P.O.W.E.R Goals: a Powerful Complement to S.M.A.R.T Goals.
This article describes P.O.W.E.R goals (Positive, Ownership, What, Evidence and Relationships).
The ever popular goal setting steps known by the acronym S.M.A.R.T (one version of which is: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-Bound) have stood the test of time. However, when have you put you goals through the P.O.W.E.R acronym or did you even know about it? S.M.A.R.T and P.O.W.E.R are not mutually exclusive but are complementary. Here is a reminder of P.O.W.E.R., widely used in neurolinguistic programming (NLP).
P = positive terms
O = ownership
W = what
E = evidence
R = relationship
Positive: A goal must be stated in positive terms. For example you may say, “ I want to stop procrastinating”. This would be like a hockey or soccer player saying “I do not want to miss the net when I shoot or kick”. Is this what the player really wants? No. What the player really wants is to hit the net and better yet score a goal. Why not just state that? We often say things of the sort: “I don’t want to miss” or I need to avoid this at all cost”. These may be goals but don’t get a true purpose. When someone says: “I want to stop procrastinating” that person means “I want to get my work done”? Doesn’t the hockey player or soccer player really mean “I want to score goals”? So why not just say that? It is hard to set up an action plan to not do something. It’s hard to set up an action plan to stop procrastinating and easier to figure out steps to do your work.
Ownership: One of the great barriers that prevent people from reaching their goals is that they are not taking full ownership of them. For example, a student that is not doing well may say something like: “my teachers are terrible”. An employee that is unhappy at his job may say: “if only my boss would be more understanding”. To maximize the chances that your goals will be achieved the outcome has to be in your own hands, not in the hands of others. If you feel that some things are in the hands of others then you have to figure out how to change that so that it is back in your own hands.
What: The “what” of P.O.W.E.R. is very similar to the “Specific” component of S.M.A.R.T. It refers to specifying what exactly is the goal and what exactly will you do to reach it. If there are resources that you need, then what are they?
Evidence: while in the process of reaching your goals you need to have some kind of evidence that what you are doing is working. If your goal is to have an average of 75% for all your classes, then you need to see that the steps you are taking are moving you towards that. If you get an 85% on your first test, it would be evidence that you are doing things right. If the steps you are taking lead you to get 65% on your first exam, it would be evidence that the steps you are not taking the right steps. In which case you need to revise your strategy. You also have to think about what the evidence will be that you have reached your goal. In other words, how will you know that you have reached your goal?
Relationship: What if you had a goal that would require you to be away from your family an extended period of time. For example, you decide that you want to go graduate school in a city far away. Away from your family and friends. Maybe even away from your spouse. You need to think about whether that would be a strain on your relationships and whether this may result in you or others you care about being miserable. That is, you also have to measure the cost of reaching your goal in exactly the way you envisioned it. If reaching your goal will render you or others you care about miserable then you may need to readjust that goal.
This article as well as others are posted on my blog at: www.coachingsgaskin.com/blog/blog
Stephane Gaskin PhD