I thought we’d spend some time thinking about goal setting as we embark on a new year and in light of the I-Ching for this month. Working out what it is you want and having a plan to achieve desired outcomes is always good.
I’ve played so much over the years with setting goals, vision boarding, working with SMART goals, employing creative visualisation etc. All of these things have their place. All are useful to a point.
A lot of management speak is focussed on SMART Goal setting. This is an acronym for “S = Specific” – making sure the goal you set has a very small scope; “M = Measurable” – that is, being able to measure the success of the goal; “A = Achievable” – making sure the goal is actually within reach; “R = Relevant” – there needs to be a strong ‘business’ case for wanting it to happen; and “T = Time bound” – to be achieved within a specific time frame. These are used to set project and business goals like: “To increase sales of X product by 20% in the next 6 months.” They are also used to set personal goals like: “To double my income by December 2016”.
However, there is a real trap I have found and observed with many approaches to goal setting. It’s what a friend of mine calls ‘replacing the catholic guilt’.
A few years ago I attended a course that included vision boards and dreaming big. The course was full of great energy, wonderful and passionate people. We spent some time visualising short, medium and long term goals and doing the magazine thing where we cut images and text out of magazines and pasted them onto a time line.
In my medium term vision I had things like a gold Saab; a slim and beautiful body; a large house with a pool. I never did ‘manifest’ any of these things in the time frame that I had ‘imagined’. How did I feel? Ever so slightly ripped off really – to be honest. And also ever so slightly pissed off – with myself. Seeing it as a reflection of my inability to manifest and be ‘happy’. Conclusion … there must be something ‘wrong’ with me.
Since then I have realised a couple of things. Firstly: we used magazines! OMG. This was huge for me. I have fought the stereo-types of what success is and what it ‘looks’ like all my life, and here I was cutting images out of the propaganda that I did not believe in and allowing it to dictate my values. Most magazines, let’s face it, see success through Hollywood eyes. Rich (money money money), powerful (by position), beautiful (by Hollywood standards) and enviable! There was this fairy tale assumption that if I imagined it so it would be. At least SMART goal setting comes with a bit of realism. Secondly, none of the images I chose actually aligned to who I REALLY believe I am, who I WANT to be and the VALUES that I align to. This is where I needed to start.
I have come up with my own goal setting steps …
1) Litmus Test: What if nothing changed? What I am looking for here is an understanding that I am complete where I am. That I can sit with my hand on my heart and truly say “My life is good”. I’m not wishing for anything to be different ... from this point I can allow my true desires to unfold. The trap is we often spend time in judgement of ourselves and others … the grass is always greener etc. I aim to get to a place where I can slow down and notice what is true – for me. If I’m unable to feel a basic ok’ness with my life, then something has to give that may need the help of a councillor or a lawyer, or both!
2) Exciting: my visions for my ‘self’ excite the real me, inside and deep down. The excitement comes from coherence with my inner self. The focus here is not on doing and having, but on being and being some more.
3) Values Driven: I am aligned to the values that drive me. Is this what I truly desire to bring forward in my life? I understand who I am and all my decisions and dreams align to the core of me.
4) Expectations: An honest evaluation of my expectations, of what I’m able to do or not do to make this happen? I might want to save $500 a week but is that practicable or will I set myself up to fail?
5) Reflective: How will this feel to bring this forward in my life? To achieve this goal (be it a doing, having or being goal)? Does it sit well with who I truly am? Or am I somehow buying into a societal brainwash of what happiness is? If it sits well I can then begin to visualise as a reality.
LEVER goals! Too twee?
Works for me, it’s a good ‘lever’ for me to determining new possibilities in my life J
What do you reckon would work for you?