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Still using SMART Goals? Let me suggest a better way.

I get it. When I was in the corporate world, I used to teach SMART goals as a useful tool and it is useful. But it leaves so much of goal-setting out of the conversation. A SMART Goal - in case you don’t know- stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/ Relevant, and Time-bound. What this leaves out of the planning is much of the HOW and WHY of actually achieving our goals.

Look, I’ve always been an achiever. When I set my mind to something, I usually make it happen. But I’ve decided that is not enough for me anymore. I want to enjoy the process itself. After all, most of our lives are made up of pursuing some sort of goal. But if we’re always waiting to be happy, we’re conceding that we’ll spend the majority of our lives waiting to feel how we want to feel. We’ve all seen it- the people who work super hard their whole lives so they can be happy in their retirement and never make it.

I recently rebranded my business and updated my website. It was a big project and I only gave myself a few weeks to make it happen. So I created a goal map and I started with the How and the Why. In my experience, the magic is in these two questions.

The HOW describes how you want to approach the goal. How you feel while you’re creating your future is how you’ll feel in your daily life. So how do you want to feel tomorrow? What about the day after that and the day after that? I decided I wanted to feel empowered and authentic throughout the process. Once I decided that, I realized I wanted to prioritize taking care of my body while completing this project. It seems counterintuitive, but it made the process so much more enjoyable. I felt like I was improving myself in multiple ways and honoring myself as a whole person.

The WHY is what keeps us going. I can’t answer that question for you, but when you find it, it will drive you in a way that feels great. For me, my WHY is about helping people doing their work in the world and creating a life that feels like it belongs to me, When something felt tough, reminding myself of my WHY did a couple things. First, of course, it motivated me. It kept me focused on doing the next step. Second, it helped me focus on what really matters. There were some little obstacles getting in my way and refocusing on my long term goals put that into perspective.

Next time you start working towards a goal, try starting with the WHY and HOW and then build the rest of your plan around that. The specific tool I used in a Goal Map. More to come on that in a later blog post but for now imagine a mind map that’s as straightforward or creative as you want it to be, as detailed or broad as you need it to be, and allows you to get out any fears or stressors and address them.


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