are relevant will keep you on the right path to your long-term goals, and will also make certain that you stay focused on your personal vision, professional objectives, or overall strategic long-term plan in life. It also helps if the goal is related in some way to your area of expertise or knowledge, and revolves around an area in which you desire either personal or professional growth.

POOR EXAMPLE:

  • “I’d really like to network more”—Why? What does that get you? How do you plant to do so?

BETTER EXAMPLE:

  • “I will attain my Masters degree in two years so that I can attain professional certification in my field.”

Time-Sensitive: Goals need to have a time frame, milestones, and a deadline. Setting a specific period of time in which to achieve said goal will help to give you a timeline for steps needed, and a deadline for achievement. Doing this also helps you monitor your progress. Not having time constraints attached to your goal triggers procrastination: without an end date, there is no sense of urgency, no impetus to take any action today. Without this component, we are tempted to put off the goal, relegating it to the “someday,” pile—you may possibly never get around to it, or it will get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day grind.

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For EXAMPLE:

  • “I would love to write a best-selling book.”
  • “I have always wanted to start my own business.”

Better EXAMPLE:

  • “I will write a book on financial planning and submit it to publishers 1 year from today.”
  • “I will have a retirement account with at least $500,000 within 5 years from this date.”

By taking a little extra time determining goals to ensure that they fit the S.M.A.R.T. criteria, you can not only improve your chance of success, but also in many cases make the actual attainment of the goal less of a challenge. A small dose of preparation will result in better results, smoother progress, and a higher rate of goal-achievement success.

Featured photo credit:  Young archer training with the bow via Shutterstock

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Royale Scuderi

A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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Last Updated on May 28, 2020

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

10 Success Principles for Living Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

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This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

5. Embrace Your Inner Weirdo

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward.

Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

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7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

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“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

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Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

Reference

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