How many of you have ever had a hard time setting and achieving your goals?
I have. I love dreaming about the future and coming up with things I’d love to see happen in the world and, honestly, there are lots and lots of those goals I’ve failed to accomplish. And after a while, it becomes disheartening if your vision never seems to come to fruition. So I’ve developed a new way of setting my goals. And this year, it seems to be working, so I thought I’d share the idea with you. SMART PATH goals.
I think I first learned about SMART goals more than 20 years ago when I was training for the New Zealand Women’s Canoe Polo squad. We were training for the 1st World Championships and the national association brought in a sports psychologist. Now, to an engineer (or anyone else with a logical mind like mine), a SMART goal makes a lot of sense. You get into the details of the goal and make it more easily attainable. SMART stands for:
- Specific (so you know exactly what your goal is)
- Measurable (so you know when you’ve achieved it)
- Achievable (so you can achieve it)
- Results (so you know what you are getting)
- Time based (so you know when in time it will happen)
This method for goal setting has served me well in most respect ever since then. The part I struggle with most is the achievable part. There are three aspects to the achievable aspect that I’m sharing about today.
‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’
-Lewis Carroll, from Alice in Wonderland
I believe that one component to being happy is doing the things that are important to you. Some of those things may be things you don’t want to do, but nonetheless, they are important. Life can seem hectic and overwhelming because we have so many options available to us. The skill to learn is how to distill the things that are priorities- to identify your destination. There are five simple steps you can follow to do this. I’m going to apply these to living a balanced life, but you can apply this technique to any part of your life you choose, such as your work environment, your spiritual growth, even how to arrange your office desk or your kitchen.
You will need some time to reflect and a way to record your thoughts (paper or electronic, which ever you feel most comfortable with.)
The first step is a creative process. I recommend using mind maps or something similar. You can do this in list form if you prefer. Write down or draw every activity that is important to you that you do now or you want to do. Keep the categories broad – for instance, “date night with my husband” would come under “Family relationships.” Here’s an example:mind map example