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The Missing Letter in Your SMART Goals

The Missing Letter in Your SMART Goals

    I love the SMART goal setting technique. It really helps me break my goals into smaller and more manageable pieces.

    However, there is one crucial element (or letter) that is missing from this acronym. This missing letter can potentially make it harder for you to reach your goal – no matter how well you have broken down your goal into different pieces and action steps.

    Playing the SMART game

    If you are not familiar with the SMART goal setting technique and what the acronym means, here is a brief rundown with a simple example:

    • S = Specific

    Your goal has to be specific enough (“I want to lose 4 inches off my waist”)

    • M = Measurable

    “My waist line is measured every week, on Saturday mornings after waking up”

    • A = Achievable

    “Do you think that you can do this? Or are you going too far by getting rid of yet another 10 inches? Or should the goal be 5 inches instead, maybe that would be more achievable?”

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    • R = Realistic

    “Is your lifestyle stable enough that you can commit to this goal?  Are you mentally prepared to do this? Do you want to achieve this goal by next week or in six months?”

    • T = Time-framed

    “It’s January 2012 now, so I want to achieve this by July 1st 2012.”

    As you can see, when you break down your goal like this, they become much more manageable and concrete than just saying “I want to to be slimmer”.

    All fine and well, except that there is a crucial letter missing in this package – another letter “A”.

    So, what is this missing letter “A” all about?

    Other letter “A” stands for accountability and this is a great way to make sure that your defined plan is actually executed and it is not left just on the talking or planning level. Even if you crafted a masterful plan by using the SMART goal technique, it becomes useless if you don’t actually execute it. To make sure you start the execution phase, you want to throw some accountability into the mix.

    By having some external pressure on your back (in the form of accountability), you are more likely to take action on your goal steps than if you just kept the plan to yourself. Accountability is based on the fact that you want to stand behind your words and save face. When you announce your goal to the world, you realize that the world is now watching you and you don’t want to let the world down.

    Accountability is also about keeping the expectations of others. If you announce a goal or a task in public, other people are expecting you will achieve the tasks and goals you have laid out for yourself.

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    Different ways to implement the letter “A” in your goal           

    1. Keep it to yourself

    I was a bit hesitant to include this, since in this scenario you are not telling others about your plans or tasks. However, for some people this might work since your conscience is your accountability partner in this situation. And you don’t want to let your conscience down.

    2. Announce it to the people you are dealing with

    Your people could be your colleagues at work, your local golf club buddies, the subscribers and readers of your blog or your Twitter followers. I would say that accountability is more effective when dealing with “offline people”. Being accountable face-to-face to someone is very effective.

    I’m in no way underestimating the power of “online people” either. If you are trying to form solid relationships with others online, you want to keep your word – even if you don’t necessarily meet the people in the same sense as in offline world.

    3. Accountability partner

    A little bit more intimate way of being accountable is to report to your friend or spouse about your doings. When this route is chosen, you might decide to call your partner on a frequent basis how you are doing and how you are progressing on your task that you promised to do.

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    4. Stickk.com

    If none of the above ways work for you it’s time to put Stickk into play.

    Stickk.com is a web site where you can announce your goal (“Commitment Contract”) and to make you even more committed to reaching that goal, there is money on the stake. Money is not mandatory to get set up with Stickk, but knowing that you will lose a certain amount of money if you don’t reach your goal, can give you an extra push to get stuff done.

    5. Mastermind groups

    Mastermind group is a group of like-minded people, gathering on a frequent basis (online or offline) trying to push each other closer to their goals. This type of accountability is very common in business world. When you are in a mastermind group and you have set the objectives you want to achieve by the next meeting, you want to get stuff done and fulfill other’s expectations.

    Mastermind groups are a great way to improve your productivity and reach your goals with the help of others.

    6. Coach

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    If you really want to get personal attention to your goals and a person who will make you to reach your goals (much faster than what you could do by yourself), then hiring a personal coach may be the best way to stay accountable.

    Not only are you accountable to your coach, but you also have to pay for his/her attention. This makes the coach option even more effective. You want to make sure you do everything you can to get the assignments done before the deadline you two have set. So there is a money factor to keep you accountable as well. Since you want to quickly move forward, this option is a very effective for staying accountable with your goals.

    Next time set the goal using “SMARTA” instead

    The next time you are set on reaching a goal, add that letter “A” to the SMART goal setting technique:

    Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-framed, Accountable.

    The accountability factor of reaching your goals may be just the thing you need to make them a reality.

    (Photo credit: Letters and symbols in fire via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on March 31, 2020

    How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

    How to Use Visual Learning to Work More Effectively

    Knowledge is essential to become successful in life, your career and your business. Without learning new concepts and becoming proficient in our craft, we cannot excel in our chosen careers or archive knowledge to pass down to the next generation.

    But content comes in various forms, and because how we learn influences how much we know, we need to talk about learning styles. This article will focus on how to utilize visual learning to boost your career or business.

    The Importance of Knowing Your Learning Style

    Knowing your learning style enables you to process new information to the best of your ability. Not only does it reduce your learning curve, you’re able to communicate these same concepts to others effectively.

    But it all starts when you’re able to first identify the best way you learn.

    As a college student, I soon figured out that taking online courses without visual aids or having an instructor in front of me led to poor retention of concepts.

    Sure, I got good grades and performed excellently in my online exams. However. I discovered that I couldn’t maintain this performance level because I forgot 80 percent of the course content by the end of the semester.

    There are several types of learning styles known to mankind. To give an idea of how visual learning stacks up against other learning styles, here’s a brief mention of some of the different types of learning styles we have.

    The four most popular types of learning styles are:

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    • Visual learning style (what this article talks about).
    • Aural or auditory learning style (learning by listening to information presented).
    • Verbal or linguistic learning style (learning that involves speech and writing).
    • Tactile learning style (learning by touching and doing)

    But for the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on using visual learning to boost your career or business.

    How to Know If You’re a Visual Learner?

    When it comes to boosting your career, business (or education), a visual learner is one who would most definitely choose shapes, images, symbols, or reading over auditory messages.

    I’m talking about preferring to read an actual map when navigating to a new place over listening to verbal directions. I’m talking about discovering that you actually have trouble remembering what your manager said at the meeting because there were no graphs or illustrations to support the points raised.

    Most people who struggle with learning probably aren’t leveraging their best learning styles. The earlier you identify how your learning style can boost your success, the less struggle you will encounter with processing new information throughout your career.

    However, visual learning in particular CAN 10x your career or business whether it is your preferred learning style or not. And here’s why:

    Several studies have arrived at the conclusion that the brain retains more information with the help of visual aids. In other words, images are directly processed by our long-term memory which helps us store information for longer periods of time.[1]

    While some lessons can be performed orally, several concepts can only make sense if you have an image with an explanation of sequences (i.e learning about the human DNA).

    Visual learning does use a different part of the brain and visual cues are processed by the part of the brain known as the occipital lobe.

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    By engaging more parts of the brain during learning, you’re able to have a fuller understanding of concepts and facilitate better interaction with your immediate environment.

    How to Use Visual Learning for Success

    Here’re 4 ways to use visual learning to boost your career or business:

    1. Bring back the to-do list. Then add shapes and colors to boost productivity.

    We live in an age where computers have taken over virtually every aspect of productivity and most human functions. But written lists are making a comeback, and with an endless number of important tasks to complete, having a to-do list of tasks in order of importance can improve your productivity.

    While coming up with a list is initially challenging, adding colors and shapes to written lists that you personally write and manage gives you an extra layer of assurance and boosts aids recall so that you actually get stuff done.

    I have tried this technique in my work as a registered nurse and discovered that adding shapes and colors to to-do lists helps me delegate tasks, recognize where more work is needed, and makes it easy to cross off completed tasks at the end of the day.

    2. Add graphs, charts and symbols to your reports.

    Yes, it seems like more work cut out for you. However, graphs enable you monitor the heartbeat of your business.

    Graphs and charts help you trend your finances, budget, and pretty much any data overtime. With the help of free and premium software available on the market, it has become easier to take plain data and in a matter of seconds, have relevant information displayed in different shapes and images.

    As an entrepreneur, you can make predictions and allocate funds wisely when you’re able to see whether your efforts are rewarded. You can use colors and charts to delegate actions to members of your team and track performance at the same time.

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    And when broken down into monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual goals, graphs and charts communicate what ordinary text cannot.

    3. Effectively brainstorm with mind-mapping.

    Mind-mapping is not new but I don’t think it’s been talked about as often as we do to-do lists.

    With mind mapping, you’re organizing information accurately and drawing relationships between concepts and pieces from a whole.

    Think of a mind map as a tree with several branches. For example, the tree can symbolize healthcare while each branch stands for nursing, medicine, laboratory science, and so on. When you look at nursing, you can further branch out into types of nursing; pediatric, women’s health, critical care, and so on.

    It’s an interesting relationship; the more ideas you’re able to come up with for your chosen subject, the deeper you get and the stronger the association.

    Mind maps really show you relationships between subjects and topics, and simplifies processes that might seem complicated at first glance. In a way, it is like a graphical representation of facts presented in a simple, visual format.

    Mind mapping isn’t only limited to career professionals; business owners can benefit from mind mapping by organizing their online learning activities and breaking down complex tasks into simple actions so that you can accurately measure productivity.

    4. Add video streaming to meetings.

    What if you could double the productivity of your team members by video streaming your meetings or adding flash animation to your presentation at the same time?

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    When you offer video as an alternative method of processing information to colleagues, there is a greater chance of retaining information because we recreate these stories into images in our minds.

    For organizations that hold virtual meetings, it can also be an effective way to enhance performance during if people can see their colleagues in addition to flash animation or whatever form of video is provided during the meeting.

    Is Visual Learning Better Than Other Learning Styles?

    No, that is not the point. The goal here is to supplement your existing dominant learning style with visual learning so that you can experience a significant boost in how you process and use everyday information.

    You might discover that understanding scientific concepts are much easier after incorporating visual learning or that you’re able to understand your organization’s value when projected on a visual screen with charts and graphs.

    The overall goal is to always be learning and to continue to leverage visual learning style in your career and business.

    More About Learning Styles

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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