When we want to achieve a specific objective in life, whether it’s to start a business, become a certain sort of person, improve our health, increase our confidence, one of the ways we can do this is to look at setting a goal.
Often, however, the goals we set ourselves aren’t achieved. And there could be numerous factors that contribute to this, one of which could be that your goal wasn’t realistic given who and where you are in your life right now.
We need to set bigger and bigger goals if we’re to succeed in life and create the life we want. However, we also need to look at how we’re going to get from here to there. If our goal is beyond what we see as being realistic, we risk dismissing it before we’ve event started to work towards it.
A popular model for goal establishment and achievement is the SMART approach. The ‘R’ of the SMART model stands for ‘Realistic’. The others, as you may well know, stand for specific, measurable, achievable and time delimited.
But how do we know whether a goal is realistic or not? Perhaps we need to have a look at our true M.O.T.I.V.E. for achieving a particular goal, and see how realistic that goal really is. Five useful areas to question may well be the following:
1. M: How much Motivation do I have to achieve this goal to the standard I want to reach? And do I have the right motivation to complete it? If not, what do I need to do to increase my level of motivation to achieve the goal? Or how can I introduce more stepping stones on the ways to the goal so it’s more achievable with the motivation I do have?
If your goal is to set up or grow a business and you find your motivation is low, what is it about that business model that’s deterring you? Is it the right business for you? Have you done your research? Is the business viable? Is the business in alignment with who you are as a person? All these questions can begin to shed light on how to raise your motivation levels so that you can begin to move towards your goal.
2. O: Is what I want to achieve solely up to me or do I have to take Other people into consideration? If I’m taking someone else into consideration, how can we work on this goal together to ensure that both our needs are met? Is there compromise on either side? If so is one of us foregoing our own needs in favour of those of the other person? If this is the case, how can we work together to redress this balance?
In the case of a business, do you need a business partner, a consultant or an assistant in your business? Do you need to draft in the expertise of a business mentor or coach? Or do you simply need to sit down with a friend to hear a second opinion on what you’re about to do? If others need to be involved how can you work together so that it’s a win, win for both of you? These and other questions you may come up with will begin to help you understand how others may be able to help you reach your outcome.
3. T: How much Time do I have to achieve this goal to the standard I wish to reach? And do I have the right amount of time to complete it? If not, how can I extend the timeframe to achieve the goal? Or how can I change the goal so that it is more achievable in the time I do have?
Time is one of the keys to a successful venture. Your timeframe can be the difference between succeeding in reaching your goal and coming up short. If your timeframe is too short your brain will simply dismiss the goal because the belief that you can’t reach your outcome in that space of time will sabotage your attempts to achieve that outcome.
Practise setting timeframes by timing every activity you undertake no matter how small. In this way you’ll begin to get an understanding of how you work, and what kind of timeframes are practical and realistic for you. When you get into the habit of setting small timeframes for everyday tasks it becomes easier to set timeframes for your bigger goals.
4. I: What’s my real level of Interest in this goal? And do I have the right amount of interest to see it to completion? If not, what can I do to make the goal more interesting, exciting and fun so that I have more Inspiration to achieve it?
Your level of interest is a vital barometer that will help you gauge whether your goal is the right one for you. You won’t always necessarily be inspired and interested in the daily actions necessary to achieve your goal (the research, the planning, the administration, the reviewing, the tweaking, the changing… ) but your ultimate goal should at least interest you and ideally inspire you. If it doesn’t it’s time to look at why this is and whether this is really the right goal for you.
5. V: Is what I want to achieve a goal in its own right or is it part of a wider Vision? If so what’s the vision and what’s the goal… what is the difference between the two? If it is a vision, are there more goals I need to achieve alongside this one to reach the vision?
It’s important to be able to rise up and look at the ultimate vision of where you want to go on a regular basis. Having this higher stance not only helps to put into perspective the individual goals you’re working on, but also re-ignites your motivation, interest and inspiration to realize the vision.
6. E: How much Energy do I have to achieve this goal to the standard I wish to reach? And do I have the right amount of energy to complete it? If not, what do I need to do to increase my energy level to achieve the goal? Or how can I change the goal so that it is more achievable with the energy I do have?
Your energy levels will be an important determining factor in how well you achieve your goal. A simple way to establish how much energy you do have is to score your energy levels throughout the day. How energized are you in the mornings, the afternoons and the evenings?
Another useful measuring tool is to become aware of how you feel when you think of your goal. Are you energized when you think about it, or does your energy drop? If it drops look at the points above and consider what needs to be changed in terms of your goal to increase your energy.
These simple questions and sub-questions will begin to help you look at your goal from a more grounded perspective. They’ll also assist you to make a better decision as to exactly what you wish to achieve… and whether what you wish to achieve is really realistic.