‘If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?’ Basil S. Walsh

This is so true – if you haven’t converted your dreams to goals, how do you expect to succeed in your dreams? So now is your opportunity to continue to plan where you are going … to plan what you want from your life. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said ‘What is not started today is never finished tomorrow.’ So although this may feel a long winded way to start to achieve your goals remember in the same way Neil Armstrong said ‘This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’, each small step that you take is one giant leap towards achieving your goal.

Last week you started to work through the SMARTER process and you have now defined the specific and the measurable for each of your dreams. Yes, I can imagine that defining the specific for most of your goals was probably reasonably simple whereas thinking through and defining the measurable may not have been quite so simple. Just spend a few moments and read through what you wrote for each of your dreams. ‘Any person who selects a goal in life which can be fully achieved, has already defined his own limitations’ Cavett Robert. On reflection, how easy do you think it will be to achieve what you have written down. If what you have written down feels easy to achieve, have you defined your own limitation? or is this dream a stepping stone to a bigger dream? If it is, what’s stopping you defining the bigger dream now and converting that to your goal? If the specific or measurable feels as though it is too simple to achieve, what’s stopping you making it more realistic? It maybe that you are feeling that you won’t be able to achieve it – this is natural. Over the period of time that it takes you to achieve your goal, with my support or you find a coach to work with, you’ll find that you can achieve anything you set your mind to achieve. Adrienne Smith said ‘what you believe, you can achieve’ and Mariah Carey sang about ‘when you believe’ and her lyrics include ‘when you believe, though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill (hope that is), who knows what miracles you can achieve’. Gandhi said ‘If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.’ This is a statement that I know is true as I’ve experienced setting a goal which I wasn’t sure I could achieve and I’m now living the life that shows that I can do it. So now that you’ve looked at the statements you wrote down for the specific and measurable elements of your dream or dreams, let’s move into the next step of changing your dream into a goal.

  • ‘A’ is for achievable * agreed * action-oriented. ‘If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail’ Harvey MacKay
    • Achievable – If you do not believe that your goal is achievable, you will not achieve it.
    • Agreed – If you do not agree with your goal, then your goal is not achievable. Often we find this in business, when a boss gives a staff member a goal, the member of staff often sees the goal as a business goal and not their own. In the way in which it was ‘given’ to them, they will feel that they haven’t ‘agreed’ to it and often they don’t or won’t take action. Therefore this will be a goal that will not be achieved. In this example both the member of staff and the business are losing out.
    • Action – If you do not agree with your goal, you will never take action. If you do not take action, the goal will never been achieved.

The ‘A’ in the SMARTER process is your agreement with yourself about achieving your dream. If you do not believe that you can achieve this goal you are now wasting your time – yes I sound harsh and/or hard, but experience shows that if you do not believe in your own mind that you can achieve this goal, even though you are not sure how to achieve it, or whether you have the skills, the knowledge, or whether you know the right people to help you achieve it; you truly won’t achieve it. If you do not agree with the goal that you are now setting, you won’t achieve it. To achieve goals takes time and energy and if you don’t agree with your own goal then you how can you achieve it? Stephen Kaqqwa said ‘Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.’ Earl Nightingale said ‘The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfilment.’ So for each dream that you are now converting into a goal ask yourself:

    • ‘do I truly believe that I can achieve this goal?’
    • ‘have I truly agreed with this goal that I am setting?’
    • ‘is this a dream that I truly will take action to achieve?’

If the answer to any one of these questions is ‘no’, then my own experience and statistics show that you will not achieve this goal. Therefore if the answer to any one of these questions is ‘no’, now is the time for you to understand the reason and see if you can work with that to change the answer to ‘yes’.

  • ‘R’ is for realistic * relevant.
    • Realistic – ok a difficult question to ask in this step of the process as we have not yet finished defining each element of the goal but you will need to ask yourself before we get to the next ‘R’ in the SMARTER process ‘is the goal defined realistic?’ By realistic I am asking if you believe that you can put in the time and effort to achieve your dream within all the parameters that you are now setting.
    • Relevant – an interesting question. In my description above I talk about a boss handing a goal to a member of staff. This member of staff may feel that the goal is relevant or irrelevant to them. Truth be known, unless the goal is relevant to you it won’t be that easy to achieve it.

Either way, it does not mean that the goal you are setting is easily achievable – where a goal is not challenging or stretching you may not feel that you’ve achieved anything or you may easily become bored with the goal and just not achieve it. On the other hand, where the goal is too challenging – for example, within the time frame that you’ve set for yourself (more on this later), you may become disheartened and give up on your goal.

  • ‘T’ is for time-bound * time-framed.
    • Often seen as one of the more difficult areas when you setting your goal and it’s for this reason that we’ll discuss this in more depth next week.

Going back to the goal that I am still working with – loosing 5 sizes and knowing I will be successful when I’m a size 12 and weighing no more than 60 kilos … do I truly believe that this is something that I can achieve? It’s always very hard to look at yourself and as you are defining your goal being realistic about what you can achieve. When I did this, I spent a few moments (maybe longer) in my mind, going back through my life and asking myself what size/weight I was when I felt most comfortable. The thoughts I had when I went through this process were interesting … was I more comfortable at my skinniest? I know that some will say ‘yes’. Was I more comfortable when I was carrying a little bit of weight – maybe 5 kilos more than I should? When I was at my skinniest … how easy did I feel it was to stay at that weight? Yes, I did go back in my old photographs and look at myself (not something I like doing at all – much happier being on the other side of the camera) – what did I look like? What was the reason that I had to be so skinny? Who was pressurising me to look like I did then? Who was pressurising me to make the change now and return to that vision? These were all the types of thoughts and questions that I asked myself. I can remember talking to my own coach and being asked ‘why now?’ I had always said that I liked myself the way I was … so this was a valid question. What had changed that made me want to suddenly start to reduce my size? As I explained last week, in April 2009 one of my closest friends – Julie – made a comment as we were walking along the promenade in Jardim do Mar (Madeira), which made me look at myself in the way that others would see me. So although I had always said I was happy with the way I looked, suddenly was seeing myself in a different way. Ellen DeGeneres expressed this clearly when she said ‘Sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.’ This is exactly what was happening to me – suddenly I was hearing what I was being told, and seeing what others were seeing. There is a wonderful quote that is often found when you are searching for quotes on reflection, by an unknown author which says ‘Seeing yourself as you want to be is the key to personal growth’. So having looked at what I looked like and at all the photographs that I found, yes I agreed with myself that I wanted to set this goal; yes that I could achieve it; and yes it was relevant. So now I had a goal that was specific, measurable, which I agreed with, it was achievable, and I could take action to make it happen.

So take this opportunity to continue to convert your dreams to your own goals. With your journal or your notebook in hand, work through each one of your dreams and under each dream ask yourself:

  • Do I truly believe that I can achieve this goal?
  • Have I truly agreed with this goal that I am in the process of setting?
  • If this a dream that I will commit time and energy into achieving?
  • If you have answered ‘no’ to any one of these questions before you continue onto the next question STOP and ask yourself ‘what is stopping me saying ‘yes’?’ You will need to work with the reasoning behind each of the statements you make in answer to this question. Only once you have worked through each statement and are able to answer ‘yes’ to the question posed, then move onto the next question and the next dream.

In the next article we’ll progress with Rule 2 and define the ‘T’ in the SMARTER process.

© 2010 Barbara J. Cormack
First published under Cormack’s Capers in Magna Intuitum