Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. – Tony Robbins
Ah, there’s no pain like goal pain.
Last week in our “30 Steps to a Better You” we started talking about breaking down our dreams and turning them into actionable items, making smaller, achievable goals. But while some of the things you may have outlined sounded fun or even exciting to do, there will be others that when you break it down, don’t sound so fun and feel uncontrollable.
But as one of my favorite mantras goes, don’t talk about it, be about it. We have to “be” about our goals, even the ones that aren’t simple. That’s why we need to develop strategies.
There are two goal setting strategies that I subscribe to and each has its time and place. They both come from the world of business and they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals and DUMB (Dreamy, Unrealistic, Motivating and Bold) goals. A lot of people live by the idea that SMART goals are the best. And at their core, they are great. A lot of our goal creating strategy will be about being specific and targeting things we can measure.
When I was in graduate school, my professors drilled in their students the “SMART” goal approach, and for a long time, I didn’t know any other way operate, but something in my gut told me there had to be another way. It was hard for me to believe that some of our world’s biggest visionaries like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson worked that way. SMART makes sense for something that is rigid, or that is most effective in the short-term or in a corporate environment. But for the big ideas? I knew there had to be more, so I bucked what I was taught. (This despite the looks I got from most of my business school classmates who, to this day, had to think I was “different” for my approaches to things.) Long story short, I was operating in a DUMB goal strategy before I knew what the acronym was. I was dreaming big, lofty, even unrealistic goals that made me feel alive and bolstered my creativity. It was a strategy that taught me you should shoot for your dreamiest goals so that even if you don’t reach it exactly, you might just land next door to it in a situation that’s amenable to your dreams.
Both techniques work and both should be deployed as you develop your strategies to achieve your goals in the spaces where they fit the most.
So break out your more difficult goals and put them to the SMART or DUMB test, then break them down according to the acronyms.
For SMART goals:
Get Specific: Take your goal and narrow it down to its most base component, to its root, to what that very first baby step is.
Make it Measurable: Look at how you can mark your progress on this goal. What are the benchmarks you need to hit for success?
Is it Attainable?: Be realistic. Take a hard look at your goal and ask yourself if this is something that’s doable in a year’s time or even doable for your personality type. (If it’s not easily attainable, this goal might have to move over to the DUMB strategy development column.)
Is it Relevant?: The actions you’re choosing to take, are the relevant to your overall goal? Are the steps you’re taking going to get you where you need to go? Review your work and ask yourself these questions.
Make it Timely: Come up with a timetable for your goal benchmarks and work on hitting them.
For DUMB goals, break it down like this:
Dream Big!: If it’s not something you truly love and desire, sometimes it’s not worth doing. And you want to do what you love. So think of the larger picture and fill that picture with all the things you desire.
Unrealistic? So what?: So it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight or even in a year, so what? That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen. Not if keep planning for it and working on it. Keep looking for pathways to success and be open-minded. For unrealistic goals there’s going to be a lot of trial and error, a lot of not being able to find the simple or obvious path. This is about an adventure of self-discovery, so be ready to have one.
Get Motivated: This lofty dream should propel you, energize you about your work. Try to find things that will help remind you of your greater goal and will inspire you to keep going. This could be inspiring quotes, uplifting notes you write to yourself or aspirational photographs of the things you want for yourself. Look at them to remind you why you’re doing the hard work to get there.
Be Bold!: This is where being a risk-taker works in your favor. Go out on a limb for your dreams. Make an effort to meet someone you have always wanted to meet, reach out to someone you’ve long admired for advice – whether you actually know them or not. Send off that book proposal or screenplay for feedback. Start taking steps towards that business you always wanted to start. Think of the creative or bold things you can do to help make your dream happen.
Your task – once you’ve outlined which goals are your SMART ones and which ones are the DUMB ones, add them to your “30 Steps to a Better You” folder. And remember that goal setting is something that can be done beyond just your vision – it applies to every goal you have in life. Try applying each goal to both of these strategies.
Posted on: Sep 23, 2013
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