Setting meaningful goals - so you actually accomplish them!
Writing a goal isn't enough - for true success and follow-through, you have to know why it's important and what it means to you.
Many people are familiar with SMART goals – goals that you create that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (which means that you set dates for their accomplishment). There are other words that fit into the SMART acronym – some talk about Stretch, Relevant, and Action-oriented, and some add an ER to the end for SMARTER goals that you Evaluate and Revisit.
But I’d like to suggest another M: Meaningful.
As a coach, I often get clients who come in with a presenting goal. Something like…
- I want to lose weight.
- I want to be more confident.
- I want to start my own business.
- I want to write a book.
Things like that.
After the client has told me about their plans and goals, I always ask, “And what’s important about that to you?”
There is often a long pause and a quizzical look. Then the client repeats, “What’s important??”
All too often, we create a goal which we feel compelled to achieve – and they are usually laudable goals – but if we don’t articulate the meaning and the importance of that goal, then we are missing out on a large motivational part – what will keep you going towards the achievement of that goal when things get difficult? what will help you to see clearly? what if that goal ends up being unachieveable? can you accomplish your deeper wanting another way?
You need to know why this goal is important for you.
And then the next questions I ask is, “Why now?”
This also gets quizzical looks. Yet it’s another important factor in achieving your goal. Why do you want to lose weight now? Have you been assessed with a health risk? Has your child just learned to walk and you need to keep up? Are you embarking on a career change and would feel more confident a few pounds lighter in the job interviews? These are all very different individual situations, and each will require a different coaching approach.
Simply articulating your goal is a good first step. If you create a vision board or journal, that’s great as well. But for real intrinsic motivation, to truly drive yourself to accomplish that goal, consider what’s important about that goal, and why now.
And if it turns out that your goal doesn’t move you closer to what’s important, don’t be afraid to change your goal to something that’s even more meaningful. You will be even more likely to accomplish it.