Goal setting is one of the main reasons why people choose to use a coach. A lot of people have dreams and desires that they want to achieve in this life time though they do not know where to start. Similarly, people dream big, which is highly encouraged by the way, and they are too scared to start. So, due to one or both of the reasons above the majority of people do not go after what they really want in life, time ticks on by, and as people get older if they have not achieved or attempted to achieve what they want in life, regret, anger and frustration creep into their lives and their life starts to lose purpose and meaning.
Goals simply give us the pathway to where we want to go. If I could quote one of my heroes, Arnold Schwarzenegger, here when he famously says,
“You can have the best ship or cruise liner in the word. But if the captain does not know where to go the ship will just drift aimlessly through the ocean not really achieving anything and will probably end up deserted on some island.”
How to Set Goals
Goal setting is the pathway that we choose to take to get the desired results you want. Now, please don’t be misinformed here. Big scary goals, which are the ones you should be going after, will have many steps and tasks to do along the way, however the goals setting stage is not the time to be thinking of those tasks.
I will show you a fail safe way to set goals which was taught to me during my coaching training which I will pass on now. It is called the SMERTIE method and it is an acronym of how you should set out your goals.
Specific: Your goal should be specific which means it should have numerical data such as dates, amounts and figures so your goals can be measured. For example, “I want to earn more money this year than I did last year,” is not a specific goal which you can aim for because you could earn exactly the same amount that you earned previously and I could give you one extra dollar and technically you would have earnt more than last year. Whereas if you specifically say, “I want to earn 10% more money than I did last year,” that is a specific amount which can be broken down into smaller chunks.
Measurable: From the above you can see that your goal needs to be something which can be measured and broken down into smaller steps like the money example. If this was your goal you could breakdown the 10% of your goal into smaller 1.5/2% chunks which is a realistic way to achieve that end goal you are after.
Even if you had a goal based on emotion such as anger management, you would still set up actions, such as “Not getting angry with myself every time I have an angry outburst,” and break that down into smaller chunks such as I will aim to only record 3 angry outburst in my journal a week.
Evidence: Leading on from the above again, your goal that you want should be able to produce evidence for you. If there is evidence you can assess where you are along your goal journey at any time and decide whether your action steps are appropriate to achieving your goal of if you need to tweak them.
Responsible: This is a huge component of coaching. When you design a goal you must be FULLY responsible for it. A great example would be the example above of someone who wants to bring their anger management to an end. Through the lessons you learn through coaching you will learn to stop blaming the external world for your behaviour and focus on your external world (beliefs, values, communication, etc.) to empower yourself to not let these outside triggers aggravate you.
“Coaching is all about EMPOWERMENT”
If your goal includes or expects someone else to change, you will be waiting for a long time!
Timeline: Your goal must have end timeline or date that you can aim for. This end timeline will work wonders for how you prioritise and use your time.
Inspirational: Your goal must inspire you to really go for it. Remember anything worth achieving will require change, and because of how our brain is wired (more about that in a later blogpost) changing is not an easy thing. So when times get a bit tough or a bit off track will your goal inspire you to stick with it all the way through to completion? This is a game changer for most people.
Emotion: Like the above point, your goals needs to trigger your emotions in a positive way. Remember emotion is energy in motion. You will complete the tasks you set yourself if you feel positively to do them. When your emotions are low, which will happen from time to time because we are humans and not robots, set your emotions in a positive direction again by being inspired to get back on track.
Due to the confidentiality of clients I cannot give personal examples so I will give a general example that was given to us during my coaching training.
“It is 25th July 2015 and I am so proud of my achievement! I now successfully and consistently pay an extra £500 per month off the mortgage. I am also regularly saving an additional £250 per month and putting it away in a long-term shares account. At the end of every month I have an additional £60 per month after all my expenses because I have a budget and stick to it. I use this money to take my family out for the night. I am in control of my finances and I find money easy to manage. I believe there is an abundance of money to be made and I am feeling confident and enthusiastic about the future.”
Notice how the goal is written in the present tense like it has already been completed. This is very important. We do this because we are training to feel the emotions before we achieve the goal so we can step into our vision as opposed to chasing it. Also, take note that we do not write what we want with a negative context. Using the example above, we do not say, “I have stopped wasting money on silly things…” This is because when you read your goal everyday you do not want your mind to focus on the negative connotation of ‘wasting money’ even though that is what you want to stop. The brain will not recognise the ‘I have stopped’ part.
So alternatively we take this thought and flip it into something more positive such as “I now successfully and consistently pay off an extra $500 per month…” Of course during the coaching process we spend a lot of time with the mind management side of achieving your goal.
Trust Your Intuition
If it does not work out the way you planned, look for the lesson as opposed to being upset and focusing on what went wrong, or your perception of it being wrong. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, and don’t give up. Continue to trust your intuition. Look at all the amazing inventions in our lives. The internet, smart phones, social media, etc. I can pretty much guarantee that these people had setbacks along the way. Many setbacks!
“What makes people successful is that they can see failures as learning outcomes.”
Celebrate the fact that you have the courage to go after what you want and that the action step that you have taken does not contribute towards you achieving your goal. Because of this ‘failed outcome’ you now know that. Wrap your mind around this concept and you’ll love the goal achieving process even more!
Reward Yourself Along The Way
Big scary goals will need to be broken down into smaller goals which I call milestones, and then into smaller steps which I call action steps. Along the way when you start to hit your milestones reward yourself.
Goal setting is all about sacrificing instant pleasure for long-term pleasure. So planning in milestones along the way and rewarding yourself for doing so will keep in line with how your brain is wired.
I won’t go into too much detail here (a future blogpost is definitely on the cards) but essentially our brain will move towards pleasure and away from pain. Hence if you can delay your pleasure of the instant reward now and save it for the long-term pleasure of hitting your milestones you are in a small minority of the world’s population.
For example, with money a perfect example would be to ignore the instant pleasure of buying magazines and coffees now to have the long-term pleasure of taking your partner out for a nice meal at the end of the month. Similarly with money again, if you can ignore the short-term pleasure of watching re-runs of TV shows now and use the time to study, you can complete half a Master’s Degree by the end of the year. And when you do that, reward yourself! Simple isn’t it?
Planning and Accepting
I’m going to get a bit coach-like on you now. An important activity that we do in coaching is that when you plan your action steps for the following week or fortnight, a good coach will always ask,
“Is there anything which may prevent you from achieving your action steps this week?”
The reason we do this is to pre-plan what the brain will do when we try to take on new actions that we would not normally take; it will try and stop us or tell us it is not a good idea. Remember if we have done the same actions for many years, they are now habits and when you try to break habits there will be resistance. It’s natural.
So to solve this you pre-plan what your brain will do when you try to take on a new action. For example, if your action step is related to saving and all your friends are buying coffee after a workshop that you are going to attend, you know your brain will say something like; “It’s OK. It’s only one coffee. What harm can it do? We’ve always had coffee with friends after workshops.”
Now that you know that your brain will say this to you, firstly you accept it and you WRITE DOWN a pre-planned action of what you will do when this comes up. For instance:
1. I will have a coffee flask with me in case I want to drink coffee
2. I will be honest with my friends and tell them that I am giving up buying coffee because I am really committed to conquering my finances
3. I will tell my brain that it is OK to feel like this because this is a new routine that I am adopting, but don’t worry brain, you’ll get used to it.
4. Have my goal written and in a place where I can quickly refer to it so I can visualise the long-term pleasure of starting my new habit.
Sounds like a lot of work? It’s OK eventually your new action will become a new habit and you won’t have to pre-plan these actions. But when you are starting out it is essential that you have a plan when resistance comes up.
Blogpost In a Nutshell
Have a big scary goal broken down into smaller milestones and daily action steps. Pre-plan for resistance and know that it will only be there until you have the habit s you want.