If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you’ve seen the last few posts on goal setting versus resolutions, how to use a vision board to help you stay focused and enthusiastic about your goals and how to achieve your goals with the Law of Attraction. But there’s one more goal-setting resource I’d like to share with you that will give you some hard-core, useable strategies to skyrocket your success rate in achieving your goals!
Setting SMART Goals
I came across a really awesome resource for goal setting this year that I’ve added my own little LOA twist to and have since been using extensively to help me with my own goals. It’s called SMART goal setting, and here’s how it works: SMART is a mnemonic for Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic, and Time-bound goals. The theory is that if you make sure your goals are specific rather than general, measurable rather than subjective, aligned with your values, realistic, and bound by a real deadline, you are much more likely to follow through and make them happen.
Let’s break it down:
This first step helps you to define your SMART goals clearly. It is super-important because a specific goal, with no vagueness or room for interpretation, is much more likely to be achieved than a general one.
For example, if you have a goal to “get fit”, it just isn’t specific enough. It’s too wishy-washy, and doesn’t really give you a bold statement of what you’re trying to do (what counts as “fit’?) If your fitness goal is to “become more flexible”, it still isn’t specific enough because it’s too open to interpretation (what counts as “more flexible”?) For a goal to be useful to you it must be as specific as possible; for instance, your flexibility goal might be: “To be able to touch my toes again.” This is a very clear and easily understandable goal, so you know exactly what it is you are going to accomplish.
There is a maxim among corporate project management types that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”, and this is also true for personal goal-setting.
To help you with this step, there are two questions that you need to ask yourself about your goal:
- How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal?
- How will I know that I’m making progress towards my goal?
If you’re goal is to be “be famous”, for instance, how will you know you’re famous? Are you famous when people you don’t know ask for your autograph? Or when you’re on the front cover of a grocery store tabloid? Or when you’ve won an Oscar for best actor? What has to happen for you to know you’ve officially reached your goal and are now “famous”?
Likewise, until you’ve reached that official goal point, how will you know you’re on the right track? How will you know that you’re on your way? If you have milestones that you can track as you work towards your goal, it will give you the proof that what you’re doing is “working” and the excitement of meeting each of these “mini-goals” will give you the emotional boost and determination required to achieve your larger goal.
This is where I’ve added my Law of Attraction bit. 🙂 In the official version of this system, the “A” is actually for “achievable”, but I find “aligned” resonates a lot more for me: Are your goals aligned with your beliefs and values? Are your goals really the ones you want or are they goals you’ve set because you, or other people, think you “should” or “ought to”?
If your goals are not in alignment with Who You Really Are, you will not attain them, plain and simple. There will be something inside you that rebels against them, and does everything in its power to make sure they don’t happen. And if by some miracle, you do manage to drag yourself, metaphorically kicking and screaming all the way through to the finish line, you’re still not going to be happy, so why bother? SMART goals have to remain true to your own core values and belief systems.
For example, if your goal is to go the gym three times a week because you think you “should”, you might start out with the steely determination to make yourself do it, but you won’t enjoy it, and sooner or later you’re going to find every possible excuse for not going (you have to get that document finished for work tomorrow so you don’t have time, it’s raining and the road might be slippery so best not to go, you’ve got a bit of a sniffle and might be coming down with something so better to stay home and rest, etc.). In this case, perhaps a re-evaluation of your goals might be in order: if you really want to get more exercise, but hate going to the gym, why not make it your goal to leave your desk and go for a walk every lunch hour, instead?
For a goal to be effective, it must be “do-able”; it must be one you believe you can actually achieve. You want to set a goal that will stretch you, that will require you to make a real commitment, but at the same time, you don’t want to make your goal so far out of reach that you don’t really believe it can be done.
If the goal is too difficult, you won’t commit to doing it, and even if you try, your subconscious mind will sabotage you with every limiting belief it can throw at you, effectively burying the goal before you even get going. But if the goal is too easy, you’re sending yourself the subconscious message that you aren’t capable enough to handle a “real” goal, and attaining it will not bring you any real satisfaction. Set your SMART goals so that they require some real effort on your part; set the bar high enough that it will really mean something when you accomplish your goal, but don’t set it so high that you doom yourself to failure before you’re even out of the gate.
For example: If your goal is to be Prime Minister (or President) within two years, but you have never had any experience in politics or speaking in front of large audiences, you know it’s not an achievable goal. You can still plan on being President, but in the meantime, you might make it a goal to volunteer in your local MP or governor’s office to learn the ins-an-outs of a political environment. You might also decide to join Toastmasters and make it your goal to earn your Competent Communicator status within a year. These are both realistic, attainable goals that could also help you achieve your larger goal.
Finally, for a goal to be SMART, it must be time-bound. This means you have to have a concrete time frame and target date for achieving your goal. If you commit to a deadline, you’re much more likely to achieve it, and not let your other day-to-day tasks overshadow your goal or dream.
More importantly, without a clear finish-line, you will not have any sense of urgency or pressure to start taking action now. Without a clear timeline, there’s no real commitment because you’re going to feel that you’ll get started on that goal “sometie” or “whenever”. And then you just never quite get around to getting started so you never do achieve your goal. So give yourself a deadline: When will you have achieved this goal? Next week? In two months? Before your next birthday? SMART goals are time-bound with defined deadlines or target dates.
SMART Goals and the Law of Attraction
So there you have it: If you make your goals specific, measurable, aligned with your core values, realistic, and time-bound, you are far more likely to follow through and actually achieve them. And when you use SMART goals in conjunction with Law of Attraction based techniques like vision boards, your ability to achieve those goals becomes super-charged and extraordinarily powerful. You are in essence mixing mind power with muscle power (i.e. the power of the Universe and your beliefs with the power of your physical actions) for an unstoppable dynamic combination! And with that kind of unlimited power fueling you, how could you possibly NOT achieve your goal? 🙂
And for my final word on this, I just want to share a really cute example of great goal-setting in action: my 6 year old nephew wanted to be a “good reader”, so he set himself the goal of reading 100 books by himself. His mother made him a chart on a big piece of Bristol board with 100 squares in it and the goal written at the top: “I read 100 books!” (I don’t think she actually knows anything about the Law of Attraction, but holy heck… she intuitively knew to put the goal in past tense, automatically presuming in everyone’s mind that goal was/would be completed! How LOA is that? :-)). Now, every time he finishes reading a book, he puts a sticker in one of the squares, so he has a very visual way of tracking his progress, which spurs him on as he can see himself getting closer and closer to achieving his ultimate goal. Awesome!