Well, hello, sweet darling!
I’m sure you had your fair share of goals set by now. If not, you can check out this post where I describe the whole process of creating a stellar goal.
(you know, the one which is so perfectly defined so it leaves no other way but to be nailed in the future 😉 )
However, before you throw a big party to celebrate smashing your goal, there are just a few things more which need to be addressed.
These can be viewed as an additional (not absolutely necessary) options but could be quite useful, especially if your goal is a long-term one.
So let’s not waste any more time and let’s hop to those steps right now.
Moving from SMART to SMARTER goals
Do you see the difference?
It’s just about those two last letters – ER.
(and they don’t mean emergency room :))
However, you could end up there if you decide to ignore them (a mental image: passing out from overwhelm, burnout, or banging your head against the wall).
Ok, I maybe got a little bit overboard with this one.
(keep in mind I love those over-exaggerated and maybe a liiittle bit dark jokes, so yeah… that was supposed to be funny… but that’s just me.)
Ok, enough with this digression.
Let me show you what I mean…
So what those extra two letters in SMARTER goal are all about? Well, let’s get right to it!
SMARTER goal – your goal should be Evaluated
If your goal is a long-term one (and keep in mind, “long” is a relative quantity), it’s really a good idea to evaluate it from time to time.
Not only this will give you an overview of where you’re currently standing with your goal, but it also adds a touch of accountability – and I’m sure you’d agree it’s a valuable asset to have.
(however, I do have to note that personally, I’m not a big fan of super-long-term goals, and here you can see why…)
Here are the guidelines for evaluating your goals.
First thing first.
- your goal’s time-frame and deadline,
- the number of smaller action steps it consists of,
- and the dynamics by which those smaller tasks can be accomplished (or are planned to be accomplished),
you can evaluate your goal anytime from once per week to once in three months.
(If you’d like to know, I usually evaluate mine on a monthly basis – it seems to be the most optimal frequency to me…)
Once you’ve freed up some time for evaluation of your goal, you now have to know how to approach it the most productive way.
Here are some questions to help you out in this procedure:
- Were your mini-goals accomplished on time?
- Are you achieving your action steps according to the dynamic you’ve set, or are you moving slower or faster?
- Were there any delays and what might cause them?
- What strategies and actions worked (and which have not)?
- What factors played a role in that process?
- How these factors influenced your goal achievement (consider both positive and negative sides)?
Short summary – by evaluating your goal from time to time, you can track your progress and examine your positioning regarding the end result (goal) you want (wish) to obtain.
After evaluation of your goal
After evaluating your goal, you’ll fall into one of the two possible outcomes group.
A) Everything’s going according to a plan
If it turns out everything is going according to a plan (or you’re even ahead of it) – then tap yourself on the back for doing a swell job!
Basically, you have two options now.
Either relax (but just a bit, you don’t want to lose the momentum!) and take some time off to enjoy to yourself (and read 25 Things To Do By Yourself -For Free- if you need some ideas to get you started), or you can decide to go further and get the goal done sooner than planned (and rest at the end).
Although, let’s not forget, maybe the best option (as it usually is with everything in life) is the golden middle approach.
Continue with actions regarding your goal, but in a slight “slower” mode, transferring the gained free chunks of time to those you would anyhow have in
(meaning – little longer moments for you to relax in each day, while also getting the work done – if I’m not being clear… 😀 )
Mmmm… Sounds so deliciously perfect!
A wonderful recipe for life!
Never bored, yet never overworked… (I’ve started daydreaming again!)
B) You’re behind your schedule
Yes, you might be lagging with your goal – which is clearly not a thing to be proud of.
(but don’t stress out, it’s a common event which happens to all of us at some point 😉 )
A number of reasons might account for not getting to your goal’s milestones on time.
It could be because you lacked the time, made overambitious plans, been in low motivation-mode, faced sudden unexpected events, or even had some major life changes which occurred to you, so the way you planned out your goal to develop is simply not possible, no matter how hard you tried, or how hard you pushed it.
But, have no worries!
If you’re in a such scenario, there’s the final “R” letter of the SMARTER goals to help you out, so let’s get straight to it!
(and it can also be applied to the first case, for a super-productive goal achievement, so you’re going for it anyway! 🙂 )
SMARTER goal – your goal might need Readjustment / Revision
In a perfect world, you set a goal, follow a plan, and everything runs smoothly and according to it.
But the thing is, more often than not, that’s not how it goes. 🙁
(I believe we could all sigh and nod our heads to this one right now)
However, it’s not a reason to panic.
(at least not just yet 😀 )
The world won’t crumble to pieces.
And hopefully, you are not stubborn enough to keep pushing a goal if it somehow just doesn’t function.
Hey, you’re smarter than that!
(ha, ha… get it? smarter?… ehem… get back to the point, Natasha!)
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to admit to yourself that no matter how much time you spent on making a genius, elaborative, brilliant goal and a plan – if it’s not working, you have to move on and…
change a strategy.
Have you thought I was gonna say to quit a goal?
You should always try to change a strategy first, even change it a couple of times if needed, but don’t turn your back on your goal right after the first obstacle.
That’s a big no-no!
You owe yourself to give it a good try before even thinking about giving up on your goal (hey, it was enough meaningful to you in the first place, remember?).
Based on your observations from the “E” part, you should have enough data (and maybe even more than it takes) to get you started.
You understand what worked and what didn’t.
Now think about the ways you can make the “good” work even better, and how/if you can eliminate the “bad” and replace it with a different tool/tactic/strategy.
Maybe you can add something on top of it all?
Or maybe it would function better by stripping the unnecessary fuss and the fancy-schmancy and go with (almost) the raw thing which might give you the maximum results?
Think about whether you should redefine time frames, and would the reasons for doing so be justified – if the deadlines can be postponed, though.
(and most of the time they actually can be, despite the common beliefs. of course, this should be the last option to go for, only if everything else fails)
Note those observations in your goal planner – decide what to focus on, and which strategy to use next.
Write it down on paper and plan it out.
Even if all doesn’t go according to this plan, it will still add some accountability and a sense of direction into all the hard work you’re putting into reaching your goal.
So, the point is, a goal is not written in stone and it can sure tolerate a lot more flexibility than you may think.
Here’s a personal story of mine to testify it. I was at the beginning of my Ph.D. studies when I got pregnant with my elder child. And needless to say, it influenced the speed and the length of my studies. (which slowed even more down after the second was born, and numerous other not-so-favorable events happened.) However, I did not give up on my goal. I just gave up on the idea of finishing it in a certain amount of time. I have to admit, I’m not happy about it, sometimes it feels like a never-ending burden to carry. But then I remember that life is a trade-off, and I made a choice what my priorities are. (sorry, Ph.D., although you sound fancy, family and my private life come first to me!)
The takeaway from the story (and maybe even the entire post)?
The main thing is to get from point A to point B.
And it can be done in 1000 ways.
It’s true we would all prefer a straight line, yet the truth is that’s impossible to always have such a path throughout our entire life.
And most of the time, what makes our lives unique and richer are exactly all those situations and moments we experienced when we were not following the straight line.
Don’t you think?
Keep all of this in mind the next time you think you can’t achieve your goal because I’m sure you can!
I believe in you!