Goal setting – why SMART goals are not enough

Let’s face it: most people don’t bother to set goals unless they have to as part of a business process of some sort. If you DO set goals…congratulations…you’re one of a very select few.

People who DO set goals are probably aware of making those goals ‘SMART’, that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (to values, organisational goals, etc.) and Time bound. Without these parameters to propel you into action, ‘goals’ are likely to remain as daydreams or aspirations.

SMART thinking around your goals is valuable…however, it doesn’t go far enough.

There are five key factors which, if understood and implemented will MASSIVELY increase your chances of achieving your goals. Here’s the first one…

1. Understanding why: knowing the goals and motivations behind your goals

So you’ve set your goal, and you want to be the next Chief Executive of Global Incorporated. Why?

 It’s important that you ask yourself this question and understand the motivations behind whatever goal you have set yourself.

There are two reasons for this: the first is that you need to have a strong reason WHY you’re doing this so that, when times get tough, you can focus on this and keep moving forward, safe in the knowledge that you have a purpose. “I’m going to show that person who wrote me off as a kid!” can be a strong motivator, as can commitments to family and causes, or the desire to leave some sort of legacy or make a difference. What is it for you?

Secondly, understanding the ‘WHY’ will help you to realign your goals if you’re prevented from achieving them for some reason.

Years ago, I thought I wanted to be an air stewardess. The fact that my dad had had a long and successful career as cabin crew and travelled the world undoubtedly influenced this. There were two significant drawbacks: 1) I tend to get travel sick on long haul flights and b) I didn’t get past the interview stage.

Having fallen at this first hurdle, I had to consider the options: to find a mentor, attend training courses and re-apply until I achieved my goal of securing a job as airline cabin crew (and then face a career of vomiting uncontrollably on flights of more than 6 hours or so)…or evaluate carefully WHY I was looking at that job in the first place.

Taking the latter path, I realised that what I REALLY wanted was to be able to travel, see new places, meet new people, experience new cultures and so on.

My career as a trainer and coach has taken me all over Europe and beyond and I’ve been privileged to meet and work with people from a wide variety of cultures and countries. Do I ever look back with regret that I didn’t make it to cabin crew. Absolutely not!

Look closely at your own long-term goal. Why are you doing this? Really…why??

Watch out for my next blog post: Goal Setting success factor number 2 – Self Awareness.


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